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18922 Pte Henry Charles Foster 6th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry KIA 26th August 1916


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Hello,

 

This is my first post and I'm very new to searching for details of my ancestors. Henry foster was my great uncle, brother to my grandad's mother. 

 

His service number was 18922 and he is buried in Heilly Station cemetery. 

 

My real hope is to find a unit photograph, as I have no known living relative to ask about his service or any surviving photographs. Any details about him or movements of the 6th SLI on and around this date would be appreciated. The best I can see at the moment is that they had just relieved the South Africans at Delville Wood, but more than that I have no idea.

 

Interestingly, he was born and raised in London, born on the 18th April 1896 in Hackney, though at some point prior to his 3rd birthday moved to Kilburn. The 1911 census shows him aged 15, living with his family at 98 Canterbury Road and his occupation listed as errand boy for a grocer. So how he came to be in the 6th SLI is a mystery.

 

Any help, or advice as to how I can go about finding out more about him would be greatly appreciated.

 

Many thanks

Sean

 

 

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Welcome to the forum and good luck with your search.

 

If you have access to commercial sites there are 7 records on Ancestry

Henry Charles Foster - Ancestry.com

 

3 on Find My Past

Search Results for Military, armed forces & conflict | findmypast.co.uk

 

and 2 on Forces War Records

Record Details for Henry Charles Foster (Somerset Light Infantry) (forces-war-records.co.uk)

 

Unfortunately no service papers appear to survive but the above include Soldier's Effects, Pension Cards and Medal Records.

 

And of course in the banner at the top of the page  The Long, Long Trail will give the unit history in an easy to digest format.

 

Good luck and keep asking as the 'real' experts-I don't count myself-will come along to help

 

George

 

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His units war diary may be available free of charge from Ancestry. This would give you the day to day movements though you would of course need to confirm he was with them from the outset and not a later transfer. Enjoy your research.

 

Simon

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Sean,

Welcome to GWF.

 

Your best chance of finding a photo of him is to try local newspapers as pre-deployment article/photo(s), even printing of a letter(s) from the front and an obituary(ies) could feature.

 

You might like to know, from pension record cards at WFA/Fold3, that: He died of: Wounds rec'd in action

 

Slightly off track but from this source this may be of further interest:

Millicent, his widow, got a pension of 15/- pw from 12.3.17 increasing to 18/9 pw from 4.4.17.

Widow remarried on 2.1.18. Mr. H. Edwards (Civilian)

Remarriage gratuity due was £35.1.3 of which 3/9 was paid to Mrs Edwards. £34.17.6 being invested in W.S.C [War Savings Certificates].  The pension for the child is being paid to Mrs M. Edwards

Child: Henry Charles Arthur, born 22.3.16

Her address was given as: 11 Camden St., Plymouth

No Separation Allowance was originally recorded for a child but the claim was N/N [Noted for Novel - special treatment/calculation] and he seems included later [would have been until his 16th birthday in 1932]

Paying via WSC was not that uncommon and was seen as a way of keeping the majority of the Marriage Gratuity out of the hands of the new husband [otherwise, sadly some widows got ripped off for their gratuity] and for getting a decent/better rate of interest as income for the widow [and for recycling some government money back into the system for the war effort one suspects].

 

Good luck with your quest.

:-) M

 

 

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Welcome to the Forum,

 

On the 26th August 1916 the regiment was moving in to Bernafay Wood (albeit with one company in Delville Wood) but he died of wounds so it is entirely possible he was wounded on a previous day. Admittedly their last big engagement was on the 18th/19th of that month and if he was one of the many, many wounded at that point then I would have thought he would have been evacuated to a hospital further behind the lines. Looking further they then seem to have had a steady trickle of deaths in the days that follow the 18th/19th and possibly I would look at the battalion war diary for those days (free from the National Archive - though you do need to register). Admittedly as an 'other rank' he is most unlikely to be named but you may get a better idea of what the battalion was doing.

 

Hope that helps,

 

P

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Hi Sean

 

Potentially a clue as to why Henry served with the Somerset Light Infantry. 

 

In the 3rd quarter of 1915, a Henry C Foster married Millicent Knapman in Plymouth. Devon. There are only two other Henry Foster/Millicent civil marriages, in 1941 and 1942 respectively. There are no reported parish weddings that I can find, between a Henry Foster/Millicent, between 1910 and 1920.

 

Millicent is his widow and sole legatee on his effect's statement, there may be a soldier's will, but I can't find it. She subsequently re-married as Edwards.

 

Millicent's birth  was registered in the 3rd quarter 1896 at Totnes, Devon , with the name of Millie (mother's maiden name Adams). The 1901 census has her living with her Uncle in Dartmouth. I can't find her on the 1911 census, but the 1939 Register has her living with her husband William H Edwards and presumably her father, Philip Knapman, in rather restricted circumstances, in Plymouth. Philip Knapman is as elusive on the 1911 census as his daughter.

 

 If I was pressed for an opinion, looks like the young Henry Charles left the bright lights for a more rural setting and found love. The Dorsets and Devons were smaller regiments than the SLI, so where needs must, that's where he went, but still 'local' to his new family.

 

Hope this helps

 

Kind Regards

 

Derek

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Henry's war gratuity payment of £5 and a look at similar SLI numbers would suggest an enlistment date from 27th April 1915 to 15th May 1915. The date of entry on the medal rolls (8th September 1915) would suggest he was sent out in a draft of reinforcements - the battalion landed at Boulogne on 21st May 1915. He had possibly joined at the regimental depot passing through 3rd Bn before being posted to 6th Bn overseas.

I note that the grave registration report records his date of death as 25th August 1916 - this may well be a contemporary typo as it contradicts other available sources although some do record him KiA when it appears he did indeed die from his wounds. Heilly Station Cemetery is over 20km from the known location of the battalion on 26th August - reserve trench 300 yards in front of Bernafay Wood. I think there is some suggestion that Henry may have been a casualty of the attack at Delville Wood on 18th and 19th. The battalion reported over 220 men wounded and missing - left wounded and missing on the battlefield for a few days before being discovered and sent down the medical chain where he would succumb to his wounds at Heilly Station.

In the December 1915 war diary appendages can be found several nominal rolls of each company - I haven't looked for Henry amongst the names which can be found here if you subscribe to ancestry and the August 1916 war diary can be found here. Both these diaries are also available free to download from the National Archives here once a free registration has been submitted.

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As Jay has said, the probability is that he died of wounds rather than KiA.  Heilly was the location of 36 and 38 Casualty Clearing Stations at that time (and 2/2 London I believe).  There are  several threads about those CCS on the forum - you can do a search for them.

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  • spof changed the title to 18922 Pte Henry Charles Foster 6th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry KIA 26th August 1916

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