FOSTER, Roland Suddard
(Service number 46944)

First Rank Sapper Last Rank Rifleman


Date 11 May 1895 Place of Birth Timaru

Enlistment Information

Date 26 January 1917 Age 22 years 7 months
Address at Enlistment Michie Street, Roslyn, Dunedin
Occupation Electrician
Previous Military Experience Signalling Company
Marital Status Single. Married 1919 in England.
Next of Kin Mrs Arthur FOSTER (mother), Schoolhouse, Lismore, Canterbury. Later Mrs C. E. FOSTER (wife), London Road, Stevenage, Hants, England
Religion Church of England
Medical Information Height 5 feet 5½ inches. Weight 137 lbs. Chest measurement 32-35 inches. Complexion fresh. Eyes grey. Hair flaxen. Sight - right eye 6/6, left eye 6/9. Hearing good. Colour vision normal. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart and lungs normal. Illnesses - trivial. Free from hernia, variococele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated (left arm). Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects. No fits. Fit. Class A.

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 27th Reinforcements Second Draft Divisional Signallers
Date 16 July 1917
Transport Athenic
Embarked From Wellington Destination Liverpool, Merseyside, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With New Zealand Rifle Brigade

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European
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 14 July 1919 Reason Discharged overseas

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Went to hospital at Stevenage for a week from 16 November 1917.

Post-war Occupations

Electrical engineer


Date 10 July 1961 Age 67 years
Place of Death Tauranga
Memorial or Cemetery Tauranga Anglican Cemetery
Memorial Reference Block 26, Row 32, Plot 43
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Roland Suddard Foster was the elder 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. Roland Suddard Foster was born on 1 May 1894 at Timaru and baptized on 18 November 1894 at St Mary’s Anglican Church, Timaru, his parents the sponsors. He was sometimes known as Suddard, that being his paternal grandmother’s family name, or as Roland Suddard-Foster. 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.

Roland started his schooling at Timaru Main School, going there from Kindergarten. In February 1906 he spent just four days at Christchurch East School, recorded as coming from the North Island then as leaving the district. Roland likely inherited some of his mother’s musical talent. In 1908, he gained a pass in the Junior Division of the Trinity College of Music solo singing examination. Perhaps, but questionable because of his age, he was Mr R. S. Foster who performed in the Scottish Song section (amateurs) at the Competitions held in Christchurch in May 1912. The fifth grade Rugby football teams held a combined social in mid-May 1912 at the Boys’ Gordon Hall. (The Boys Gordon Hall was a department of the YMCA.) The first part of the evening was spent in a mock athletic contest in which every one of the fifty boys took some part. Before supper musical items were given by two of the boys – Roland Foster and Stanley Elliott. In June 1913 he gave songs at a concert in aid of Sydenham Boy’s Club In November 1916 at the Ashburton Court, Rowland Foster was fined 20 shilling and costs for driving a motor-car too fast.

Roland Suddard Foster, an electrical engineer, of 216 Worcester Street, Christchurch, was initially listed on the Army Reserve Rolls. A special “Gazette” was issued in Wellington at noon on 12 January 1917. It contained the names of the men drawn in the third ballot under the Military Service Act. One of those names was Roland Suddard Foster, electrical engineer, c/o J. S. Webb, Michie Street, Roslyn, Dunedin. (Joseph Skottowe Webb was Roland’s uncle.) And so, on 29 January at Dunedin he enlisted and was medically examined. He was 5 feet 5½ inches tall, weighed 137 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 32-35 inches. His complexion was fresh, his eyes grey and his hair flaxen. His sight in his right eye was good, his left eye 6/9. His hearing, colour vision, heart and lungs were all normal, his limbs and chest well formed. He was in good bodily and mental health, having had only trivial illnesses, being vaccinated, and being free of diseases, slight defects and fits. He was Fit - Class A. He was still serving with the Signalling Company. He was an electrician for Turnbull and Jones Dunedin and gave his address as Michie Street, Roslyn, Dunedin. Single and of Church of England affiliation, he named his mother as next-of-kin – Mrs A. Foster, Schoolhouse, Lismore, Canterbury. Two people were absolutely dependent on him – his mother and sister.

