FOSTER, Alfred Edward
(Service number 34837)
|First Rank||Private||Last Rank||Private|
|Date||18 April 1895||Place of Birth||Pleasant Point|
|Date||1 June 1916||Age||21 years|
|Address at Enlistment||Glenlyon, Lake Pukaki|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||Miss Levina FOSTER (sister), Princess Cafe, High Street, Dunedin; later 83 Oxford Street, Dunedin|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 5 inches. Weight 140 lbs. Chest measurement 33-36 inches. Complexion dark. Eyes blue. Hair black.Both eyes 6/6. Hearing & colour vision good. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart and lungs normal. No illnesses. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects. No fits. Fit.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||New Zealand Expeditionary Force|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||20th Reinforcements, Otago Infantry Battalion, D Company|
|Date||30 December 1916|
|Embarked From||Wellington||Destination||Plymouth, Devon, England|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||Otago Infantry|
|Service Medals||British War Medal; Victory Medal|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom||Believed Germany. 31 May 1918 communication received from soldier stated prison of war; location not stated|
|Actions Prior to Capture||With Entrenching Battalion - reported missing|
|PoW Serial Number|
|Date||18 Aptil 1919||Reason||Termination of period of engagement.|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
15 February 1919 admitted to Ship’s Hospital at Sea (Athenic); 21 February 1919 discharged from Ship’s Hospital.
Shepherd; farmer; taxi proprietor
|Date||28 August 1969||Age||74 years|
|Place of Death||Christchurch|
|Notices||Press, 29 Aug 1969|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Oamaru Old Cemetery|
|Memorial Reference||Block 91, Plots 14, 15|
|New Zealand Memorials|
Alfred Edward Foster was born on 18 April 1895 at Pleasant Point, the younger son of Theodore (aka Edward) and Eliza (née Attiwell) Foster. He and his brother Theodore were baptized on 16 January 1896 at St Albans Anglican Church, Pleasant Point. Theodore (Edward) and Eliza married in 1892, and two sons and two daughters were born at Pleasant Point. Alfred started his schooling at Pleasant Point before his mother died in April 1901. She was buried at Pleasant Point. Immediately after, Alfred transferred to the Oamaru area where he attended Tokorahi and Awamoko schools. The children appear to have come into the care of others in North Otago, although their father did move to Tokorahi. In his first year at Tokorahi he received a prize for general excellence in the Infants (Lower Division) class. The next year his prize was for reading in the Infants and in 1904 merit (first place) for Standard I arithmetic. His success continued in 1905 with merit (second place) in Standard II. His father, Edward (Theodore) Foster, died on 15 April 1912 at the Oamaru Hospital and was buried in the local cemetery.
Alfred was a shepherd at Glenlyon, Lake Pukaki, when he registered at the Timaru Defence Office in early June 1916. He was 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighed 140 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 33-36 inches. Of dark complexion, he had blue eyes and black hair. His sight, hearing and colour vision were all good. His limbs and chest were well formed, his heart and lungs normal. Vaccinated, free of diseases and having had no illnesses or fits, he was in good bodily and mental health. He was single and Presbyterian. His sister Miss Lavina (Lavinia) Foster, Princess Café, High Street, Dunedin, was his nominated next-of-kin.
The 20th Reinforcements draft was given a well-organised send-off from Dunedin on 24 August 1916. Among those who answered the roll call and went forward from Dunedin was Alfred Edward Foster (Infantry). In Anzac Square the proceedings started with the singing of the National Anthem, followed by rousing cheers for the departing men. “Two long, weary years have passed since we entered upon this bitter war, and today we realise more than ever the desperate struggle that we are engaged upon. . . . . ,” said the mayor. “You have made a great sacrifice, and we cannot but have the greatest admiration for your having voluntarily offered your services.” At the call of the Mayor the crowd sang “For they are jolly good fellows,” and the men marched on to the platform to the strains of patriotic music by the band. Though the draft was forty short, “the departing soldiers seemed to be a particularly fit and eager lot. They moved with marked alacrity, and they were full of spirit.”
Private A. E. Foster embarked with the Otago Infantry Battalion of the 20th Reinforcements per the “Athenic”, departing from Wellington for Plymouth, England, on 30 December 1916. Having disembarked at Devonport on 3 March 1917, he marched into Sling, leaving there Sling for Codford a month later, then proceeded overseas to France on 28 May.
