FOSTER, Arthur Basil Guy
(Service number 78643)

First Rank Private Last Rank


Date 10 January 1897 Place of Birth Timaru

Enlistment Information

Date 18 January 1918 Age 21 years
Address at Enlistment Lismore, Hinds, South Canterbury
Occupation Packer
Previous Military Experience D Company 1st Canterbury Regiment Territorials - still serving
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs K. J. FOSTER (mother), Lismore, via Hinds, South Canterbury
Religion Church of England
Medical Information Height 5 feet 3 inches. Weight 124 lbs. Chest measurement 31½-34½ inches. Complexion medium. Eyes blue. Sight - both eyes 6/6. Hair dark. Hearing and colour vision both normal. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart and lungs normal. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects. No fits. No notification for consumption. Never under treatment in a sanatorium or mental institution. Absent from work through accident 3 months ago. Cart (empty) ran over waist - absent 1 week.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 43rd Reinforcements, F Company
Date 17 August 1918
Transport Ruahine
Embarked From Destination London, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Service Medals British War Medal
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date 15 April 1919 Reason Discharged in England.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

27 September 1918 admitted to Troopship’s Hospital; discharged three days later. 11 December 1918 admitted to Brimstone Hospital - measles.

Post-war Occupations

Minister of religion


Date 10 October 1962 Age 64 years
Place of Death Queensland, Australia
Notices Press, 20 October 1962
Memorial or Cemetery Townsville (Belgian Gardens) Cemetery, Queensland, Australia
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Arthur Basil Foster, known as Basil, was the younger son of Arthur Pearce and Katherine Jane (née Young) Foster, and a grandson of the Rev George Foster, the first incumbent of St Mary’s, Timaru. English-born Arthur Pearce Foster, who was the eldest surviving son of the Rev. George Foster and Katherine Jane Young, who had come out from Scotland to her uncle and aunt in New Zealand in 1883, were married in 1887 in New Zealand. Arthur Basil Foster was born on 16 January 1898 at Timaru and baptized on 10 May 1898 at St Mary’s Anglican Church, Timaru, his father one of the sponsors. Mrs Katherine Foster was a piano teacher in Timaru and was widely known throughout musical circles in South Canterbury and the wider Canterbury region. She was known to have composed a song “Our boys return from the front”, released in October 1900. Arthur Pearce Foster died on 31 July 1903 at the Timaru Hospital, as the result of an accident at the Timaru Municipal Abattoirs. A carpenter at the abattoir, he had been working at the roof fixing a stirrup to receive a beam when he fell off the scaffold, a distance of about 15 feet. He sustained serious internal injury and was operated on for a lacerated kidney. Arthur Pearce Foster was buried at the Timaru Cemetery. He left a widow with four young children. Mrs Katherine Foster remained in Timaru for a few years then moved to Christchurch.

Basil started his schooling at Timaru Main School at the age of five, moving to Christchurch East School at the beginning of 1906. He spent six weeks at Arthur Street School, Dunedin, in November-December 1906, in the care of his mother’s sister. In 1907 he attended Richmond School in Christchurch, transferring later in the year to Central New Brighton, returning to Richmond in 1908 and then back at Central New Brighton in 1909. In late 1909 there was a brief stint at Waimataitai School, Timaru, perhaps in the care of a relative. He was again at Central New Brighton in 1910 and at Bromley in 1911. It is recorded that he left Bromley for Rockwood in December 1912. There is no record at Rockwood, although his younger sister, Myrtle Alice Foster spent most of 1913 at Rockwood.

Basil likely inherited some of his mother’s musical talent. In August 1907, B. Foster won the under ten Pianoforte playing at the competitions arranged by the Loyal City of Norwich Lodge of Oddfellows, Lyttelton, to celebrate the 65th anniversary of its founding. In June 1911, he gained a pass in the Preparatory Division of the Trinity College of Music theoretical examination. In September 1909, a member of the winning Richmond A team in a hard tussle with Christchurch A in the Fourth-Class football final was A. Foster. An exhibition of boys’ work was opened on 2 September 1912 at the Boys’ Gordon Hall. There were about 300 exhibits which covered “many branches of youthful activity, from stamp collecting to wickerwork, and from carpentry to photography.” A. B. Foster was a successful exhibitor in map drawing. The Boys Gordon Hall was a department of the YMCA.