Roland Suddard Foster was one of thirty-eight who answered the roll-call when a supplementary draft to bring the 26th Reinforcements to full strength left Dunedin for Trentham by the 11.14 express on 13 February 1917. After the parade at the Kensington Hall, they were addressed by the mayor and a colonel and a chaplain offered prayer. The men now before him, said the Mayor, were going to fight for the greatest cause that was ever fought for — the upholding of everything good and true. He added that the persons who were making the greatest sacrifice were the relatives left behind. The citizens wished the men God speed and good luck, and hoped the day was not far distant when they would be welcomed back. The men were then played into the station by the St. Kilda Band. Roland was initially posted to the 25th Reinforcements, then transferred on 22 March 1917 to the Signallers of the 27th Reinforcements and on 13 May to the Signallers of the 27th Reinforcements.

Sapper R. S. Foster embarked with the divisional Signallers of the 27th Reinforcements, departing from Wellington for Liverpool, England, on 16 July 1917 per the “Athenic”. It was at Plymouth that he disembarked, on 16 September. He was immediately taken on Strength, on 17 September, at the New Zealand Reserve Signal Depot at Stevenage. There he went to hospital for a week from 16 November. It was 6 April 1918 when he proceeded overseas to France. This was a few days after he had been reprimanded for being improperly dressed on Parade at Stevenage.

The following item appeared in the Press of 21 March 1918 - It appears that Maori music is tremendously popular with English audiences, whom New Zealanders entertain. In a letter, Sapper Roland Foster —who, before leaving Christchurch, was beginning to be very kindly received by Christchurch audiences — says, in reference to a forthcoming entertainment by his company: “This concert is going to be a wonderful affair. In fact, we quite expect the Maori hakas and dances to stagger the English folk properly. . . . Besides singing Walter Hill’s song, ‘Wa-ia Poi,’ I am singing two other Maori songs. The play company are doing two little plays, which we expect will move the audience to tears, therefore we have ordered three dozen tin buckets, so that they won't swamp the place out.” Also, in speaking of an entertainment, he says: — “The accompaniments were piano and fiddle, and for an orchestra we have four fiddles, cornet, clarinet, and a pianist. Not so bad for a small company like ours.”

In July 1918, when his mother was in Timaru for the winter months and his brother Basil was in camp and Roland was with the Forces in France, the Timaru Herald of 13 July 1918 reported - When resident in England Mr Foster was exceptionally well received as a baritone singer. A concert which he helped to organise, and at which he sang Alfred Hill’s “Poi Song,” the Maori “War Song." and other solos, realised £90, for the benefit of the “Trench Comforts” fund, and was spoken of by the Press as a phenomenal success.

On 28 September 1918 he was transferred to the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. And then on 27 January 1919 he went to the UK on leave. Roland Suddard Foster married Constance Evelyn Chouler on 1 February 1919 at the Parish Church, Stevenage. Perhaps they met at Stevenage? The Star of 8 March 1919 reported thus - Mr Roland Foster, electrical engineer, whose marriage in England to Miss Constance Chouler is announced, left for military duty with the 27th Divisional Signallers, and is now of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade Concert Company. He is a grandson of the Rev George Foster, first incumbent of St Mary’s, Timaru, who came to New Zealand in the Tornado before the arrival of the “first four ships,” and had the usual rough experiences of a pioneer clergyman, his parish extending far into the Mackenzie Country, when rivers were still unbridged and life had little to soften its freedom. Miss Chouler was in Germany, studying languages and music, when the war broke out. She immediately, and not without difficulty, returned to England to offer herself for national service. As a member of the V.A.D. she did good work nursing in military hospitals and in whatever service her association required during the whole period of the war. Miss Chouler is a medallist of the Royal Academy of Music. And the Press of 19 March 1919 - Mr Roland Foster, whose marriage in England was announced in “The Press” recently, left New Zealand with the 27th Divisional Signallers. Later he joined the Concert Company Service, and latterly was with the Rifle Brigade, in the army of occupation on the Rhine. His bride (née Miss Constance Choules) studied music at the Royal Academy, taking the diploma or L.R.A.M. when she was nineteen years of age, and was in Germany studying languages and pianoforte, when war broke out. She immediately, and not without difficulty, returned to England, and took voluntary national service, nursing in hospitals and with the V.A.D generally. Mr Foster is the eldest son of Mrs Arthur Foster, well-known in Canterbury musical circles. Another son is with the 43rd Reinforcements.

