FOSTER, Howard Carpenter
(Service number 86102)

First Rank Private Last Rank Private


Date 20 June 1888 Place of Birth Timaru

Enlistment Information

Date 7 May 1918 Age 29 years 9 months
Address at Enlistment C/o Herbt Haynes & Coy, Invercargill
Occupation Draper
Previous Military Experience High School Cadets - discharged. Never in a NZ Expeditionary Force Camp.
Marital Status Married. One child.
Next of Kin Mrs Mabel F. FOSTER (wife), 248 Crinan Street, Invercargill
Religion Church of England
Medical Information Height 5 ft 10 ins. Weight 161 lbs. Chest measurement 36-39 inches. Complexion fair. Eyes blue. Hair light brown. Sight – both eyes 6/6/. Hearing & colour vision normal. Limbs & chest well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Heart & lungs normal. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. No fits. No notification for consumption. Never discharged from H.M. Service. Absent from work for 1 week – sprained ankle 16 years ago. Classified A.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

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

Military Awards

Service Medals
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 11 October 1918 Reason Leave in lieu of Discharge.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

2 October 1918 at Featherston - “Swelling of left ankle especially in region of external malleolus. Varicosity of Veins in same region.” Two weeks in hospital at Camp.

Post-war Occupations



Date 15 December 1969 Age 81 years
Place of Death Palmerston North Public Hospital
Memorial or Cemetery Kelvin Grove Crematorium, Palmerston North
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Howard Chapman Foster was born on 20 June 1888 at Timaru, the fifth son of Robert Francis and Kitty Margaret (née Carpenter) Foster. Robert Foster, born in Deal, Kent, England, in 1852, came out to New Zealand by the “Regina” with his parents and four siblings, as a seven-year-old. Landing at Lyttelton, the family came to Timaru in 1860, where seven more children were born, one dying in infancy. Robert and London-born Kitty married in 1878 at St Paul’s Church, Dunedin, and were to have six sons and two daughters born at Timaru, one of the first-born twin sons dying at two days. Mr Foster was keenly interested in music and was also a keen sportsman, fostering these talents in his family.

After many years associated with Timaru and Waimataitai, Mr Robert Foster’s family left to join him at Hawera in mid-October 1893. He was pleased with his experience there so far and said that Hawera’s weekly market was busier than the Saturday one at Timaru. It was in September 1893 that Mr R. Foster made his singing debut before a Hawera audience, scoring a decided success. He became well involved in the musical (notably the Hawera Musical Society and Hawera Choral Society), school, church (Presbyterian), sport and civic scenes at Hawera. The Hawera & Normanby Star carried the following item on 1 May 1894 – ‘The committee of the Waimataitai school, Timaru, in their report to the householders had the following kindly references to Mr Robt. Foster, now of Hawera: — “The late Secretary — We have to record the great loss the district has experienced from Mr Robt. Foster’s departure for Hawera. He had been connected with the school for many years, acting as honorary secretary to your committee, and as such had done good work. He had unselfishly given up a great deal of time and applied very considerable capacity to the furtherance of scholastic matters in his district. Alike as a committeeman, secretary, performer or organiser of concerts for school purposes he had always displayed such energy and knowledge that bis loss will be deeply felt and deplored.”’ It was in January 1897 that Mr Foster first determined to dispose of his business. In March 1898, an invitation was extended to the people of Hawera and district to co-operate in the matter of giving a complimentary subscription concert to Mr Robt. Foster at the Opera House. “Mr Foster, we understand, is leaving Hawera immediately for the South Island, and it is felt that some recognition should be given of his valuable services to the public in many capacities during his residence in Hawera. As a citizen Mr Foster has been, to put it in a word, a "brick," for, especially in musical matters, he has never spared himself in the slightest when his able services have been desired. Not only in Hawera has he lived a life of usefulness and activity, but he can also look back on a long vista of dreary drives to country concerts where his talent, as in Hawera, has always been in great demand. The country people will no doubt show their appreciation by attending on Friday evening, and combine with the Hawera people in giving him the send-off he undoubtedly deserves. A keen sport himself, Mr Foster has also taken a deep interest in athletics, being a prominent member of the Caledonian Society and a strong supporter of cricket and football. It is no exaggeration to say that no one man has devoted so much of his ability to the enjoyment of others as Mr Foster during the four or five years he has been in Hawera, and therefore there should be few citizens who will not make Friday evening's concert an opportunity for showing their appreciation in a practical manner.” And so, a farewell concert was given to Mr Foster on 18 March, Mr Foster himself and his two oldest sons (Frank and Arnold) taking part. The Mayor presented him with a cheque as a slight token of the esteem in which he was held by the Hawera residents, referring “to Mr Foster’s good citizenship ever since he came to Hawera, mentioning particularly the deep interest he had always taken in music, cricket and athletics. Mr Foster was one of that class, he said, they could ill afford to lose and he hoped that wherever he might go he would be prosperous. Apart from Mr Foster himself they had to tender their best thanks to Mrs Foster and family who had always been ready to help in matters of a social nature for the good of the public. (Applause.) He was quite satisfied that one and all wished them bon voyage and health and prosperity wherever they went. Mr Foster heartily thanked the public for their kindness. In regard to what little he might have done in musical matters, he had done without any idea of reward, but simply from the pleasure he derived from it. Everyone had his fad, and his went in a musical groove.”

