FOSTER, Walter Edward
(Service number 6/2130)
|First Rank||Private||Last Rank||Private|
|Date||2 July 1896||Place of Birth||Timaru|
|Date||14 February 1915||Age||18 years 7 months|
|Address at Enlistment||Care of G. Argyle, Rolleston|
|Previous Military Experience||2nd South Canterbury Infantry|
|Next of Kin||George FOSTER (father), Ruapuna, Ashburton|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 5½ inches. Weight 161 lbs. Chest measurement 34-37 inches. Complexion fair. Eyes blue-grey. Hair auburn. 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 - artificial upper, satisfactory lower. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects. Never any fit, accident, serious illness (bar hydatids). Has acne at present, the result of shearing. Two scars on right side where chest was drained for hydatids 8 years ago.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||5th Reinforcements|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||Canterbury Infantry Battalion|
|Date||13 June 1915|
|Embarked From||Wellington||Destination||Suez, Egypt|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||Canterbury Regiment|
|Campaigns||Balkan - Gallipoli; Egyptian; Western European|
|Service Medals||1914-1915 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
|Date||17 August 1917||Reason||No longer physically fit for war service on account of illness contracted on Active Service.|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
24 September 1915 admitted to 2nd Australian Stationery Hospital at Mudros – diphtheria; 25 October discharged. 27 October 1915 admitted to NZ Field Ambulance - diphtheria. 4 November 1915 embarked for England by Hospital Ship “Mauretania”; 11 November 1915 admitted to Military Hospital, Tooting, London. 16 September 1916 wounded in action in field - right knee & arm; admitted to No. 1 NZ Field Ambulance, then to No. 2 General Hospital at Le Havre. 17 September embarked for England per Hospital Ship “Asturias”; 19 September 1916 admitted to 1st NZ General Hospital at Brockenhurst; 26 September transferred to NZ Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch. January 1917 classified unfit. 5 May 1917 invalided home.
|Date||9 July 1981||Age||85 years|
|Place of Death||Timaru|
|Notices||Timaru Herald, 10 July 1981; Press, 10 July 1981|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Geraldine Cemetery|
|Memorial Reference||Services Section, Row 507, Plot 7|
|New Zealand Memorials|
Walter Edward Foster, whose nickname was Bricky, was the second son of George Foster and his second wife, Jane (Jean) née Webster. He was born on 8 July 1896 at Timaru. George Foster married Annie Howell in 1875 and had six children by her, all at Burke’s Pass, the first-born dying young at Timaru. Annie died in 1887 and was buried at Burke’s Pass. The children of George and Annie attended school at Burke’s Pass. George married Jane (Jean) Webster, who was twenty-five years younger, in 1892 at Burkes Pass. George and Jane had ten children, all born in South Canterbury or Mid-Canterbury. About 1896, George and Jane moved to Ruapuna where he managed the Ruapuna Estate, then returned to South Canterbury after the war ended. At Ruapuna Mr Foster served for some years on the school committee. Mr and Mrs Foster were presented with a purse of sovereigns at Ruapuna in August 1910, as a token of esteem for their invaluable services in the district. Walter was educated at Ruapuna School, spending a few weeks at Arundel in February-March 1908. In June 1915, Mrs Foster of Ruapuna donated four pillow slips and two bath towels to the hospital ship; on 3 May 1916 at the Ruapuna Hall she was appointed to the sewing committee of subscribers to the Red Cross Funds. Later in May, G. Foster, sen., donated stock, produce and £1 cash to the Ruapuna sale in aid of the Red Cross, while Mrs Foster was one who donated liberally with sewing, refreshments and sweets and worked hard to make everything a success. When the Ruapuna Red Cross ladies decided to form a society in February 1917, Mrs Foster was elected a vice-president. Mrs Argyle, their older half-sister Edith, had lent the piano for a very successful concert and dance in aid of the Red Cross funds in the Ruapuna Hall in March 1917. On the same occasion, Mrs G. Foster and G. Foster contributed £1 to the sale of a Red Cross flag.