Thereafter, Mrs C. E. Foster, London Road, Stevenage, Hants, was added as a next-of-kin. Their son – their only child – Donald Francis Suddard Foster was born on 18 November 1919 and christened on 14 December 1919 at Stevenage. Detained on 3 March 1919 from leave, he reported to Brocton, and from Brocton to Codford on 14 March. His medical examination at Brocton Camp on 14 March 1919 was all good, with no abnormalities or irregularities. He was at Sling on 3 June 1919. After serving with the Army of Occupation in 1918-1919, R. S. Foster was discharged (demobilized) in London/overseas on 14 July 1919, noted as “Very Good”. All his earlier service was in Europe. His medals – British War Medal and Victory Medal – were sent to New Zealand in May 1923.

R. S. Foster finished third in the 135 yards Returned Soldiers’ Race at the Hinds Athletic Club gathering in late April 1921. Was this Roland? Mr and Mrs R. S. Foster had arrived in New Zealand from England by the “Athenic” in mid-1921. In September they were the guests of Mrs Arthur Foster at Cambridge. They settled in Tauranga, where both were soon very involved in the local community life and contributed much to society. Roland announced in September 1922 that he had commenced business as an electrical and mechanical engineer. At the Returned Soldiers’ concert held late in October 1922, Mr R. S. Foster, “whose voice and method are always delightful,” gave a most admirable rendering of “The Bandolero” as an encore to “Prince Ivan’s Song”. Mrs Suddard Foster, L.R.A.M, and Medallist R.AM., announced in February 1923 that she was prepared to accept pupils for the pianoforte. Shortly after, Mr Suddard received wireless music from Auckland, the music heard with great clearness on a two-valve set. A pianoforte solo given by Mrs Suddard Foster to open the programme at the Presbyterian Guild “At Home” in July was well rendered and greatly appreciated. At the Town Hall in August, Mr Foster sang with his usual accomplished style, and both Mr and Mrs Foster rendered songs at a sacred concert in the Town Hall in September. Mr R. Suddard Foster was one of the soloists in the Christmas music from Handel’s “Messiah” given in the Methodist Church on 25 December 1923, while Mrs Foster was at the piano. The same level of activity in 1924 - the Church of England Junior Guild promenade concert in February; wireless music received from Sydney in April, the reception being remarkably clear; both Mr and Mrs Foster members of a concert party giving vaudeville entertainment in July; songs (including “Bandolera” and “Toreador”) at the annual Dance Recital in the Town Hall on 3 October – Mr Foster’s singing “is always looked to”. 1925 saw musical items by Mr Suddard Foster and accompaniment by Mrs Suddard Foster at Trinity Church Parish Hall on 15 and 16 July. “Mr Suddard Foster is always a treat, and although suffering from a severe cold, his songs were most delightful.” Mrs Suddard Foster was an accompanist. At the annual diner of the Western By of Plenty Returned Soldiers’ Association held on Anzac Eve, 24 April 1926, Mr Suddard Foster contributed songs. He again rendered songs in August at a public farewell function, and at the Tauranga Cricket Club’s fund-raising concert in October, when Mrs Foster played pianoforte solos. Both performed at the Methodist Church’s “Christ and His Soldiers” in November 1927, Mr Foster one of the soloists – “the music to be sung by them being very beautiful, reaching a really high musical standard”, and Mrs Foster on the piano combining with the organ to produce an orchestral effect. When the Western Bay of Plenty Returned Soldiers’ Association gathered on 31 May 1928 to honour their past-president, Mr R. S. Foster contributed to an excellent programme. At the presentation of trophies in both the bowling and tennis sections of the South Bowling and Tennis Club, in June 1928, members and friends were entertained by the singing of Mr Suddard Foster, the accompaniments being played by Mrs Suddard Foster. Both contributed to a concert in aid of the Hospital Board in August; and again at a concert in aid of the Tauranga Hospital in September, Mr Foster being “heard to great advantage in two songs” and “at home in his lengthy part” in the farcical one act ‘browne with an E”, while Mrs Foster was an accompanist.

In November 1928, the music lovers of Tauranga were given a real treat to mark the centenary of Schubert’s death. The “Erl King” was sung by Mr Suddard Foster in “a very masterful and capable manner, full of artistic feeling.” Mrs Suddard Foster played “Moment Musical” delightfully and a piano duet of the famous unfinished “Symphony”, as well as the accompaniments with her usual sangfroid and artistic skill, this being especially noticeable in the “Erl King”. Mr Suddard Foster contributed songs again at the 1929 annual reunion and dinner of the Western Bay of Plenty Returned Soldiers’ Association. In July 1929, he contributed songs and led the community singing at the presentation to a departing master of the Tauranga District High School. The Tauranga Medlean Musical Club concluded its activities for 1932 with the annual social evening at the residence of Mr and Mrs Suddard Foster, Bethlehem. “Vases of Antirrhinums, relieved with clusters of gypsolphila, were arranged in the drawing room”, where guests were received by Mrs Suddard Foster. The official programme included items by Mr R. Suddard Foster. In May 1929 Mr Suddart Foster shone in a different arena. He was awarded a special prize for Best Drake in Show – Indian Runner – at the Winter Exhibition. In August 1936, his baritone voice could be heard over radio station 1YA (Auckland).

