FOSTER, George Albert Webster
(Service number 27261)

First Rank Private Last Rank Private


Date 25 June 1897 Place of Birth Ruapuna

Enlistment Information

Date 1 June 1916 Age 18 years 11 months
Address at Enlistment Ruapuna
Occupation Farm hand
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs IRGLE (friend), Ruapuna, Canterbury
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information Height 5 ft 6½ in. Weight 160 lbs. Chest measurement 34½-37 in. Complexion fair. Eyes grey. Hair brown. Sight & hearing good. Colour vision correct. Limbs & chest well formed. Full & perfect movements of all joints. Heart and lungs normal. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccination mark. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. No fits. Illness – scars of operations for hydatids of liver & removal of appendix.

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 17th Reinforcements, J Company
Date 25 September 1916
Transport Devon
Embarked From Destination Devonport, Devon, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Canterbury Infantry

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European
Service Medals British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards Military Medal

Award Circumstances and Date

For Acts of Gallantry in the Field. 15 November 1918

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 24 April 1919 Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

9 July 1916 admitted to hospital at Trentham – measles; discharged 22 July. 28 January 1917 sent to hospital, sick; admitted to No. 3 NZ Field Ambulance, & to NZ Division Rest Station a few days later. 10 February discharged to Reinforcements Camp; 13 February 1917 admitted to No. 1 NZ Field Ambulance - influenza. 18 March 1917 sent to Hospital, sick. 20 March 1917 admitted, sick, to Northumbrian Casualty Clearing Station at Rouen, France; discharged week later. 9 July 1917 sent to Hospital, sick; admitted, firstly, to No. 1 NZ Field Ambulance, then to No. 2 Australian Casualty Clearing Station & to No. 2 Australian General Hospital at Wimereux on 11 July. From 10 to 14 July 1917, he was in hospital in France with slight N.Y.D. (not yet diagnosed); then diagnosed as ruptured membrane tymphonia. Embarked from France for England per Hospital Ship St Patrick - severe otitis media; 20 July 1917 admitted to No. 2 NZ General Hospital at Walton-on-Thames Hospital. Had problem in New Zealand, recurred after Messines. Ten days later, transferred to Convalescent Depot at Hornchurch. By mid-August, ears had remained dry; right drum had gone & hearing impaired; left ear drum impaired but hearing good. 29 October 1917 admitted to 3rd NZ General Hospital at Codford - tonsilitis. 19 December discharged to Convalescent Depot at Codford. On 12 June 1918 was admitted to 12th General Hospital in France - trench fever. 22 June transferred to 4th Convalescent Depot from 14th Convalescent Depot in France. September 1918 admitted to Hospital, sick. 6 February 1919 admitted to Hospital, sick.

Post-war Occupations

Farm labourer; labourer


Date 12 December 1968 Age 71 years
Place of Death Wakari Hospital, Dunedin, of 3 Blair Street, Dunedin
Memorial or Cemetery Andersons Bay Cemetery, Dunedin
Memorial Reference Block 70AS, Plot 17
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

George Albert Webster Foster, born on 25 June 1897 at Ruapuna, was the third son of George Foster and his second wife, Jane (Jean) née Webster. 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 Foster was the manager of Rollesby Station at Burke’s Pass for the late Captain Hayter. 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. 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.

G. A. W. Foster was listed with the Infantry of South Canterbury’s quota of the 17th Reinforcements which left Timaru on 31 May 1916 by the second north-going express. After being entertained at dinner in Stafford Tea Rooms by the lady members of the South Canterbury War Relief Society, the soldiers assembled at the Drill Hall where they were farewelled by the Mayor and others. The Ashburton members of the Seventeenth Reinforcements were farewelled from Ashburton before entraining on 31 May. The recruits assembled in the Drill Hall and partook of a sumptuous high tea. Brief addresses were delivered by the Rev. Father O’Donnell and the Mayor (Mr R. Galbraith), and cheers were given before they marched to the station, headed by the C.D.C. and Salvation Army Bands. One of those who went North to camp was G. A. W. Foster

