FOSTER, Theodore
(Service number 8/2914)

Aliases Theo or Ted
First Rank Private Last Rank Corporal


Date 21 September 1893 Place of Birth Pleasant Point

Enlistment Information

Date 12 June 1915 Age 21 years 8 months
Address at Enlistment c/o G. P. O., Dunedin
Occupation Groom (Wains Hotel, Dunedin)
Previous Military Experience G Company 10th Regiment Oamaru - 4 years; still serving
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin A. E. FOSTER (brother), care of J. Preston, Glenlyon, Pukaki; later Miss Lavinia FOSTER (sister), C/o Princess Cafe, High Street, Dunedin, then 83 Oxford Street, South Dunedin
Religion Church of England
Medical Information Height 5 feet 9½ inches. Weight 11 stone 7 lbs. Chest measurement 37-38 inches. Complexion dark. Eyes brown. Hair dark. Sight - both eyes 6/6. hearing and colour vision both good. Limbs well formed. Heart and lungs normal. Chest well formed. Teeth good. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects. Had had a fit. Illness - appendicitis 5 years ago. Fit.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 7th Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Otago Infantry Battalion
Date 9 November 1915
Transport Warrimoo
Embarked From Wellington Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Otago Infantry Regiment

Military Awards

Campaigns Egyptian; Western European
Service Medals 1914-1915 Star; 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 22 June 1919 Reason On termination of period of engagement.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

13 July 1915, Levin Camp, admitted to hospital with influenza & measles rash. 15 July 1915 weakness on parade; sent to hospital - sweating, cold shivers, cough & headache. 23 August 1915 admitted to Wakari Military Hospital, Dunedin from Dunedin Hospital - meningococcal carrier. 18 August 1916 admitted, sick, to 25th General Hospital at Rouen. 18 April 1917 admitted, sick, to 2nd Australian General Hospital at Boulogne; fractured fibula. 22 April 1917 admitted to Walton on Thames Hospital from France - accidental ankle fracture; 16 May 1917 transferred to Convalescent Depot at Hornchurch. Disability happened on 15 April 1917 at Kortepyp. 14 February 1919 at Codford, Medical Board determined he was suffering from debility, debility which originated in the Winter of 1916-17 in France. Winter colds every winter since then & ringing in ears, caused by stress & strain of service. Middle ear catarrh.

Post-war Occupations

Labourer; carpenter


Date 19 July 1970 Age 76 years
Place of Death 10 Hart Street, Woolston, Christchurch (residence)
Notices Press, 20 July 1970
Memorial or Cemetery Ruru Lawn Cemetery, Christchurch
Memorial Reference Block 1D, Plot 162
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Theodore Foster, known as Ted, was the elder son of Theodore (aka Edward) and Eliza (née Attiwell) Foster. He was born on 21 September 1893 at Pleasant Point and, with his brother Alfred, 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. Theodore started his schooling at Pleasant Point at the age of five. There in 1900 he received a First-class certificate. His mother died in April 1901 and was buried at Pleasant Point. Probably soon after, Theodore transferred to the Oamaru area where he attended Tokorahi, Island Cliff and Windsor schools. The children appear to have come into the care of others in North Otago, although their father did move to Tokorahi. In 1901 at Tokorahi he received a prize for general excellence in Standard I. The next year his prize was for merit (3rd place) Standard II and in 1903 merit (first) in Standard III composition, while in 1904 it was merit (first) in Standard IV drawing and writing. His success continued in 1905 with merit (first place) in Standard V. Still at Tokorahi in 1906, he was rewarded for merit (second place) in Standard VI and a special prize for third in an essay “on what the children saw at the Oamaru Mail Office”. His father, Edward Foster (Theodore), died on 15 April 1912 at the Oamaru Hospital and was buried in the local cemetery. Theo. Foster, junior, may well have beenthe honorary secretary of the Wanaka Quadrille Club which was to hold a Plain and Fancy Dress Ball as a wind-up night on 26 August 1914.

