FOSTER, Philip Stanley
(Service number 3/2637)

Aliases Known as Stanley
First Rank Captain Last Rank Captain


Date 4 April 1885 Place of Birth Timaru

Enlistment Information

Date 2 December 1916 Age 31 years
Address at Enlistment 74 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch
Occupation Surgeon
Previous Military Experience No. 6 Mounted Field Ambulance - still serving
Marital Status Married. One child.
Next of Kin Mrs Florence FOSTER (wife), 74 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch
Religion Church of England
Medical Information Height 5 feet 8½ inches. Weight 12 stone 2 lbs. Chest measurement 34-38 inches. Complexion fair. Eyes blue. Hair light brown. Sight - both eyes 6/6. Hearing and colour vision both normal. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart and lungs normal. Teeth good. Illnesses - only carbuncle. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects. No fits. Distinctive marks – none except small linear scar on right side of back of neck.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation (1) New Zealand Expeditionary Force; (2) New Zealand Expeditionary force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship (1) HMHS Maheno; (2) HMHS Maheno
Date (1) 19 January 1917; (2) 30 May 1917
Transport (1) Hospital Ship No. 1, 4th Voyage from NZ; (2) Hospital Ship No. 1, 5th Voyage from NZ
Embarked From Destination
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Hospital Ship "Maheno"

Military Awards

Service Medals British War Medal; Victory 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 1 February 1920 Reason Placed on Special Reserve of Officers.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations



Date 20 March 1965 Age 79 years
Place of Death Christchurch
Notices Press, 22 February 1965
Memorial or Cemetery Harewood Crematorium, Christchurch
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Philip Stanley Foster, known as Stanley, was born on 4 April 1885 at Timaru, the third son of Robert Francis and Kitty Margaret (née Carpenter) Foster. Robert Foster, born in Deal, Kent, England, in 1852, came out to New Zealand by the “Regina” with his parents and four siblings, as a seven-year-old. Landing at Lyttelton, the family came to Timaru in 1860, where seven more children were born, one dying in infancy. Robert and London-born Kitty married in 1878 at St Paul’s Church, Dunedin, and were to have six sons and two daughters born at Timaru, one of the first-born twin sons dying at two days. Mr Foster was keenly interested in music and was also a keen sportsman, fostering these talents in his family.

After many years associated with Timaru and Waimataitai, Mr Robert Foster’s family left to join him at Hawera in mid-October 1893. He was pleased with his experience there so far and said that Hawera’s weekly market was busier than the Saturday one at Timaru. It was in September 1893 that Mr R. Foster made his singing debut before a Hawera audience, scoring a decided success. He became well involved in the musical (notably the Hawera Musical Society and Hawera Choral Society), school, church (Presbyterian), sport and civic scenes at Hawera. The Hawera & Normanby Star carried the following item on 1 May 1894 – ‘The committee of the Waimataitai school, Timaru, in their report to the householders had the following kindly references to Mr Robt. Foster, now of Hawera: — “The late Secretary — We have to record the great loss the district has experienced from Mr Robt. Foster’s departure for Hawera. He had been connected with the school for many years, acting as honorary secretary to your committee, and as such had done good work. He had unselfishly given up a great deal of time and applied very considerable capacity to the furtherance of scholastic matters in his district. Alike as a committeeman, secretary, performer or organiser of concerts for school purposes he had always displayed such energy and knowledge that bis loss will be deeply felt and deplored.”’ It was in January 1897 that Mr Foster first determined to dispose of his business. In March 1898, an invitation was extended to the people of Hawera and district to co-operate in the matter of giving a complimentary subscription concert to Mr Robt. Foster at the Opera House. “Mr Foster, we understand, is leaving Hawera immediately for the South Island, and it is felt that some recognition should be given of his valuable services to the public in many capacities during his residence in Hawera. As a citizen Mr Foster has been, to put it in a word, a "brick," for, especially in musical matters, he has never spared himself in the slightest when his able services have been desired. Not only in Hawera has he lived a life of usefulness and activity, but he can also look back on a long vista of dreary drives to country concerts where his talent, as in Hawera, has always been in great demand. The country people will no doubt show their appreciation by attending on Friday evening, and combine with the Hawera people in giving him the send-off he undoubtedly deserves. A keen sport himself, Mr Foster has also taken a deep interest in athletics, being a prominent member of the Caledonian Society and a strong supporter of cricket and football. It is no exaggeration to say that no one man has devoted so much of his ability to the enjoyment of others as Mr Foster during the four or five years he has been in Hawera, and therefore there should be few citizens who will not make Friday evening's concert an opportunity for showing their appreciation in a practical manner.” And so, a farewell concert was given to Mr Foster on 18 March, Mr Foster himself and his two oldest sons (Frank and Arnold) taking part. The Mayor presented him with a cheque as a slight token of the esteem in which he was held by the Hawera residents, referring “to Mr Foster’s good citizenship ever since he came to Hawera, mentioning particularly the deep interest he had always taken in music, cricket and athletics. Mr Foster was one of that class, he said, they could ill afford to lose and he hoped that wherever he might go he would be prosperous. Apart from Mr Foster himself they had to tender their best thanks to Mrs Foster and family who had always been ready to help in matters of a social nature for the good of the public. (Applause.) He was quite satisfied that one and all wished them bon voyage and health and prosperity wherever they went. Mr Foster heartily thanked the public for their kindness. In regard to what little he might have done in musical matters, he had done without any idea of reward, but simply from the pleasure he derived from it. Everyone had his fad, and his went in a musical groove.”

