Rank: Private
Service Number: 160426.
Regiment: 31st Bn. Canadian Infantry Killed In Action Thursday 2nd November 1916 Age 30County Memorial Congleton
Grave\Panel Ref: II.B.8.

Son of Mr. George Foster and Mrs. Mary Ann Foster, of Smithy House, Hulme Walfield, Congleton, Cheshire, 18,Henrietta Street, Congleton, Cheshire, and 30, Rood Hill, Congleton, Cheshire. He had one sister, Mary Alice Foster, along with five brothers, Edward, (Edwin) William, David, John William and George Foster. In 1901 he resided with a Mr. Ossie Worth, a Farmer at Grove House Farm, Somerford Booths, Hulme Walfield, where he was employed when a 14-year-old as a Herdsman on the Farm. He married Maud Ethel Foster (nee Bailey) at St Clément’s Church, Longsight, Lancashire in December 1904 and he had three children Phyllis, Arthur and May Foster living at 23, Saville Street, Macclesfield, Cheshire. He was then employed as a Driver in a Stone Quarry. In 1912, he emigrated to Canada where he resided at 4 Calgary Road, Alberta. He was employed for the greater part of the time at the Western Canada Flour Mills as a Teamster. One day he went to pick up his pay cheque and enlisted in the Army to fight for England. While in the service, his mother Mary, near death with Dropsy requested him to return home. He received leave and went home to his mother. Because she was near to death, he stayed for an additional two days. Upon his return, because of being late, he was sent to the front line. On the 4th of October 1915, he enlisted into the 82nd Battalion, of the Canadian Infantry, a unit under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Lowry shortly after it's authorization and trained with the regiment in Calgary prior to their departure overseas. In England, he was drafted into another Canadian Battalion namely the 31st, who were attached to the 2nd Canadian Division and embarked for France in May 1916.

On the 1st of November, the Battalion was situated at Souchez, where the weather was cloudy but fine, it was a quiet day on the front except for the occasional minenwerfers. About 16:30 hours a crater was bombarded with Stokes mortars with very little resistance. The 2nd of November began with the weather being fine but cold, there had been no casualties during the night. Orders were received from the Brigade stating that the Battalion would be relieved by the 28th Battalion and would go into support at Noulette Wood. The War Diary states that on the 2nd of November, only one casualty was reported as wounded. On the 3rd of November, guards were provided for Noulette Wood and advance parties sent out. The relief commenced at 18:00 hours and was completed by 21:30 hours. Guards entailing 56 men were placed at various posts in the vicinity of Noulette Wood. It is this at point that the Battalion War Diary states that Private Joseph Foster died of wounds inflicted by a mortar shell on the previous day. He is buried at the cemetery at Bois de Noulette, Pas de Calais.

Extract from the Congleton Chronicle 1917. 

As briefly announced in our last impression yet another Congleton soldier, Private Joseph Foster, of the Canadian Forces, has given his life in the service of his King and Country. Private Joseph Foster, of the 31st, Canadian Force, died of wounds on the 2nd of November 1916. He was 30 years of age and went to Canada in 1912, arriving in France with the Canadian Forces in May 1916. He joined the Army, enlisting in the 3rd Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment, when 15 years of age and went through the South African War. His brother Private Edward (Edwin) Foster, was killed on the 7th of October 1916 and his brother Private George Foster was killed on the 7th of September 1917. Another brother is still serving with the colours. It will be remembered by those who have followed the fluctuating fortunes of our brave lads at the front that about the time Private Foster laid down his life outrageous weather conditions prevailed, and poor visibility seriously interfered with the work of our artillery. Incessant rain transformed the mass of hastily dug trenches for which they were fighting into channels of deep mud, while the approaches to the trenches and the country roads, broken by countless shell craters that crossed the deep stretch of ground previously won, rapidly becomes almost impossible, making the supply of food, stores and ammunition a serious problem. Under such conditions it is impossible to describe what our troops went through, how can the lay mind form the faintest conception. We now know that the part played by the unit to which Private Foster belonged was a glorious one, but it is not yet permissible to give details. These details will be set forth in their proper sequence when the history of the war comes to be written, by some historian of passionate cadences. This much we can say, although the prevailing conditions multiplied the difficulties of attack to such an extent that it was found impossible to exploit the situation with the rapidity necessary to enable us to reap the full benefits of the advantages we had gained, our troops earned the approbation of the man at the helm. They nobly upheld the traditions of the Anglo-Saxon race, and no finer tribute could be paid them.

The first intimation that Private Foster had been killed was contained in a letter received by Mrs. Foster from the Rector of Ogden, Calgary, Canada, who spoke highly of the dead soldier, and the manner in which he had met his death. Private Foster leaves a wife and three young children out in Canada.

Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank John and Christopher Pullen for this information on Joseph.