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Francis Harold Foster (1887-1954)

South Shields born man served in France and Belgium with CEF

By 1901 Thomas Foster was a town surveyor and sanitary inspector in Houghton-le-Spring. He and his wife Ada, who had both been born in Lincolnshire, had moved to South Shields a few months after their marriage in 1886. Their first child Francis was born on 14th September 1887 in Shields, but was baptised in Lincoln in January 1888, in the same church in which his parents had been married.
By the time Francis was aged five the family had moved to Hoylake in Cheshire and had grown with the births of Beatrice and Thomas.

By 1901 Francis was a pupil at the local grammar school and went on to work for the local council as a draughtsman. In 1908 he became engaged to Ethel Mickle and two years later he emigrated to work in Canada.

The 1911 Canadian census shows that he was lodging in Winnipeg. Ethel joined him the following year and they married in Winnipeg on 12th June 1912. They set up home in Lipton Street, where their daughter was born in 1915.

On 20th December 1915 Francis enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force(CEF) in Winnipeg and became Private 718125 with the 107th (Timberwolves) Battalion. He underwent his basic training at Camp Hughes and was promoted to Corporal within three months.

In September 1916, just a few weeks after his wife and daughter had returned to England on the SS Missanabie, the Battalion left Camp Hughes by train, making for Halifax, Nova Scotia. From there they sailed on the SS Olympic to Liverpool and were posted to Witley Camp in Surrey.

On arrival at Witley the 107th was redesignated as a Pioneer Battalion and Francis was appointed as Acting Quarter Master Sergeant; a rank in which he was confirmed on arrival in France in February 1917. The Pioneer Battalions worked on the front line in conjunction with the Canadian Engineers (CE) and QMS Foster was one of those very rare individuals with front line service who, despite being involved in actions at all major battles, was never a casualty.

Granted leave to the UK in January 1918, his son Gordon was born in October at Hoylake. On the disbanding of the 107th Pioneer Battalion on reorganisation of the CE units he was posted to the 3rd Canadian Engineers Battalion and remained with them in France and Flanders. In February 1919 he returned to England in order to return to Canada with his wife and children, but in fact only he returned to Canada on board the SS Caronia in May, and he was demobilised in Winnipeg at the end of the month.

Francis remained in Winnipeg until January 1920 when he took a train to New York City and returned to England on board the SS Carminia, arriving in Liverpool in early February. After settling in Hoylake Francis worked as a building contractor and architect and he and Ethel had two more sons.

Francis Harold Foster died on 24th May 1954 and is buried in the family plot in Grange Cemetery, West Kirby, Merseyside.

Civil Parish: South Shields

Birth date: 14-Sep-1887

Death date: 24-May-1954

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: South Shields (birthplace)
William Street, Houghton-le-Spring (1891 census)
331 Pritchard Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (1911 Canadian census)
365 Lipton Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba (enlistment papers)
162 Meols Parade, Hoylake, Cheshire (1939 register)
10 Sandringham Avenue, Hoylake, Cheshire (obituary)

Religion: Church of England

Employment: Draughtsman (enlistment papers), Building contractor, Architect

Family: Parents: Thomas Foster, Ada Foster (nee Brown)
Siblings: Beatrice Ada Foster, Thomas Mark Foster
Wife: Ethel Foster (nee Mickle)
Children: Kathleen Ada Foster, Brian Mickle Foster, Gordon Harold Foster, Ian Reed Foster

Military service:

107th Battalion CEF
3rd Battalion Canadian Engineers

Medal(s): British War Medal
Victory Medal

Gender: Male

Contributed by Jean Longstaff, Durham | Jim Busby, Canada

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