When Walter enlisted at Trentham on 14 February 1915, he put his age up by two years as he was only 18½ years old, and was appointed to the Canterbury Infantry Battalion of the 5th Reinforcements. He had been rejected at Tinwald as unfit for the military forces. He was serving with the 2nd South Canterbury Regiment. His brother Robert James Foster enlisted with the Fifth Reinforcements at the same time. He was 5 feet 5½ inches tall, weighed 161 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 34-37 inches. His complexion was fair, his eyes blue-grey and his hair auburn. His sight, hearing, colour vision, heart and lungs were all normal, his limbs and chest well formed. His upper teeth were artificial, his lower satisfactory. He was free from diseases and slight defects, and had never had fits, accident or serious illness (bar hydatids). There were two scars on his right side where chest was drained for hydatids 8 years prior. He had acne, the result of shearing. Overall, he was in good bodily and mental health. Walter named his father as next-of-kin – George Foster, Ruapuna, Ashburton. Single and Presbyterian, he was a farm labourer at Ruapuna, his address C/o G. Argyle, Rolleston. George Argyle was the husband of his much older half-sister, Mrs Edith Argyle. Mrs Argyle had lent the piano for a very successful concert and dance in aid of the Red Cross funds in the Ruapuna Hall in March 1917. On the same occasion, Mrs G. Foster and G. Foster contributed £1 to the sale of a Red Cross flag.
Private W. E. Foster embarked with the Canterbury Infantry Battalion of the 5th Reinforcements, departing from Wellington for Suez, Egypt, on 13 June 1915 per the “Tahiti”. His brother Robert James Foster embarked with the Fifth Reinforcements at the same time. Disembarking at Suez on 1 August 1915, he joined his Battalion at the Dardanelles on 9 August. So, at just 19 years of age, he landed at Suva Bay, Gallipoli.
He was admitted to the 2nd Australian Stationery Hospital at Mudros on 24 September 1915, afflicted with diphtheria. He was discharged to duty on 25 October, only to be admitted to the New Zealand Field Ambulance on 27 October, the diphtheria recurring. The hospital and progress report on 22 November 1915 noted that Private Walter Edward Foster, 6/2130, Canterbury Battalion, had been admitted to the Military Hospital, Tooting, London. He had embarked for England by the Hospital Ship “Mauretania” on 4 November 1915 and admitted to Tooting on 11 November. On 14 January 1916, he was attached to strength at Hornchurch. He had been in hospital in England for a considerable time suffering from shell shock. It was 14 June 1916 when he left and was attached to strength at Etaples. He rejoined his battalion on 7 July 1916 in the Field at Armentières. Just nine weeks later, on 16 September 1916, he was wounded in action - in his right knee and arm - in the Field. He was admitted initially to the No. 1 New Zealand Field Ambulance, then to the No. 2 General Hospital at Le Havre. Embarking for England per Hospital Ship “Asturias” on 17 September, he was admitted to the 1st New Zealand General Hospital at Brockenhurst [19 September 1916] from where he was transferred to the New Zealand Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch on 26 September. On leave on from early October 1916, he reported to Codford on 18 October, and to Sling on 26 October. He marched out for evacuation to New Zealand on 5 January 1917. He was classified unfit and placed on the NZ Roll on 30 January 1917.
Mr G. Foster, of Ruapuna, was advised in May 1917, that his son, Private Walter Edward Foster, was being invalided home and would arrive towards the end of the month. At this time, his older brother Robert was in England, having been wounded in France, and his younger brother George was on service in France. Walter had embarked per the “Athenic” on 5 April 1917 at Plymouth and was one of about 60 invalided soldiers belonging to the Canterbury Military District who reached Lyttelton by the ferry steamer on 14 June 1917. After being posted to Leave, he was discharged on 17 August 1917, being no longer physically fit for war service on account of illness contracted on Active Service. He was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his service at Gallipoli and in Egypt and Western Europe.
