Private William Foster

This is part of a series of essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Connecticut.

The grave of William Foster
The grave of William Foster

William Foster was an Englishman and naturalised United States citizen, who had emigrated to the United States with his family before the war. Like many British men he returned home to enlist.

He was born on 10 June 1881 in Bolton, Lancashire, the second of the five children, and only son, of Robert and Mary Foster.[1] His father worked as a labourer in a foundry and the children worked in one of Bolton’s mills.

He arrived in the United States on 21 September 1906 and became a citizen on 7 June 1917. Three months after his arrival he was joined by his father and his sisters Alice and Mary, who all arrived on 16 January 1907 (his mother also arrived in the United States that year but her arrival date cannot be confirmed). The family settled in New Britain, Connecticut. William Foster’s father worked in an iron foundry and William worked as a labourer in a buckle shop and then as a chauffeur. His father died in 1915.

On 31 October 1917, he sailed from Boston via Halifax, Nova Scotia to the United Kingdom, where he enlisted into the Army Service Corps. He was allocated the number M/377880—the ‘M’ prefix indicates that he worked with mechanical transport. None of the available records give any indication as to where he served, but it was probably France and Flanders. After being demobilised, he returned to the United States from Liverpool on the liner and former troopship SS Orduna. He arrived on 29 June 1919 and went to live with his sister, Mary, her husband and their two wards in New Britain. He found work as a clerk in a wholesale warehouse.

Sometime in the next year, William Foster fell ill with tuberculosis. He died at home on East Street, New Britain on 10 July 1920 and was buried in Fairview Cemetery. Also buried there is his father. William Foster’s grave is in Section 21, Lot 203, on the north-eastern side of the section.

Bolton Roll of Honour, 1914-1918, Private William Foster
Bolton Roll of Honour, 1914-1918, Private William Foster

Private William Foster is commemorated in the Bolton County Borough Roll of Honour 1914-1918—a beautiful illuminated manuscript displayed in the Town Hall. For his service in a theatre of operations he was awarded the British War Medal 1914-20 and Victory Medal.

1. (Back) Robert Foster (18 August 1859-26 May 1915) married Mary Dacey (some records use the spelling ‘Dacy’) (1854-NK) in Bolton in the first quarter of 1879: Margaret Ellen (later Roscoe) (1880-1948); Julia (1883-NK); Alice Veronica (later Steeves) (5 June 1887-7 September 1969); and Mary Theresa (later Wright) (11 September 1889-31 October 1980).

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