Howard started his schooling at Waimataitai School, Timaru, transferring after two months to Hawera when his father took up a position with the Hawera and West Coast Drapery Company. At Hawera School he passed the Standard One school examination in 1896. At both Waimataitai and Hawera schools Mr Foster presented prizes. When the family moved from Hawera to Dunedin in March 1898, Howard first attended George Street School, then transferred to North East Valley School after six weeks and to Arthur Street School a year later. Both Privates S. Foster and H. Foster received prizes in Drill at the Boys’ High School in 1902. Howard may well have been in the High Street Gymnasium team which competed in the Otago Association competitions in September 1905. Perhaps too, he played cricket in Dunedin, for the Carisbrook Club. Carisbrook was possessed of such talent that a Carisbrook quartet party was able to render two items at a special service for cricketers in March 1909. One of that party was H. Foster, W. Foster being the accompanist – brother Willie? He played regularly and was found instructing the junior players. As of 1910 when the family was living in Dunedin, Howard was participating in the Dunedin Competitions. He finished just shy of third place in the Bass Solo (amateurs) and, recalled in the Sacred Solo (bass), he did finish third.

Howard Carpenter Foster married Mabel Florence Cockerill on 19 November 1913 at Dunedin. The Christchurch Competitions of 1915 saw Howard C. Foster (St Albans, but formerly of Dunedin) competing in several events. First, it was the Baritone of Bass Solo (amateurs), his selection being “King Charles”, the assessment being that he gave a good vigorous reading and made a good impression, though the song manifestly did not suit him. He did, however, get a recall, and was awarded first place – “Mr Foster’s work was quite one of the best pieces of the morning.” A few days later, he was place third with “An Old English Song” in the English Ballad (gentlemen, open). Mr H. C. Foster sang well, but nasal resonance spoilt the effect. He was recalled in the Baritone Solo (“Pagan”). Mr H. C. Foster had a good idea of the song, but failed to work up the last few bars. He was recalled and was awarded second place. One of three competitors recalled from 11 in the Irish Song (gentlemen amateurs), he finished in second place with “Mother Machree”. At a boy scouts’ concert in September 1915, he was completely successful in his singing of three numbers. He also gave items – “Drake Goes West” and “Up from Somerset” - at the Woolston Brass Band’s programme on 13 October 1915.

His first performance in Invercargill came with the opening of the Invercargill Orchestral Society’s 1916 season in May. “Mr Howard Foster was heard to advantage on no fewer than five occasions, he having to submit to three encores. Mr Foster’s voice is of splendid quality, and is one of which an audience never tires, and last evening he seemed to improve as he went along, . . . . . . .” Mr Foster was a recent arrival “who has an excellent voice and knows how to use it.” The annual celebration of the Loyal Orange Institution, held in Invercargill on 12 July 1916, took the form this year of a grand patriotic concert, which was held in the Municipal Theatre, the proceeds being devoted to the Red Cross and Navy Relief Funds. The Theatre was crowded in every part. Mr Howard C. Foster contributed songs – “Drake Goes West”, “Homeland”, and several encore numbers. And at the Travellers’ Troubadours’ concert, held in the Municipal Theatre on 2 August 1916 in aid of the funds of the Soldiers’ Club, he again contributed to the programme (song “Master of My Fate”). Howard and Mabel welcomed their first child at Invercargill – Howard Francis Foster, known as Frank, was born on 16 June 1916.

