Robert Thomas Foster was born in Buckhurst Hill in 1893. He was son of Robert John, a builder’s labourer, and Esther Jane Foster. In 1901, the family was living at 11 Jersey Terrace, Prospect Road, Woodford Green. By 1911, Robert and his family lived at 1 Nodel Cottage, Glebe Avenue, Woodford Green, and Robert was working as a farm labourer.
Robert enlisted in Stratford before the war with the 1st South, Staffordshire Regiment. He was with his regiment in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, when war broke out, and returned to Southampton on 19th September 1914 to join 22 Brigade in the 7th Division. The regiment arrived at Zeebrugge, Belgium on 6th October 1914 to assist in the defence of Antwerp, Belgium, but they arrived too late to prevent the fall of the city. The battalion took up defensive positions at important bridges and junctions to aid in the retreat of the Belgian army.
His medal entitlement records appear to show that Robert initially served with 7 (Service) Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment, and disembarked in Europe during 20th October 1914, thereafter serving with 1 South Staffordshire Regiment. He qualified for the 1914 Star and “Mons Clasp.” But to be deployed that quickly, Robert must have had existing military experience, and so did not undertake full basic training after war began. His service number appears to have been issued during 1912/13, so he is likely to have been a pre war regular soldier with 1 South Staffordshires.
Robert was one of three men from the regiment to be ‘Killed in Action’ on 6th November 1914. His body was not recovered.
Research by Adrian Lee, Local Historian
Commonwealth War Graves Commission