FODEN, David Findlay Watson
(Service number )

First Rank Lieutenant Last Rank Captain


Date 11 February 1889 Place of Birth Timaru

Enlistment Information

Date Age
Address at Enlistment
Occupation Officer
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status
Next of Kin
Medical Information

Military Service

Served with UK Armed Forces Served in Navy
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation
Unit, Squadron, or Ship
Embarked From Destination
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Campaigns Europe
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 Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations

Captain; Stevedore


Date *1971 Age 82 years
Place of Death London, England
Memorial or Cemetery
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

David Findlay Watson Foden was born on 11 February 1889 at Timaru, the second son of John Foden and his wife Elspet (Elsie) née Storm. John from England and Elsie from Scotland married in 1886 in New Zealand. John and Elsie and their two sons, David and Ernest, left New Zealand when the boys were very young. It was in early 1892 that Mr John Foden sold the “Whole of his Superior Household Furniture, Piano, &c.” John was returning to England to establish London buying offices for a prominent Christchurch firm. In 1900 he founded his own business and travelled widely in all parts of the world, including New Zealand. In 1901 Elsie and her three sons were at Leyton, Essex, England. James Watson Foden was born in 1893 in Essex. In 1901 Elsie, James and daughter Margaret Elsie Foden were at Woodford, Essex. Margaret was born in 1907 in Essex. Mr John Foden had been residing in London for some time when, in April 1909, he paid a visit to the High Commissioner, Mr Hall-Jones, who was an old neighbour and friend of Mr Foden during his residence in Timaru. In the intervening time, Mr Foden had made several trips to the Dominion. He made another visit in January 1911, in his capacity as a buyer for the Firm of Messrs John Foden and Co, London, of which firm he was the head. He held shares in New Zealand firms. He was frequently present at the New Zealand dinner in London, accompanied by his son David at the eighteenth annual dinner in July 1914.

When the family arrived in England, Watson Foden entered the Bancroft Schools. David F. W. Foden, “a native of Timaru, has passed through two years’ naval training on his Majesty’s ship Worcester, . . . , passing with first-class extra certificate, and has been transferred to H.M. Royal Naval Reserve. Midshipman Foden is a nephew of Mr E. Foden, of Timaru.” (Otago Daily Times, 28 March 1906). He served several commissions in the navy, obtaining all his certificates, including that of master mariner. He then entered the service of the Cunard Company, spending his time on the Laconia and Lusitania. D. F. W. Foden was appointed sub-lieutenant on 15 March 1912 and lieutenant on 15 March 1914.

“Sub-Lieutenant D. F. Watson Foden, R.N.R., third officer of the Cunard liner Lusitania, who took part in the thrilling rescue a few weeks ago of the brigantine Mayflower, which was found drafting rudderless in mid-Atlantic, is a young New Zealander. He was born at Timaru [25 years ago], states the ‘British Australasian,’ and on arrival in England, he entered the training ship Worcester. He has now been in the service of the Cunard Company eighteen months. This is not Lieutenant Foden’s first exciting experience. Twice he has saved life by jumping overboard and rescuing people in danger of being drowned [in South Africa and South America]. On January 29 the Lord Mayor of Liverpool presented the captain of the Lusitania with an illuminated address, and the first and third officers with gold watches, subscribed for by the passengers of the Lusitania who witnessed the rescue of the Mayflower.” (Star, 13 March 1914). Medals and certificates of the Royal Humane Society were presented to the captain, chief officer, and third officer of the steamer Lusitania, for their exciting rescue of the Mayflower in mid-Atlantic, the third officer being Sub-Lieutenant D. F. Watson Foden, R.N.R., son of Mr J. Foden, formerly of Timaru.

“LUSITANIA CHASED. . . . . . LONDON August 20. The Lusitania, which is now in the control of the Admiralty, made her last voyage across the Atlantic under rather exciting conditions. There were not many passengers aboard, and several of those who did travel were British and French officers returning Home for service. . . . . . One of the Lusitania’s officers, it will be remembered, is Lieutenant F. Watson Foden, R.N.R., son of Mr John foden, formerly of Timaru, and now of London. Lieutenant Foden has saved life on more than one occasion, and received the Royal Humane Society’s medal for his part in the rescue of the Mayflower’s company in mid-Atlantic this year. Shortly before the pilot was dropped something went wrong with one of the Lusitania’s turbines, and throughout the voyage only three of the four could be used, so that the vessel could uot make more than 20 knots per hour throughout the voyage. This was unfortunate, for the ocean is still infested with tho cruisers and armed liners of the enemy. Once at sea all lights were extinguished, even the navigation lights, for collision was the most remote of the dangers now threatening tho liner on the Northern Ocean. “Lights out” was not tho only discomfort of the voyage. As soon as the vessel left New York the hands were set to work to change her appearance, so as to render her a less conspicuous mark on the ocean. On the second day out a warship was sighted at a distance. Her flag could not be distinguished, but she signalled in the international code to the Lusitania to lay to. At once the course was altered, and the Lusitania got into communication by wireless with the cruiser Essex, the chief champion of the British merchantman in the North Atlantic. Opportunely a mist came down and obscured the Lusitania from the warship, so that she was able to make her escape. Had this not intervened her position would have been uncertain, for she could not make nearly her due speed with the crippled turbine. As it was Captain Dow steered a northerly course and arrived without further incident at the Mersey, where, flying the “Out of control” signal, the great liner was loudly cheered as she passed slowly up the river.” (Press. 28 September 1914).

Lieutenant D. F. W. Foden was one of those officers returning Home for service. Beneath the heading “On Service – The New Zealand Roll in Army and Navy”, the Press (20 February 1915) recorded from the London correspondent on 5 January – “That New Zealanders abroad have not been slow to tender their services in defence of the Empire will be evident from the following list of those who are at present on service with the British Army and Navy and Auxiliary Forces. I have compiled it from sources available here, and have brought it right up to date with the latest Gazettes, though possibly there are omissions of officers and men who are serving in outlying parts of the Empire.” In that list is FODEN F. Watson (Timaru), Officer Cunard Line; Lieutenant R.N.R.

Demobilised on 7 February 1920, Lieutenant Foden was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His brothers, Ernest John Foden and James Watson Foden, both served in World War I, as did his New Zealand cousins, Edgar Stanley Foden and Leslie Norman Foden. David was promoted to commander on 11 February 1929, saw no sea service from 1923, and retired as commander. In the course of his travels, D. F. W. Foden arrived in New Zealand in September 1923 on the Rotorua. On examination on 8 September 1948, commander Foden was found to be “in a perfect state of health”. As of 1949, his address was a London one and his civilian occupation was stevedore. He married Dorothy Winifred May Prior, who survived him. He died in 1971 in London, aged 82.


NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [24 January 2020]; Timaru Herald, 3 March 1892, Otago Daily Times, 28 March 1906, Oamaru Mail, 13 April 1909, Star, 13 March 1914, Manawatu Standard, 19 March 1914, Feilding Star, 24 June 1914, Press, 22 June 1914, 28 September 1914, 20 February 1915, 12, 30 & 31 July 1941, 8 September 1941 Auckland Star, 19 September 1923 (Papers Past) [24 & 27 January 2020]; 1901 England census return ( [24 January 2020]; UK Naval Medal and Award Rolls ( [26 January 2020]; file available at The National Archives (Discovery), reference ADM 240/57/65

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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