Howard was also an honorary instructor in physical culture with the Y.M.C.A. in Invercargill. On the evening of 3 October 1916, about 30 boys whom he had initiated into the Swedish drill and apparatus work gave a gymnastic display. In five months he had brought them “to a very fair state of efficiency”. In the 41st annual report of the Association, presented in May 1917, he was heartily congratulated on the high degree of efficiency attained in the senior and junior boys’ classes. In December 1916, Howard Foster was the soloist at the Don Street Methodist Church Sunday service. All the while, “in the forefront of Southland singers”, he continued to entertain and assist at many and varied functions. The Orange Lodge celebrations on 12 July 1917 saw him oblige. Anzac Day 1918 he gave solos at the Commemoration Service of the landing. In June, he contributed the musical part of the programme at a welcome home social.

Then, in July 1918, the almost inevitable happened. In April, Howard Carpenter Foster, draper, 248 Crinan Street, Invercargill, was called up. At the close of a display by the Y.M.C.A. gymnasts, the president of the Association “spoke in high terms of Mr Howard Foster, the instructor, who is leaving shortly for the front.” Mr Foster was presented with a handsome silver teapot and stand, on behalf of the senior class, and a case of pipes, on behalf of the junior boys. Mr Foster suitably responded. On 12 August 1918, a fine body of men – 45th Reinforcements - left Invercargill for the north, where they were to undergo the training which would make of them soldiers ready to do battle for the Empire. They marched from the Drill Hall to the station headed by the band of the 8th Regiment. They were addressed by his Worship the Mayor. The men from this far-flung portion of the Empire, he said, were going forward to fight for right against might, for democracy against autocracy, for liberty against oppression. He wished them good luck and God-speed, expressing the hope that their services would not be required except to help to carry the flag of victory into Berlin. The band then played the “Marseillaise” and “ God Save the King,” and the men filed on to the station platform and entrained. Among those who went forward was Howard Carpenter Foster.

H. C. Foster, who was listed on the Reserve Roll in 1917, had first attested on 7 May 1918 at Invercargill, then re-attested on 20 September 1918 at Trentham. A draper, married and of Church of England affiliation, he gave his employer as his address and named his wife as next-of-kin – Mrs Mabel Florence Foster, 248 Crinan Street, Invercargill. He stood at 5 feet 10 inches, weighed 161 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 36-39 inches. His complexion was fair, his eyes blue, and his hair light brown. His sight, hearing, colour vision, heart and lungs were all normal, his limbs and chest well formed. Free from diseases, slight defects, fits and notification for consumption, he was in good bodily and mental health and was classified A. He had never been discharged from H.M. Service. He had been absent from work for 1 week, 16 years prior, with a sprained ankle. He had served with High School Cadets until discharged on leaving school but had never been in a NZ Expeditionary Force Camp.

Five weeks after entering camp, Private Foster was transferred to the 46th Reinforcements. Just three weeks later at Featherston, he was granted Leave in lieu of Discharge on medical grounds. “This man complains that about 16 years ago he sprained his left ankle; was laid up for a week. Since then ankle has been weak & has been sprained on one or two occasions.” The examination at Featherston on 2 October 1918 was recorded “Swelling of left ankle especially in region of external malleolus. Varicosity of Veins in same region.” Foster had injured his ankle in a fall at the gymnasium. He was unable to march, which situation would not improve. He had spent two weeks in hospital at Camp.