Stanley’s first school was Waimataitai School in Timaru. It was there in 1891 in the Preparatory class that he received a prize for proficiency and an award for being present every school day. The following year he was named in the Standard I prize list and again rewarded for attendance. In 1893, when the family had moved to Hawera, Stanley passed the Standard II examinations at the local school (Hawera Main School. In 1894 he passed the Standard III examination and was rewarded for attendance and good conduct. 1896 brought a pass in Standard V and 1897 a junior scholarship. At both Waimataitai and Hawera schools Mr Foster presented prizes. In the comic song competition at the concluding night of the Hawera Floral fete in January 1898, Stanley and his brother Willie sang a highly amusing parody on the well-known song “I won’t play in your yard”. They were loudly encored and awarded first prize.

Stanley attended Wanganui Collegiate School for a year, 1898. The family had moved from Hawera to Dunedin in March 1898, and Stanley was educated Otago Boys’ High School from 1899. In that year he was one of 23 candidates who missed out on two years of free education at the Dunedin High Schools, because of a new regulation which reduced the number of junior scholarships to be awarded. In January 1901, he was one of the Dunedin students who had qualified for matriculation. At the Dunedin Competitions in early November 1902, Philip S. Foster was placed third in the Shakespearian Recitation (“Mark Antony’s Oration”) and also competed in Scripture Reading, while his oldest brother (Frank) was placed in the Sacred Song. Both Privates S. Foster and H. Foster received prizes in Drill at the Boys’ High School in 1902. P. S. Foster also received the Form VI French prize. He gained credit in the 1902 Junior Scholarship examination. At its March 1903 meeting, the High School Board of Governors received advice from the rector that P. S. Foster and three others would compete for the Gray Russell scholarship, taking for their subjects: English, Latin, French, mathematics, chemistry, and botany. Stanley competed in the Scripture Reading again in the 1903 Competitions, and in the Sacred Solo (Gentlemen amateurs over 16 years) in 1906. P. S. Foster was honoured at the Boys’ High School 1903 formal break-up and distribution of prizes – the Mill Medal (a special prize) and Form VI French. December 1903 also saw him doing well in cricket. Although the Otago High School lost to Christ’s College, Foster did his bit, bowling and catching, but unfortunately being dismissed for only three runs in the first innings, although his 17 in the second innings was Otago’s highest score. Philip Stanley Foster was successful in the 1903 junior scholarship examinations, placed 11th in the country. “Friends of the Boys’ High School must be more than gratified with the splendid results of the examinations for University junior scholarships this year. . . . . . Altogether, as far as University scholarship results are concerned, this must be considered the most brilliant year in the history of the school.” Although Stanley was bottom in the averages for the high School first eleven in the 1904 summer, he was top in the bowling averages. His results in the 1904 Otago University examinations were good – Theoretical Physics, Third Class; Physics (Practical), Second Class; Chemistry (Inorganic Chemistry), First Class; Chemistry (Practical) Second Class; General Biology and Zoology (Second Class); Practical Biology (Medicals), First Class.