On 25 May 1915, Theodore Foster, a groom in Dunedin, was one of forty men pass fit at the medical examination. Selected from the Dunedin group for the Otago quota of the Seventh Reinforcements, he would leave for Trentham on 12 June. The Seventh Reinforcements from Otago and Southland were accorded a memorable farewell, the only thing lacking being the sunshine. “But this lack was more than counterbalanced by the brightness of spirit of the soldiers and citizens, and by the stirring music of bands and the excellence of a display by the workers of the State railway shops at Hillside, whose procession was one of the finest displays made in Dunedin for some time.” The Otago military district was sending a full quota of sturdy men for the Seventh Reinforcements. The formalities took place in the Garrison Hall. “A little after 11 o’clock the Southland contingent joined the Dunedin quota, and the whole, forming a long column of well-set-up young men, marched briskly through the main streets to the station, cheers greeting them all along the way.” At the Railway Station, cheers were called and spontaneously given, followed by the singing of the National Anthem, led by the St Kilda Band. Addressing the men, the Mayor said that they had “gathered to say God-speed to another contingent of the brave boys of Otago and Southland who were making the greatest sacrifice that was possible for any young men to make for their Empire.” He wished them good luck and a safe return. The men marched swiftly to the platform to the sound of music and cordial farewells. Among those who entrained was Theodore Foster (Infantry - Territorials).

He had registered for compulsory military training at Oamaru and had served for four years with the 10th Regiment (Oamaru). His next-of-kin on enlistment (12 June 1915 at Trentham) was his brother Alfred Edward Foster, care of J. Preston, Glenlyon, Pukaki. Later, after Alfred had left for the Front, his sister became his next-of-kin - Miss Lavinia Foster, C/o Princess Cafe, High Street, Dunedin, then 83 Oxford Street, South Dunedin. He was a groom at Wains Hotel, Dunedin, single and Anglican, and his own address was C/o G.P.O., Dunedin. He stood at 5 feet 9½ inches, weighed 11 stone 7 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 37-38 inches. Of dark complexion dark, he had brown eyes and dark hair. His sight, hearing, colour vision and teeth were all good, his limbs and chest well formed, and his heart and lungs normal. Although he had had a fit and appendicitis 5 years ago, he was free of diseases, was vaccinated and, being in good bodily and mental health, was assessed fit.

On 13 July 1915 at Levin Camp, Theo was admitted to hospital with influenza and measles rash. Two days prior he had shown weakness on parade. When he was sent to hospital, his chief symptoms were sweating, cold shivers, cough and headache. A memo from the Principal Medical Officer, Otago Military District, Dunedin, dated 24 August 1915, reported that Pte T. Foster, D Coy, 7th Reinforcements, had been admitted to Wakari Military Hospital on 23 August “on transfer from Dunedin Hospital, the bacteriological examination having proved that he is a meningococcal carrier.” The Camp Commandant at Trentham had recommended his admission to Dunedin Hospital for observation. His next-of-kin was advised that his condition was serious. He was still at Wakari on 10 September 1915 and was granted sick leave till 5 October.

Private T. Foster embarked with the Otago Infantry Battalion of the 7th Reinforcements, departing from Wellington for Suez, Egypt, per the “Warrimoo” on 9 October 1915. Having disembarked at Suez, he joined his unit on 9 January 1916. Foster was admitted, sick, to the 25th General Hospital at Rouen on 18 August 1916, rejoining his battalion on 3 October. He was again admitted, sick, on 18 April 1917, this time to the 2nd Australian General Hospital at Boulogne; the next day the assessment was fractured fibula. He embarked for England and was admitted to Walton on Thames Hospital from France on 22 April 1917 with an accidental ankle fracture (slight); he was transferred to the Convalescent Depot at Hornchurch on 16 May 1917. The disability, which happened on 15 April 1917 at Kortepyp in the course of military duty, was not serious and would probably not interfere “with his future efficiency as a soldier”. He was in no way to blame for the accident. He left Hornchurch on 5 July, on leave, and reported at Codford on 20 July, being attached to Strength.

On 18 March 1918, he was granted the temporary rank of corporal while he was employed on the Instructional Staff at the Codford Depot. He was still at Codford as of October 1918. At the Codford Convalescent Depot, he was promoted to Corporal on 10 December 1918. The Medical Board determined on 24 February 1919 at Codford that Corporal T. Foster was suffering from debility, debility which originated in the Winter of 1916-17 in France. He had had winter colds every winter since then and ringing in his ears, caused by the stress and strain of service. A nasal specialist reported middle ear catarrh. (Heart and lungs negative.) In summary, his disability was the result of Active Service, was caused by climate, and was not permanent but of minimum of 6 weeks duration. The assessment for pension purposes was less than 20% disability.