George A. W. Foster enlisted with the 17th Reinforcements on 1 June 1916 at Trentham, when he was not 19 years old. He had registered for compulsory military training at Timaru. He had been previously rejected as unfit (33%) for the military forces. He named a friend (with an unusual name) as next-of-kin – Mrs Irgle, Ruapuna, Canterbury. Why? Perhaps Ingle? Perhaps his friend was his much older half-sister, Mrs Edith Argyle who was at Ruapuna in 1919. 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. A farm hand at Ruapuna, single and Presbyterian, he had joined the Canterbury Infantry Battalion. George had undergone his medical examination at Timaru on 26 April 1916. He was 5 feet 6½ inches tall, weighed 160 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 34½-37 inches. His complexion was fair, his eyes grey and his hair brown. His sight, hearing and colour vision were all good, his limbs and chest well formed, and his heart and lungs normal. He was free of diseases, slight defects and fits, and had been vaccinated. So, he was in good bodily and mental health. He did bear the scars of operations for hydatids of liver and removal of appendix.

While George was in camp, his brother Robert was been wounded in France and another brother Walter was ill in London. Admitted to hospital at Trentham on 9 July 1916 with measles, he was discharged 14 days later. He was inoculated before embarking and vaccinated on the transport. Private G. A. W. Foster embarked with the 17th Reinforcements, leaving by the “Devon” on 25 September 1916, for Devonport, England, where he disembarked on 21 November. The next day he was posted to the 1st Canterbury Company at Sling. He proceeded overseas for France on 8 or 9 December 1916, was attached to Strength and joined the 2nd Battalion in the Field on 17 January 1917. On 28 January, however, he was sent to hospital, sick, and was admitted to No. 3 NZ Field Ambulance, and to the NZ Division Rest Station a few days later. He was discharged to the Reinforcements Camp on 10 February, only to be admitted to No. 1 NZ Field Ambulance with influenza on 13 February. Discharged to Duty and having re-joined his Unit, he was again sent to Hospital, sick, on 18 March. He was admitted, sick, to the Northumbrian Casualty Clearing Station at Rouen, France on 20 March 1917. A week later he was discharged to Duty and was able to re-join his Unit in the Field. Private George Foster was, indeed, on service in France in May 1917 when his brother Walter was to be invalided home.

On 9 July 1917, he was yet again sent to Hospital, sick, and was admitted, firstly, to No. 1 NZ Field Ambulance, then to No. 2 Australian Casualty Clearing Station and to No. 2 Australian General Hospital at Wimereux on 11 July. From 10 to 14 July 1917, he was in hospital in France with slight N.Y.D. (not yet diagnosed). It was subsequently diagnosed as ruptured membrane tymphonia. Severe otitis media caused his embarkation from France for England per Hospital Ship St Patrick and admission to No. 2 NZ General Hospital at Walton-on-Thames Hospital on 20 July. He had had the problem in New Zealand and it recurred after Messines. Ten days later, he was transferred to the Convalescent Depot at Hornchurch. By mid-August, his ears had remained dry; the right drum had gone and hearing was impaired; left ear drum was impaired but the hearing was good. Leaving Hornchurch on 25 August, he went on leave in the UK and was to report at Codford on 10 September 1917. But, on 29 October 1917, he was admitted to the 3rd NZ General Hospital at Codford with tonsilitis. No Diphtheria Bacilli was present but Pneumococcus and Catarrhalis were present in fairly large numbers. It was 19 December when he was discharged to the Convalescent Depot at Codford.

Marching into Sling from Codford on 29 January 1918, he was taken on Strength and proceeded overseas again two weeks later. On 27 March 1918 he was posted to the New Zealand Entrenching Battalion. On 12 June 1918, he was admitted to the 12th General Hospital in France, suffering from trench fever. Two days later he was transferred to Trouville. He was transferred to the 4th Convalescent Depot from the 14th Convalescent Depot in France on 22 June 1918. He was discharged to Base Depot on 26 June and joined his Battalion in the Field on 9 August. September brought another admission to Hospital, sick. He was able to re-join his Battalion from the Field Ambulance on 6 September 1918, and a month on he was detached to the N.Z.E.F. Tank Corps for nine days, followed immediately by a detachment to the Divisional Horse Clipping Depot for five days.

Interspersed with the hospital stays were a few misdemeanours. For absence without leave on 10 October 1917, he forfeited 5 days pay. He was again absent without leave from 30 December 1918. When he was granted sick leave in the UK from 16 December to 30 December, he failed to return on the expiration of leave and remained absent till he was repatriated at Victoria Station at 5.30 on 8 January 1919. This time he forfeited 9 days pay and was awarded 28 days Field Punishment. Absence without leave was again his downfall – from 10 March 1919 till he was apprehended on 16 March. He was admonished and forfeited 6 days pay. He was debited with the sum of 2 shillings being fee due to Clerk of Court Edinburgh for descriptive return in connection with his arrest as an absentee, 17 March 1919.