Arthur Basil Guy Foster enlisted with the Specialists Regiment of the 41st Reinforcements on 18 January 1918 at Christchurch, just two days after his twentieth birthday. He was a packer for the Wellington Wool Company at Christchurch. He provided an address of 12 Ruskin Street, Addington, as well as Lismore, Hinds, South Canterbury, where his next-of-kin – his mother, Mrs K. J. Foster – resided. He was single and of Church of England affiliation, and was still serving with the 1st Canterbury Regiment Territorials. He was 5 feet 3 inches tall, weighed 124 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 31½-34½ inches. His complexion was medium, his eyes blue and his hair dark. His sight, hearing, colour vision, heart and lungs were all normal, his limbs and chest well formed. full and perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart and lungs normal. He was in good bodily and mental health, being free of diseases, slight defects and fits, and having never been under treatment in a sanatorium or mental institution. He had been absent from work for 1 week through an accident 3 months earlier when an empty cart ran over his waist.

Named in the nominal roll of men ordered to parade, he left home on 29 April 1918 and was in camp on 30 April. On a Friday in mid-June 1918, several members of the Lismore Patriotic Society visited Private Basil Foster, who was down from Trentham on final leave. He was presented with a money-belt, a razor, and a hand mirror as parting gifts from the society. In July 1918, when his mother was in Timaru for the winter months, Basil was in camp. On 1 August he was transferred to the 42nd Reinforcements and six days later to the 43rd Reinforcements. Private A. B. G. Foster embarked with the 43rd Reinforcements, leaving for London, England, on 17 August 1918, per the “Ruahine”. He was admitted to the Troopship’s Hospital on 27 September and discharged three days later. Disembarking at London on 29 October 1918, he was initially posted to the Otago Reserve Battalion at Sling on 30 October, then to the Canterbury Reserve Battalion at Sling on 6 November 1918. After being admitted to Brimstone Hospital on 11 December 1918, with measles, he marched into Sling on 26 December. He was at Grantham from 28 January 1919 to 14 February when he was attached to the Canterbury Infantry Battalion at Sling.

A. B. G. Foster was discharged (demobilized) on 15 April 1919 in the United Kingdom and was awarded the British War Medal, having served for 352 days.

His address as of 16 May 1923 was The Abbey, Pershore, Worcester, England. By the 1919, 1920, 1921 England electoral registers, Arthur Basil Guy Foster was at The Abbey, Evesham, Worcestershire. “After the war he went to St. Benedict’s, Fort Augustus, Scotland, and in 1923 was appointed to work and study in Palestine under His Eminence the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.”

In December 1923, the Rev. Basil Foster – the son of Mrs K. J. Foster, late of Timaru and Christchurch, and then resident in Cambridge – was appointed director and English master of the recently-organised Catholic Boys’ School in Ramallah, Palestine. “Benedictines in the Orient. Ordinations at Jerusalem” read the headlines in the Otago Daily Times of 1 October 1927 for a London report dated 27 August. “On August 7, the Rev. Cyril Fay and the Rev. Basil Foster, the former from England and the latter from New Zealand, both destined for missionary work in the Near East, were ordained deacons in the Latin Patriarchal Cathedral, Jerusalem, by his Lordship Right Rev. Dr Godric Kean. . . . . . . The two men missionaries, said the bishop, had a vast field of labour before them. If they faced actual facts, they would find millions calling out in one way or another for light and guidance. . . . . . Important influences were at work, and the Catholic missionary must go forth well equipped with personal sanctity, and with practical knowledge — boldly and undauntedly — into the midst of those great peoples, and not in a listless and lethargic manner, but actively, vigilantly, and perseveringly spread everywhere the illuminating rays of Catholic truth.” So, this was the post-war life of Arthur Basil Guy Foster. Was it a choice made before he left for England or when he was there? In 1931, Arthur Basil Foster was a priest at the Presbytery, Taihape, but this appears to have been only a short stay in his homeland,