In late September 1917 at the Ruapuna Hall, Mr W. E. Foster, a returned soldier, made a farewell presentation to another local soldier and wished him every success and a safe return. After his return home, Mr W. E Foster was M.C. on countless occasions. Occupying the chair at a welcome home social tendered to another local in May 1918, W. E. Foster presented him with a gold medal and wished him a speedy recovery to health and a hearty welcome home. In June 1918, he was M.C. at another Ruapuna welcome home, in July at a farewell social, and in October 1918, he presided at a gathering of Ruapuna district residents to welcome home two more of their men. At a meeting in the Ruapuna Hall in September 1918, it was decided that straight-out giving was the best way to raise money for the “Our Day” appeal, Mr Walter Foster and Mrs Dunlop being appointed to canvass the district. At a farewell in late October 1918 to a Ruapuna family which was departing from the district, Mr W. E. Foster expressed regret at losing their mail-carrier and wished them every success in their new sphere. Surely one of the special occasions to be M.C. was the welcome home for his brother Bob Foster at the Ruapuna Hall on 22 May 1919. In July 1919 a “long-looked-for day” of celebratory festivities was much enjoyed by Mayfield, Anama and Ruapuna districts. There were bands, a procession of decorated vehicles, a “capital lunch”, various games, a game of football between returned soldiers and Mayfield youth, the presentation of bibles to the scholars of the three school, and a display of fireworks to conclude the celebrations. “The chairman desired all those present to stand for four minutes as a mark of respect for those of our braves who fell in the war.” Three returned soldiers, one of them Mr W. E. Foster, were judges of the baby show. At a very successful dance held by the Ruapuna Returned Soldiers in late July 1919, W. E. Foster was again the M.C. and he replied on behalf of the soldiers to the tribute which had been paid to them for a splendid evening. Another welcome home at the Ruapuna Hall in September 1919 saw Walter presenting the returned soldier with a gold medal and wishing him success in his future. He won the gents’ second prize at the Ruapuna Sports Committee’s fancy dress ball in October 1919, and he was an efficient M.C. at the Mayfield and Ruapuna Returned Soldiers’ concert and dance later in the month. At a welcome home in November 1919, a vote of thanks was passed to the chairman, Mr W. E. Foster, and the secretary of the Ruapuna Patriotic Committee, “for the very able and competent way in which they carried out their duties in connection with the society.”
At the annual general meeting of subscribers to the Ruapuna Hall and Library, held on 23 January 1920, Mr W. E. Foster was elected a trustee for the forthcoming year. Both Bricky and his brother Bob played football. They were selected together in the Mayfield senior team to play on 22 May 1920. Walter Edward Foster, a farmer residing at Rangitata, married Ivy Beatrice Pringle on 14 February 1923 at the residence of Henry Acland, Mount Peel. After a brief spell at Geraldine, Walter (Bricky) and Ivy settled into farming at Arundel, where the older children attended school. They moved into Geraldine in the late 1930s. In December 1925, Walter Foster was appointed a member of the Arundel Domain Board. The Peel Forest, Arundel, Rangitata, Orari Bridge and Woodbury Miniature Rifle clubs competed for the Tripp Cup at the beginning of August 1927, Walter Foster being a member of the Arundel A team. All teams were congratulated on the excellent spirit in which they had competed in a long night of shooting. Throughout August 1926, he was a regular in the Arundel Miniature Rifles team, competing in the South Canterbury Championship. Mr W. Foster was the referee for the annual football match between Arundel and Orari Bridge, played at Arundel Domain in September 1928, and a few days later for the friendly rugby football match played between Rangitata and Arundel. In December 1929, he was back in his M.C. role at a most enjoyable dance held at the Arundel Hall in aid of the newly formed Tennis Club. Mrs Foster was lucky enough to win the cake raffle. At the March 1929 meeting of the Ashburton County Council, advice “was received from Mr W. E. Foster, of Arundel, to the effect that a swagger boiling his billy close to the south end of the Rangitata Traffic Bridge had allowed the fire to spread, burning out completely the bridge reserve. Only a change in the wind and two hours’ hard work by several residents, including the writer, had arrested the fire just as it reached the south approach. Straw and broom had been placed under the bridge by swaggers for bedding. It was decided to write thanking the residents for their efforts in preventing the fire extending to the bridge, and also that they be paid wages for the time occupied.”
In March 1965, Walter E. Foster wrote to Army Headquarters from his Geraldine address, seeking replacements for his Medal Ribbons “which have been in use since issued (1917.” He intended to travel to Rotorua for the 50th Celebrations. He was the oldest entrant to compete in the Golden Shears at Masterton in 1967, stealing some of the highlights from his younger competitors.