A letter purporting to be from Theo. Foster was published in the Timaru Herald of 20 July 1916. Details in the letter do not match Theo’s record – he appears to have embarked for France soon after arriving in Egypt (January 1916); of 10th Reinforcements (was of 7th Reinforcements); writing to his mother (mother had died in 1901; Trooper Evans’ mother?); nephew of Trooper Evans (was cousin of Trooper Owen Evans whose letter was published at the same time); with Mounted Rifles, a “decent horse” (was with the Infantry); names three other South Canterbury men he met (had been away from South Canterbury since the age of five).

By March 1917, official post-card acknowledgements forwarded by the Junior Army and Navy Stores, Ltd., had been received in Milton from a number of servicemen, among them Theo. Foster, suggesting that he had been resident in the district prior to the war. “A large number of the recipients add brief expressions of their sincere gratitude for the kindly remembrance by the Fire Brigade and residents of Tokomairiro.”

The Paparoa’s draft (No. 246) left from Glasgow on 1 April 1919 and was due at Wellington on 13 May 1919, bringing home Corporal T, Foster, 8/2914, of Dunedin. He was discharged on 22 June 1919. He had given over four years of service, the majority overseas in Egypt and Western Europe, and was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His intended address was initially 83 Oxford Street, Dunedin (the address of his sister Lavinia), but was amended to Cromwell via Dunedin.

In July 1921, Theodore Foster. “something ‘way back Cromwell way”, was twice ejected from the Prince of Wales Hotel, Dunedin, when he was supposed not to visit pubs. He had moved to Christchurch by 1922. Theodore married Fanny Lillian Lawrence in 1925. Theodore has not been identified on the electoral rolls between 1925 and 1938, nor Fanny from their marriage. In early August 1930, Theodore Foster, a single man, aged 32, slipped in Christchurch, striking his head on the edge of the pavement. He was admitted to Christchurch Hospital with head injuries, but his condition was not serious. Later in the 1930s, Theodore had appeared in court in Christchurch in September 1937 on a fraud charge (1931-1937) and was sentenced to six months imprisonment with hard labour. Theodore and Fanny divorced in 1939, Theo petitioning on the grounds of desertion, and the case being heard in the Timaru Supreme Court. Fanny remarried in 1940. He married Grace Eleanor Flint (née Nilsen) in 1947. Grace and her first husband were divorced in 1946. After their marriage, Theodore and Grace remained in Christchurch, Theo employed as a carpenter until his retirement in the mid-1950s.

Theodore Foster died on 19 July 1970 at his Christchurch residence, 10 Hart Street, Woolston, aged 76 years, his next-of-kin being his widow, Mrs G. E. Foster. He was buried in the Servicemen’s section of Ruru Lawn Cemetery, Christchurch. When Grace died in August 1988, her ashes were interred with Theodore. Theo was survived by his wife Grace, daughter Ann, and sister Ann (Mrs Condgen [Congdon], Sydney). The death notice also mentioned his late brother Alfred (Oamaru). Both Theodore’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. Grace Eleanor Foster appointed her youngest daughter, Ann Thea Payne, sole executrix and trustee of her Will. Bequeathing all her estate to this daughter, she declared that all her estate was acquired subsequent to her marriage to Theodore Foster, the natural father to this daughter. She declared further that the children of her first marriage to Harold Frederick Flint (deceased) received the assets of the estate of their natural father.

Theodore Foster and Alfred Edward 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 W5537 0041629) [22 May 2016]; Temuka Leader, 18 December 1900, Oamaru Mail, 24 December 1901, 22 December 1902, 21 December 1903, 24 December 1904, 22 December 1905, 24 December 1906, 15 & 16 April 1912, North Otago Times, 16 & 17 April 1912, Cromwell Argus, 10 August 1914, Evening Star, 26 May 1915, 12 June 1915, Otago Daily Times, 10 June 1915, Timaru Herald, 20 July 1916, 4 October 1939, Bruce Herald, 26 March 1917, NZ Times, 1 May 1919, NZ Truth, 23 July 1921, Press, 6 August 1930, 17 & 25 September 1937, 29 November 1939, 20 July 1970 (Papers Past) [22 & 25 May 2016; 13 & 16 March 2023]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [22 May 2016]; School Admission records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG & Oamaru Branch NZSG) [22 & 25 May 2016]; Ruru Lawn Cemetery burial record (Christchurch City Council) 22 May 2016]; Ruru Lawn Cemetery headstone transcription (South Canterbury Branch NZSG cemetery records) [22 May 2016]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [25 May 2016]; Baptism records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG collection) [14 March 2023]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, South Canterbury Genealogy Society

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