Stanley’s medical studies and participation in the Dunedin competitions and cricket continued apace. Passed the Medical Intermediate Examination in all four subjects in 1904; third place in the Baritone Solo (or amateurs over sixteen) in 1905; made 123 not out for the Carisbrook Club in January 1906, and was presented with the vice-president’s cup in September for the highest individual score during the season, as a junior having put up a better score than any of the seniors; tird place in the Sacred Solo in 1906; passed the First Professional Examination (medical) in 1906; well up in the batting averages for the Carisbrook Club A team in 1908 and played for the province; passed the Third Professional Examination (medical) in 1908. In January 1909, the degree of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery was conferred on Philip Stanley Foster by the University of New Zealand. The Carisbrook Cricket Club enjoyed another very successful season in 1909 but prior to the close of the season lost several prominent members, among them Dr P. S. Foster and W. T. Foster (Stanley’s brother). Dr Foster had again been well up in the batting averages for the A team. In September 1910, he was elected to the committee of Christchurch West Cricket Club. In May 1910, Philip Stanley Foster, assistant house surgeon at Wellington Hospital, provided medical evidence at the inquest for a Wellington tramway fatality. And late in 1911, after studying at the London Hospital, he became entitled to the distinction of the letters L.R.C.P., as a result of the latest examination. A year later, Mr Philip Stanley Foster, M.B., Ch.B. (Otago), M.R.C.S. and L.R.C.P, was among the successful candidates at the Primary Fellowship Examination in anatomy and physiology at the Royal College of Surgeons of England. Back in New Zealand, Dr. P. S. Foster opened the batting for West Christchurch in November 1914.

It was also in September 1914 that his appointment as captain in the New Zealand Medical Corps was gazetted. He was attached to No. 6 Mounted Field Ambulance, and a parchment commission was issued. Philip Stanley Foster married Florence Harriet Chisholm on 28 December 1914 at Wellington. The first of their three daughters, Patricia, was born on 7 January 1916 at Christchurch. At a concert held in Christchurch in November 1915 in aid of the Italian Red Cross Fund, Stanley was a member of a quartet which gave several songs. In the year ending 31 March 1916, he was involved in examining recruits in Christchurch, and on 12 June 1916, Capt. P. S. Foster, N.Z.M.C. was appointed Medical Officer (temp.) to the F.A. Cadre [Field Ambulance], R.N.Z.A., Christchurch. In September 1916, Mrs P. S. Foster gave £1 to the fund for providing Christmas gift parcels for the Canterbury soldiers fighting in France and Egypt. Then it was Stanley’s turn, Captain P. S. Foster being appointed on 21 December 1916 to the staff of the hospital ship Maheno on her third charter. The appointment had actually been approved in November. This necessitated a replacement on the staff of the North Canterbury Hospital Board while he was absent on leave. He was required to go in for a month’s training at Awapuni prior to leaving for Egypt. Medical men were to be sent with each monthly reinforcement. As he had important work arranged for the first week of December, he requested that his reporting at Awapuni be extended a week. He was posted at Awapuni and taken on strength with seniority. It was at Awapuni that he enlisted, on 5 December 1916, the date on which his resignation of appointment with the Canterbury Military District took effect. Philip Stanley Foster named his wife as next-of-kin – Mrs Florence Foster, 74 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch. A surgeon, he too, resided at 74 Oxford Terrace and was of Church of England affiliation. He was already serving with No. 6 Mounted Field Ambulance, having enlisted with the Territorial Force in 1914. He had given three years of Cadet Service at Otago High School, with the rank of sergeant.

P. Stanley Foster was 5 feet 8½ inches tall, weighed 12 stone 2 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 34-38 inches. His complexion was fair, his eyes blue, and his hair light brown. His sight , hearing, colour vision, heart and lungs were all normal, his limbs and chest well formed, and his teeth good. His only illness had been a carbuncle. So, vaccinated and free from diseases and fits, he was in good bodily and mental health. Captain Foster embarked twice with Hospital Ship No. 1, the Maheno – on 19 January 1917, 4th Voyage (3rd Charter), and on 30 May 1917, 5th Voyage (3rd Charter 2nd Sailing). He had returned to New Zealand on 6 May 1917, and secondly on 15 September 1917, on duty. The annual report of the Christchurch Savage Club presented in April 1917, noted that Savage Dr. P. S. Foster was away on military duties. Capt. P. Stanley Foster wrote from the No. 1 Hospital Ship “Maheno”, Port Chalmers, on 28 September 1917, asking for some idea when his service on the Maheno would end and “when I shall be at liberty to resume my work in Christchurch”. He had had a letter from the Hospital Board with regard to recommencing his duties there. “My own private arrangements also need somewhat urgent attention.” The reply a week later read “I have to inform you that as soon as it is convenient for the Officer Commanding to release you, you can take your week’s leave and revert to civil practice.” He was granted privilege leave from 19 October to 26 October 1917 and retired to civil practice on 22 November until again required.