Walter Edward Foster died on 9 July 1981 at Timaru, a week after his 85th birthday. Bricky was the patron of the Geraldine Rugby Football Club and had earlier served as president. Club members formed a guard of honour at his funeral at the Geraldine Cemetery on 11 July and Geraldine RSA members paid their respects. He was of Waihi Terrace, Geraldine and was 85 years of age. His funeral was held at St Andrew’s Church, Geraldine and his grave was marked by a services plaque. Predeceased by his wife Ivy, he was survived by seven of his eight children – Doug (Walter Douglas), June Hull, Edna Hall, Graham, Colin, Norma Leary and Lyndon, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Ivy had died on 6 May 1970 and was cremated at Salisbury Park Crematorium. While living at Arundel, Walter and Ivy lost their eldest little daughter, Elva Gertrude Foster, who died on 2 November 1927 at Talbot Hospital, Timaru, aged 3 years, and was buried at Mount Peel. By his Will signed in June 1969 when he was a war pensioner, Walter named his wife as the prime beneficiary of his estate, but Ivy died in May 1970. His children were, therefore, the beneficiaries in equal shares.
Walter had two brothers who also served in World War One – Robert James Foster (Geraldine), also of the 5th Reinforcements, who died in 1976, and George Albert Webster Foster (Dunedin) who was awarded the Military Medal in 1918, after Walter had returned home, and died in 1968. Two younger siblings outlived Walter – Dorothy (Doris) Adamson and Don. His son Walter Douglas Foster (Doug) served in World Wat Two and was also buried at Geraldine with a services plaque marking his grave. Several nephews are known to have served in World War Two – Thomas Henry George Sadler, Archibald Smith Foster, George Webster Foster and George Ernest Allan. George Foster, senior, died 5 July 1931 at the residence of his son Walter at Arundel and was buried at Geraldine. He was survived by his second wife, Jane, and by six sons and two daughters of his second marriage. Reginald Foster, the fourth son of George and Jane, died in November 1900 at the Timaru Hospital, aged 2 years and 4 months. Mary Jane Foster (Tottie), their eldest daughter, married Thomas Henry Amon Sadler in 1914 at the Ruapuna Hall. Mary Jane Sadler died three months before her father, leaving a young family. Only two daughters of George’s first marriage were living when he died; his only son by Annie, William George Foster, died in February 1914 at Waimate Hospital, following an accident when his motorcycle hit a cow. Some years after George’s death, Jane married widower Edward McCabe, who predeceased her. Jane died on 25 March 1955 at Timaru and was buried at Geraldine with George. She, too, was survived by six sons and two daughters.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [22 May 2016]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5537 0041638) [24 May 2016]; Timaru Herald, 26 November 1900, 7 & 12 September 1914, 12 July 1916, 29 December 1925, 16 & 30 August 1926, 3 August 1927, 3 & 14 November 1927, 15 & 18 September 1928, 9 December 1929, 6 July 1931, 13 August 1931, Ashburton Guardian, 25 August 1910, 19 June 1915, 9 & 22 May 1916, 19 February 1917, 13 March 1917, 14 May 1917, 10 May 1918, 28 June 1918, 4 July 1918, 12 September 1918, 28 October 1918, 17 January 1919, 3 June 1919, 23 & 30 July 1919, 26 September 1919, 13, 27 & 31 October 1919, 10 November 1919, 2 February 1920, 21 May 1920, 29 April 1921, 1 March 1929, Sun, 23 November 1915, NZ Times, 23 November 1915, Press, 11 July 1916, 15 May 1917, 15 July 1931, 26 March 1955, 10 July 1981, Lyttelton Times, 11 July 1916, 13 June 1917, 1 October 1917, 18 October 1918, Otago Witness, 19 July 1916 (Papers Past) [22 & 23 May 2016; 11 & 17 March 2023; 02, 06 & 07 April 2023; 08 May 2023]; Timaru Herald, 10 & 13 July 1981 (Timaru District Library) [23 May 2016]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [22 May 2016]; School Admission record (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [22 May 2016]; Geraldine Cemetery headstone images (Timaru District Council) [22 May 2016]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [24 May 2016]; Probate record (Archives NZ Collections – Record number TU351/81) [09/04/2023]; Orari Presbyterian marriage record (South Canterbury Museum) [11 May 2023]
- FOSTER George A W, Robert James (6-2387), & Walter Edward - newspaper clippings (pdf, 253.5 KB updated 06-Jul-2023)
Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, South Canterbury Genealogy Society
Currently Assigned to
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