Then too, there was a high point. George Albert Webster Foster was awarded the Military Medal, on 15 November 1918, for Acts of Gallantry in the Field. G. A. W. Foster went on leave to the UK on 12 December 1918 before rejoining his Battalion on 12 January 1919. He was admitted to Hospital, sick, on 6 February 1919. As of 11 February 1919, he was back in the UK. On preparing to leave the service, Private George A. W. Foster was medically examined at Sling on 27 March 1919. His physique was good and his respiratory, nervous and digestive systems were all normal, as were his nutrition and heart. He took his discharge on 24 April 1919 in England. All his service was in Western Europe, for which he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His address following discharge was 52 Kinnaird Street, Arbroath, Scotland. It would seem that George already knew Annie Peter Smith, of Arbroath. George Albert Webster Foster, M.M. (late of 17th Reinforcements), third son of George Foster, Butler Street, Timaru (late of Ruapuna) and Annie Peter Smith, second daughter of Archibald Smith, 52 Kinnaird Street, Arbroath, Scotland, married on 9 October 1919 at St Vigeans Manse, Arbroath, Scotland. George and Annie resided in Scotland for some years, their first five children being born there. By May 1927 they were in New Zealand, the three eldest children attending Arundel School. In April 1928, these three children received Kindergarten prizes at the Arundel Sunday School picnic. Later in the year, young Charles was awarded first place for “three buttons (sewn on, children under 10)” at the Peel Forest Horticultural Society show; and shortly after Master C. Foster recited “The Pirates” at a concert in aid of the Arundel School funds. Another child was born at Geraldine in 1928. George’s parents and his brother Walter were also at Arundel. In March 1929, the young family moved to the Waimate district, where three more children were born. There he worked as a farm labourer. While at Waimate, their third child and eldest daughter, Edith Margaret Foster, died at the Public Hospital on 21 August 1930, aged 7½ years. She was buried in the Waimate Cemetery. About 1942 they made their home in Dunedin, living for many years in Canongate. They were residing at 122 Canongate in October 1944 when they celebrated their Silver Wedding anniversary. By the age of 60, George was recorded as a war pensioner.

George Albert Webster Foster died on 12 December 1968 at Wakari Hospital, Dunedin, aged 71 years, and was buried in the RSA section of Andersons Bay Cemetery, Dunedin, his grave marked by a services stone. He was survived by all five sons and three of his four daughters.

Two older brothers of George also served in World War One – Robert James Foster (6/2387) was still in France when George was awarded the Military Medal in November 1918, while Walter Edward Foster had returned home, invalided, in 1917. Two sons of George and Annie served in World War Two – Archibald Smith Foster and George Webster Foster, both of whom were born in Scotland. Nephews known to have served in World War Two were Thomas Henry George Sadler, Walter Douglas Foster (Doug), George Ernest Allan. George Foster, senior, died 5 July 1931 at his son’s (Walter) residence 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 [11 March 2023]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Collections Record No. 0041558) [14 March 2023]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Collections Record No. 0130985) [14 March 2023]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [22 May 2016]; Timaru Herald, 26 November 1900, 7 & 12 September 1914, 31 May 1916, 12 July 1916, 13 December 1919, 27 September 1928, 8 October 1928, 23 August 1930, 6 July 1931, 13 August 1931, Ashburton Guardian, 25 August 1910, 19 June 1915, 19 & 22 May 1916, 1 June 1916, 19 February 1917, 13 March 1917, 14 May 1917, 9 & 17 January 1919, Press, 1 June 1916, 11 July 1916, 15 July 1931, 26 March 1955, Southland Times, 1 August 1917, Lyttelton Times, 9 January 1919, Star, 17 January 1919, Temuka Leader, 26 April 1928, Otago Daily Times, 9 October 1944 (Papers Past) [21, 22 & 23 May 2016; 11, 17 & 31 March 2023; 02, 04, 05 & 06 April 2023]; Andersons Bay Cemetery, Dunedin, headstone image & burial record (Dunedin City Council) [11 March 2023]; Andersons Bay Cemetery headstone transcription (South Canterbury Branch NZSG cemetery records) [11 March 2023]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [24 May 2016; 02 April 2023]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, South Canterbury Genealogy Society

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