“Not too much caution can be exercised it seems even crossing an empty paddock. The small son of Mr and Mrs Suddard Foster has had that experience of late. He was running across to his home at Bethlehem for lunch and came in contact with a single barb wire suspended across the paddock. The barbs badly lacerated the boy’s throat. Prompt surgical attention however soon had the little chap well on the road to recovery.” [Bay of Plenty Times. 14 April 1932.] The next year, Mrs C. Suddard Foster and her son Donald went to England where they stayed with her parents at Stevenage and on to Germany where she had spent four years studying music just prior to the outbreak of war in August 1914.

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. She entered the church on the arm of her brother, Mr Roland Foster.

Roland Suddard Foster died on 18 July 1961 at Tauranga, aged 67 years. His next-of-kin was Mrs C. E. Foster, Bethlehem, Tauranga. He was buried in Tauranga Anglican Cemetery, his headstone inscribed “In Loving Memory of Roland Suddard Foster, born Timaru 1894 died Tauranga 1961”. When Constance died in July 1975, her ashes were interred with him. He appointed his son, Donald Francis Suddard Foster, a farmer of Tauranga, as executor of his Will, bequeathing all his property to his wife, Constance Evelyn Foster and, on her death, to his son. Donald died on 9 December 2010, aged 91 years, and was buried at Pyes Pa Cemetery, Tauranga. Roland’s brother, Arthur Basil 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 [22 May 2016]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5537 0041626) [22 May 2016]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5562 0130994) [22 May 2016]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [22 May 2016]; School Admission records (South Canterbury & Canterbury branches NZSG) [22 May 2016]; Tauranga Anglican Cemetery headstone transcription (South Canterbury Branch NZSG cemetery records) [24 May 2016]; Tauranga Anglican Cemetery headstone image & burial records (Tauranga City Council) [26 May 2016]; South Canterbury Times, 31 October 1900, Timaru Herald, 28 July 1903, 1 August 1903 [x 2], 13 July 1918, 30 July 1920, 13 & 18 March 1925, Press, 1 August 1903, 18 & 20 May 1912, 6 June 1913, 18 November 1916, 21 March 1918, 13 July 1918, 24 February 1919, 19 March 1919, 30 December 1920, 30 April 1921, 11 March 1925, 18 April 1925, 15 August 1936, Ashburton Guardian, 1 August 1903, Star, 31 August 1907, 16 April 1908, 8 March 1919, Sun, 12 January 1917, Evening Star, 13 February 1917, Dominion, 21 March 1919, Lyttelton Times, 5 May 1920, New Zealand Herald, 21 September 1921, 10 March 1925, 1 February 1926, 28 December 1932, Bay of Plenty Times, 11 September 1922, 1 November 1922, 9 February 1923, 5 March 1923, 17 July 1923, 11 August 1923, 17 September 1923, 24 December 1923, 25 February 1924, 10 April 1924, 19 July 1924, 2 & 6 October 1924, 15 & 16 July 1925, 26 April 1926, 24 August 1926, 29 October 1926, 19 & 25 November 1927, 9 & 28 June 1928, 16 August 1928, 18 September 1928, 28 November 1928, 27 April 1929, 18 May 1929, 18 July 1929, 14 April 1932, 20 March 1933, 13 August 1936, Waikato Independent, 17 May 1924, 10 March 1925, 24 December 1925, Auckland Star, 2 June 1928, 31 August 1933, 7 August 1936 (Papers Past) [22, 24, 25, 26, 27 & 28 May 2016; 19, 20 & 21 March 2023] ]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [25 May 2016]; Probate record (Archives NZ Collections) 20 March 2023]

External Links

Related Documents

Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, South Canterbury Genealogy Society

Currently Assigned to


Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Logo. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.

Tell us more

Do you have information that could be added to this story? Or related images that you are happy to share? Submit them here!

Your Details
Veteran Details
- you may attach an image or document up to 10MB