By October 1917, Stanley was back into his cricket, turning out for West Christchurch and taking six wickets for 27 runs off his bowling in the first innings. Early in 1918, he was selected for the Canterbury team to play against Wellington. He had previously represented Otago and Wellington. Later in the month he was one of three players who each scored his first century in Christchurch cricket. “Dr Foster batted well all through his long innings, driving vigorously, cutting neatly and crisply, and playing some good shots on the leg side. He scored 100 runs in just that many minutes, and maintained that rate of scoring until, at 189, he went well out of his crease to smack a ball, missed it, and was stumped. . . . . . . Foster hit 20 fours and three sixes.

Captain P. S. Foster, F.R.C.S., Eng., N.Z.N.C., was appointed a member of a Special District Medical Board, effective 24 April 1918. This came with pay of Lieutenant-Colonel at Expeditionary Force rates whilst so employed. The appointment of surgeon, Dr P. S. Foster, to the honorary staff of Christchurch Hospital was confirmed in June 1918. In April he had been asked whether he could arrange to join the “Maheno” on her next charter, and advised that he would probably be required early in June. He relinquished the appointment to the Special District Medical Board on 9 December 1918. He was selected to represent Canterbury in the Plunket Shield match at Wellington on 22 January 1919, a match which Canterbury won. “P. S. Foster introduced himself with a light agreeable voice and conspicuous taste . . . . “ in his two solos at the Liedertafel concert in March 1919. He was mentioned in the Day’s Honours for his first-grade bowling (three for 33) in December 1919.

Captain Foster was not discharged until 1 February 1920, when he was placed on the Special Reserve of Officers. All his overseas service was on the H.S. “Maheno”, for which he received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. At Christchurch Hospital he took over the Military Ward (orthopaedic unit). He was transferred to the Reserve of Officers, N.Z. Medical Corps, as requested, on 7 July 1921. He was required to “perform such annual training as my from time to time be prescribed for officers on the Reserve of Officers” and to “report in writing between the 1st and 31st January each year” to General Headquarters of New Zealand Military Forces. Half the period of efficient service on the Reserve of Officers qualified towards the award of the New Zealand Long and Efficient Service Medal and the New Zealand Territorial Service Medal. In 1925, in 1926, and in 1927, he was provided with the dates and places of upcoming training camps.

While he was still playing cricket for his West Christchurch Club in 1922, from 1920 he was into golf. In early March 1922, he was elected an officer of the New Zealand Medical Graduates’ Association. The first reunion of Otago High School old boys, in Christchurch, was held on 23 October 1924, Dr. P. S. Foster giving an item. He reached the semi-finals of golf’s Cox Cup in September 1925. In December 1926, he contributed songs at the Christchurch Rotary Club’s concert in aid of the New Zealand fund for band instruments for the Institute for the Blind and the Christchurch fund to provide a wireless set for the Mental Hospital patients. He made a valuable donation to the general fund of the Christchurch Leidertafel Society in the 1926-27 year and was elected a vice-president at the annual meeting. In December 1927, the Christchurch Rotary Club raised funds to provide Christmas comforts for those in need. Led by Dr. P. S. Foster, the president, they collected at a tent in Cathedral Square, and were assisted by the ladies under the guidance of Mrs Foster. The hampers purchased were to be delivered on Christmas Eve. In 1928, Dr. Foster spent two months in Canada and the United States, where he visited the Mayo Clinic and other hospitals, and three months seeing hospital work in England and Scotland, then the Continent. Back home in February 1929, Dr. and Mrs P. Stanley Foster hosted a garden party “at their picturesque home in Papanui road” for Rotarians attending the seventh New Zealand Conference. At the Otago High School old boys’ Christchurch reunion in August 1930, Dr. P. S. Foster acknowledged the toast to the debt they owed to their old school and also gave an item. At the Rotary Club visit to the Y.M.C.A. camp at Wainui in January 1934 – to play a cricket match with the boys and to see the camp activities in progress – Stanley played in the Rotary Club team but had to retire on 7 when he slipped between the wickets and twisted an ankle just as he was settling down to a comfortable innings. Dr. Foster was appointed a member of the Medical Council in June 1934 and again in February 1928. A number of friends and Fellows of the Royal Empire Society gathered on 25 March 1935 to say good-bye to Dr. P. S. Foster who, with his wife and daughter, was leaving from Auckland by the “Aorangi” on 2 April. He intended visiting the Montreal branch of the society and also several of the leading surgical hospitals, including the Mayo Clinic, and then going to the Rotary conference in Mexico City. The best wishes of the North Canterbury Hospital Board were also extended to the doctor, with the hope that he would have a pleasant trip and bring back much information of value to the hospital. In December 1935, Dr. P. Stanley Foster, of Christchurch, Governor of the New Zealand District of Rotary International, visited Hawera, the town of his childhood, and delivered an interesting address on his trip to Mexico to the local Rotary Club.