He was with his unit on 17 February 1918 before going on leave for 18 days. He joined the 2nd Entrenching Battalion on 17 March. But from 12 April till 19 April 1918, he was reported missing. The finding of the Court of Enquiry on 16 April 1918 was “Missing Believed Prisoner”. A communication from the soldier in May 1918 confirmed that he was a Prisoner of War in Germany, his location unknown. The report (unofficial) in late August was that he was sound and was located at Gardeleger. Having been released from captivity, he was repatriated and arrived at Dover on 4 December 1918. Reporting at New Zealand Headquarters on 6 December, he was granted leave for a month.
It was per the “Athenic” (Draft No. 222) that Alfred Edward Foster returned to New Zealand, embarking at Liverpool on 3 February 1919 and arriving on 20 March 1919. He spent a few days in the Ship’s Hospital while at sea. His intended address was Swamp, Hakataramea, South Canterbury, but was changed to Livingstone, via Oamaru. He was discharged 18 April 1919. For his service in Western Europe, he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Alfred did remain in North Otago, firstly at Otiake, then at Herbert, before moving to Oamaru in the 1940s. He was a shepherd when his name was drawn in a World War Two ballot. He married Alexandrina (Rina) Kennedy in 1941. Alfred and Alexandrina lived in Oamaru, Alfred moving from farming to taxi driving in the late 1940s. Alexandrina died on 27 April 1968. Alfred Edward Foster died on 28 August 1969 at Christchurch, aged 74 years. Perhaps he had moved to Christchurch to be close to his brother Theodore. His next-of-kin at death was Mrs J. Foster, 10 Hart Street, Christchurch – surely Mrs T. Hart, as 10 Hart Street was the home of his brother Theodore and his wife Grace. He was survived by his brother Ted (Theodore) and sister Ann (Mrs Condgen [Congdn], Sydney), and by a niece Ann and a nephew Tim. Alfred’s funeral was held in Oamaru. He and Alexandrina were buried with his father at Oamaru, the gravestone inscribed simply FOSTER. By his Will signed in May 1968 at Oamaru, Alfred Edward Foster bequeathed his estate to his niece - Ann Thea Foster, of Christchurch, spinster. She was the daughter of his brother Theodore, who also served in World War One. Both Alfred’s sisters had gone to New South Wales, Australia. Ann Elizabeth Foster married Leslie Frank Congdon in 1945 in Sydney, and died on 1 October 1981 at Darlinghurst, aged 82 years. Lavinia Foster - their other sister and next-of-kin on enlistment - probably died on 4 November 1956, a spinster, and was buried in Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park, Randwick, New South Wales, where, some years later, her sister Annie Elizabeth Congdon was buried.
Alfred Edward Foster and Theodore Foster were cousins of Eyre Llewellyn Evans, Harold Thomas Evans, Hugh McAlpine Evans and Owen Evans, they being the sons of Mary Ann (née Attiwell) and Thomas Evans. And of Alexander Andrew Gilchrist, who died in 1916 at the Somme, and Daniel James Gilchrist, the sons of Louisa (née Attiwell) and Daniel Gilchrist. Four Attiwell sisters who had come to New Zealand with their parents in the 1870s, were neglected and were admitted to the Caversham Industrial School in Dunedin. Their father died in 1877 and their mother in 1892.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [22 May 2016]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5922 0041507) [22 & 25 May 2016]; Oamaru Mail, 24 December 1901, 22 December 1902, 24 December 1904, 22 December 1905, 15 & 16 April 1912, North Otago Times, 16 & 17 April 1912, Timaru Herald, 30 August 1915, 7 June 1916, 5 June 1918, 11 December 1918, Evening Star, 24 August 1916, 24 & 31 May 1918, 4 & 5 June 1918, 9 December 1918, Sun, 8 March 1919, Press, 29 August 1969 (Papers Past) [21, 22 & 25 May 2016; 03 October 2022]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [22 May 2016]; School Admission records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG & Oamaru Branch NZSG) [20 May 2016]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [21 & 23 May 2016]; Oamaru Old Cemetery burial records (Waitaki District Council) [28 May 2016]; Probate record (Archives NZ Collections) [12 March 2023]; Baptism records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG collection) [14 March 2023]
Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, South Canterbury Genealogy Society
Currently Assigned to
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.
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