By 1916, when her health failed, Katherine Jane Foster had moved to Lismore in Mid-Canterbury, where her older daughter (Heath/Heather) was the school head mistress. Mrs Arthur Foster spent the winter months of 1918 in Timaru. During 1918, K. J. Foster wrote several letters to the Christchurch newspapers on the subject of conscientious objectors. K. J. was not an infrequent letter-writer. Was this Katherine Jane Foster? In 1920, after four years at Lismore, Heath accepted a position as head mistress of the new Girls’ Church School at Cambridge. Her mother moved with her to Cambridge. Alice Myrtle Foster, the younger daughter of Arthur Pearce and Katherine Jane Foster and sister of Heath, Roland and Basil, died on 29 December 1920 at Cambridge, of pneumonia. She was just 18 years old. Mrs Arthur Foster (Katherine Jane) died on 9 March 1925 at Hamilton, “a lady of very considerable musical and literary attainments”. She was survived by her daughter (Miss Heath/Heather Foster, of the Cambridge District High School teaching staff), and two sons (Mr Roland Foster, civil engineer, of Tauranga, and the Reverend Basil Foster, of Palestine). She was buried at Hautapu Cemetery, Waikato, with her daughter Myrtle. Heath Denoon, the elder daughter of the late Mr and Mrs Arthur Foster, of Timaru and Christchurch, married in December 1925 at St Andrew’s Church, Cambridge.

Arthur Basil Guy Foster died suddenly on 10 October 1962 at Townsville, Queensland, Australia, aged 64 years. He was buried at the Belgian Gardens Cemetery, Townsville, Queensland, alongside other religious. His headstone inscription reads “Sacred to the Memory of the Rev. Arthur Basil Foster, Ayr, died 10th Oct. 1962 aged 64 years. Sacred Heart of Jesus have mercy on him.” A death notice in the Press of 20 October 1962 read – “FOSTER, Rev. Father Arthur Basil — ln Townsville, Queensland, loved son of the late Arthur and K. Y. Foster, loved brother of Heather (Mrs T. S. Joynt, Katikati), and of the late Myrtle and Roland Suddard Foster (Tauranga), also grandson of the late Rev. George Foster, pioneer clergyman of Timaru and South Canterbury Requiescat in pace. (Suddenly.)”. His brother, Roland Suddard Foster, also served in World War One; as did three cousins – George Skottowe Webb, Frank Parker Skottowe Webb (who died of influenza in 1918 at Featherston) and Reginald Suddard Skottowe Webb; while two cousins served in World War Two – Leslie George Peglar and Francis Brenton Peglar.


Auckland War memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [25 May 2016]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5537 0041520) [25 May 2016], NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [22 May 2016]; School Admission records (South Canterbury & Canterbury branches NZSG) [22 May 2016]; Queensland, Australia, death index [25 May 2016]; Townsville Cemetery headstone image (Billion Graves) [25 May 2016]; Belgian Gardens Cemetery, Townsville, headstone image & record (Find a Grave) [19 March 2023]; South Canterbury Times, 31 October 1900, Timaru Herald, 28 July 1903, 1 August 1903, 13 July 1918, 30 April 1920, 18 March 1925, Press, 1 August 1903, 2 September 1912, 13 July 1918, 20 December 1920, 11 & 18 March 1925, 18 April 1925, 20 October 1962, Ashburton Guardian, 1 August 1903, 21 June 1918, Lyttelton Times, 27 August 1907, 5 May 1920, Star, 31 August 1907, 11 September 1909, 13 September 1911, Sun, 30 April 1918, 2 May 1918, Manawatu Standard, 12 December 1923, New Zealand Times, 12 December 1923, Waikato Independent, 10 March 1925, New Zealand Herald, 10 March 1925, 1 February 1926, Otago Daily Times, 1 October 1927 (Papers Past) [24, 25, 26 & 28 May 2016; 19, 20, 21 & 24 March 2023]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [19 March 2023]; England Electoral Registers ( [19 March 2023]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, South Canterbury Genealogy Society

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