Come January 1919 and Mr Foster was back in Invercargill, entertaining. Despite the effect of the war call on its ranks, the Invercargill Orchestral Society was able to give an excellent concert on 2 May 1919. Mr Foster was in splendid voice. He “possesses the happy knowledge of knowing a song that suits him.” He had also resumed his successful work with the Y.M.C.A. boys’ gymnasium classes, and he contributed songs at the Y.M.C.A. annual meeting in 1920. A second son, Philip Chapman Foster, was born on 1 November 1919 at Invercargill, sadly to die on 31 December 1919. In early May 1920, Howard joined the Dunedin Philharmonic Society to sing with full orchestral accompaniment. At a concert at the Thomas Moore Festival (under the auspices of the Wellington Hibernian Society) in May 1921, that ‘universal favourite, “The Minstrel Boy,” the air of which is derived from a very remote Gaelic original, was selected by Mr Howard C. Foster for his programme number; his success was immediate, and as an encore he sang the equally popular “For the Green.”’

“Mr Howard Foster, who has for some time been employed on the staff of Lewis’ Ltd., intends severing his connection with that firm and has accepted a position in Wellington. Mr Foster was well known in musical circles, and will be missed from the concert platform.” [Southland Times. 24 April 1920.] Further well-received vocal performances followed in Wellington and further afield through 1921 to 1924, his light baritone voice pleasing immensely. He rendered vocal items at a public meeting at the Town Hall in November 1921 in connection with the National Memorial Military Chapel. He took a turn in the role of choir master at the first evening community sing in the Town Hall in June 1922 as well as giving solos. In Wellington, he was the assistant manager of D.I.C. In February 1924, he was a joint judge of the window displays of Masterton as part of Gala Week. After four years with the Wellington branch of the D.I.C., Mr Foster left in August 1924 to take over the management of Lewis’s Ltd, Invercargill (a firm in whose employ he had previously been). [See attachment for NZ Truth, 19 July 1924.] While at Wellington, they had welcomed a daughter, Mabel Valmai Foster (known as Valmai), on 22 August 1922. In 1923 when Howard was in Wellington, he was a member of the Grand Jury for criminal sessions on 8 May. In April 1928 at Timaru, again in the Supreme Court (the action having been removed from the Magistrate’s Court in Waimate), he brought action against another draper in respect of the sale of a business. The claim was discontinued, and the following week, Foster faced a counter-claim for wages due and had to pay £30.

‘A paragraph in the Free Lance, concerning Howard Foster, of Wellington, is of special interest to many Hawera people, for he was a Hawera boy whose father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Foster, lived here for years. Mr. Foster was the leader in those days, practically all the musical effort. The Free Lance says: Wellington loses its leading baritone singer in the departure of Mr. Howard C. Foster for Invercargill. In Wellington he made hosts of friends by his unfailing good nature, his spirit of camaraderie, and the zeal with which he carries out any task or duty that he undertakes. He has been a valued member of the Wellington Savage Club, and, as captain of the D.I.C. Cricket Club, he became prominent in the cricket circles of our commercial firms. But it is as a singer at our Choral Society and other concerts that he will be very greatly missed. He has a voice of exceptionally fine quality and a rare artistic sense. So competent a judge as Signor Ceasroni has said that if Mr. Foster could only go to Italy for a course of study he would develop into one of the finest baritone singers in the world. His last public appearance in Wellington was as baritone soloist in the Choral Society’s presentation of “Der Freischutz.”’ [Hawera Star, 16 August 1924.]

Indeed, back in Invercargill, he resumed his musical contributions – in aid of Presbyterian orphanages, and gymnastics involvement – judging the Boys’ High School’s competitions. “Painful injuries to the face and head were sustained by Mr Howard Foster, manager of Lewis’s, Ltd., yesterday morning [19 May 1925] as a result of a fall from the first to the ground floor of the firm’s building. Mr Foster was examining the reconstruction work in that portion of the building that was affected by the recent fire, when he slipped from the first floor and fell on a quantity of brickwork below. He was removed to his home, where he is progressing favourably, although suffering from bruises and shock.” In July 1926, he resigned his position in Invercargill to take over an old-established business in Waimate, and in March 1927 he joined his family in Waimate to assume control of his business there. Not only in Waimate did his singing contributions continued, but also in Timaru with the Orchestral Society and at a concert in aid of the Timaru unemployed, and several engagements in Dunedin with the Choral Society. In October 1929, he sang in a programme broadcast from the Olympia Hall, Waimate. He was engaged to sing at Station 4YA, Dunedin, in March 1935.