The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, London, announced, with much pleasure, in September 1937 that Dr. Philip Stanley Foster had been appointed Hon. Local Representative for Christchurch. Surgeon Mr P. S. Foster was reappointed to the honorary staff of the Christchurch Public Hospital in June 1939. Their eldest daughter, Patricia, married August 1939, the reception being held at their home. Dr. and Mrs. Foster lived at their “Woodford”, Papanui Road address for many years, he retiring there in 1946. In November following the engagement was announced of their second daughter, June, who was born in 1918. After her marriage in 1940, her husband was in camp at Trentham. In June 1940, P. S. Foster contributed £20 to the Sick, Wounded and Distress Fund. On 22 December 1940, for the fourteenth year in succession the annual handicap bogey golf match for the Foster Cup was played at Shirley. “The cup was presented in 1927 by Mr P. Stanley Foster to the Canterbury branch of the British Medical Association for competition amongst its members, and it has been the means of stimulating interest in golf amongst doctors in the country as well as in the city and suburbs.” The name on the cup in 1934 is that of the donor.

A communication to Captain P. S. Foster from Army Headquarters, dated 8 March 1948, read “On account of your having reached the retiring age of 55 years, I regret to have to inform you that, in accordance with the regulations, you are being posted to the Retired List of the New Zealand Military Forces. Officers on the Retired List have the privilege of retaining their rank and wearing the prescribed uniform on special occasions.”

Philip Stanley Foster died on 20 March 1965 at Christchurch, just shy of his 80th birthday, and was cremated privately at the Harewood Crematorium. He was survived by his wife Florence and his three daughters – Patricia (Pat) who had married for a second time and was living in Perth, Western Australia; June (Mrs Stewart, Christchurch) and Diana (Christchurch), and by a brother, Mr H. C. Foster (Palmerston North), and a sister, Mrs Emily Morris (Christchurch). He appointed June and Diana and a Christchurch solicitor as executors of his Will. He made provision for his wife and for his daughters – Patricia Condry, June Stewart and Diana Foster. “In faith and testimony whereof these Letters Testimonial are issued.” He had led a very full, productive and generous life – for many years director of surgery at Christchurch Hospital, a pioneer of modern surgery, and a member of the North Canterbury Hospital Board; serving with the New Zealand Medical Corps in the hospital ship Maheno in World War 1; a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (England) and of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, being made a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George; a contributor to medical journals; a cricketer of note - right-hand batsman and right-arm off-break bowler - playing for Otago, Wellington and Canterbury; a foundation member of the Rotary Club of Christchurch and District Governor; an enthusiastic performer with the Christchurch Liedertafel, and life member from 1943. Before Florence Foster died in 1978, her youngest daughter had moved to Sydney, Australia.

IN ARDUIS , FIDELIS. “In proud Memory of the Officers and Men of the N.Z. Medical Corps who were trained on these grounds 1914-1918, and who sacrificed their lives for the Empire.” This is the inscription on a unique memorial which was unveiled and dedicated at the Awapuni racecourse at the beginning of December 1929. Among the surviving officers “whose names are available, and to whom invitations to be present have been extended” was Captain P. S. Foster (Christchurch). “Four thousand members of the New Zealand Medical Corps who participated in the Great War were trained at Awapuni which was a remarkable camp, noted for its cleanliness and discipline.” The memorial was restored and rededicated in October 2016. Stanley Foster’s name is recorded on the Wanganui Collegiate School Roll of Honour.

Stanley’s brother, Howard Carpenter Foster, enlisted in World War One, but saw no service overseas. Two cousins - Philip John Henry Foster and Fred Stephen Brittenden - also served. Fred who was born at Timaru, lived most of his short life with his family in Victoria, Australia. He served with the Australian Forces and lost his life at the Somme in 1916. All four men were the descendants of a Deal boatman, Philip Jarvis Foster, who emigrated in 1858/1859 and settled in Timaru. Another brother, William Tremere Foster, who was a teacher, was called up in 1918, while two other cousins – Richard Philip Earl and Frederick Charles Earl – were listed on the Reserve Rolls. A much younger cousin, George David Foster, served in World War Two, as did a nephew, Howard Francis Foster. When his father, Mr Robert Francis Foster, died in June 1936 at Christchurch, the two daughters and three of the sons (Stanley and Howard included) were living in New Zealand, while the two eldest sons had gone abroad to pursue their careers. He was a member of the Waimataitai School Committee. Their mother, Kitty, had died in March 1912 when the family lived in Dunedin.


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