Mr and Mrs Foster moved back to Wellington in 1938. There, he assisted the Wellington Harmonic Society and took on more broadcasting engagements. The engagement was announced of Howard Francis Foster, the only son of Howard and Mabel, of Wellington, in June 1939. Howard, junior, went on to serve in World War Two. Howard, senior, and Mabel moved from Wellington to Palmerston North in about 1949. Howard Carpenter Foster died on 15 December 1969 at Palmerston North Hospital, aged 81 years, and was cremated at Kelvin Grove. He appointed his wife and son as trustees of his estate. He made provision for his wife and, should she predecease him, for his two children equally. Mabel died on 9 August 1985 at Palmerston North Hospital, aged 97 years and was also cremated.

Howard’s brother, Philip Stanley Foster, served in World War One, as did two cousins, Philip John Henry Foster and Fred Stephen Brittenden. Fred who was born at Timaru, lived most of his short life with his family in Victoria, Australia. He served with the Australian Forces and lost his life at the Somme in 1916. All four men were the descendants of a Deal boatman, Philip Jarvis Foster, who emigrated in 1858/1859 and settled in Timaru. Another brother, William Tremere Foster, who was a teacher, was called up in 1918, while two other cousins – Richard Philip Earl and Frederick Charles Earl – were listed on the Reserve Rolls. A much younger cousin, George David Foster, served in World War Two. Howard and family were living at Waimate when his father, Mr Robert Francis Foster, died in June 1936 at Christchurch. The two daughters and three of the sons (Howard and Stanley included) were living in New Zealand, while the two eldest sons had gone abroad to pursue their careers. He was a member of the Waimataitai School Committee. Their mother, Kitty, had died in March 1912 when the family lived in Dunedin.


NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Collections – Record number 0041575) [10 April 2023]; Lyttelton Times, 7 December 1859, 17 & 19 March 1915, Sun, 18, 22 & 23 March 1915, Timaru Herald, 13 May 1879, 2 May 1899, 27 April 1928, 25 June 1928, 23 July 1928, 27 March 1935, 16 June 1936, South Canterbury Times, 4 April 1885, 16 October 1893, 1 May 1899, Hawera & Normanby Star, 1 May 1894, 24 October 1896, 22 January 1897, 15 & 19 March 1898, Temuka Leader, 2 May 1899, Evening Star, 18 December 1902, 19 September 1905, Otago Witness, 31 March 1909, Otago Daily Times, 2, 3 & 7 September 1910, 24 April 1920, 1 May 1920, Star, 12 March 1915, 22 July 1926, Press, 13, 17, 20 & 23 March 1915, 27 September 1915, 13 October 1915, 15 June 1936, Southland Times, 12 & 13 May 1916, 13 July 1916, 1 & 3 August 1916, 3 October 1916, 23 April 1917, 8 & 11 May 1917, 13 July 1917, 5, 12 & 13 September 1917, 13 & 14 November 1917, 25 & 26 April 1918, 20 May 1918, 4 June 1918, 3 July 1918, 13 August 1918, 25 January 1919, 3 May 1919, 26 February 1920, 9 March 1920, 24 April 1920, 12 May 1920, 8 & 29 November 1924, 20 May 1925, 7 March 1927, Southern Cross, 9 December 1916, NZ Times, 30 May 1921, 30 August 1921, 17 October 1921, 14 December 1922, 1 May 1924, Dominion, 10 November 1921, 5 July 1924, Evening Post, 30 June 1922, 8 May 1923, 29 July 1939, Wairarapa Daily Times, 19 February 1924, NZ Truth, 19 July 1924, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 24 July 1926, 7 May 1928, 18 October 1929, Hawke’s Bay Tribune, 12 June 1936 (Papers Past) [26 May 2016; 10, 11 & 12 April 2023]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [25 May 2026; 11 April 2023]; School Admission records (South Canterbury & Dunedin branches NZSG) [10 April 2023]; Kelvin Grove, Palmerston North cremation records (Palmerston North City Council) [10 April 2023]; Probate record (Archives NZ Collections) [13 April 2023]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, South Canterbury Genealogy Society

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