Private Alfred Foster



Alfred Foster was born (as Francis Albert Foster) on 2 March 1897 at Tullyquin, Fivemiletown, County Tyrone, the last of eleven children of farmer James Foster and his wife Elizabeth (Bessie) (née Wilson). At the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Tullyquin with his parents and three of his nine surviving siblings.

Foster enlisted in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron on 6 November 1914 (No. UD/151). On 6 October 1915 he embarked for France with his squadron, which was then serving as divisional cavalry to the 36th (Ulster) Division.

In June 1916 the Inniskilling squadron joined with C and F Squadrons of the North Irish Horse to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps until September 1917, when the regiment was disbanded and its men were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Most, including Foster, were transferred on 20 September and posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt soon after. Foster was issued regimental number 41509.

He probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917, and perhaps also during the retreat from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918.

Foster was severely wounded, in the legs and face, possibly on 22 July 1918 when the 9th (NIH) Battalion conducted a raid on the German line at Shoddy Farm near Meulehouck on the Ypres front.

Evacuated to the UK, he was discharged on 11 October 1918, being 'no longer physically fit for war service' (paragraph 392 (xvi), King's Regulations). Being totally blind, he was awarded a full military pension.

On 29 May 1924 Foster married Ellen Jane Keys in the Aughentaine Presbyterian Church. At the time he was living at Prolisk, Clogher, and working as a farmer.

On 8 August 1934, as reported in the Belfast Telegraph, he faced the Fivemiletown Petty Sessions:

... charged with having a rifle in his possession without a certificate. Defendant said the weapon, which was of an old type, belonged to a relative who had gone to America. Sergeant Vaughan said it was a case of neglect more than anything else. Defendant was allowed off on payment of costs and the rifle was ordered to be forfeited.

Following the death of his wife in 1939, Foster married widow Matilda McKeown (née Fleming) in the Clogher Cathedral on 12 July 1940.

In 1957 their home was destroyed in a fire. The Northern Whig of 2 November reported that:

Alfred Foster, Tattymoyle, Trillick, County Tyrone, a middle-aged blind man, with his wife and daughter, aged 16, were rendered homeless when a fire completely gutted their two-storey slated dwelling house. None of the furniture was saved although Omagh Fire Brigade made a prompt turnout. The family was not at home when the fire broke out and it was seen by a neighbour who summoned the brigade. The family is being accommodated by neighbours.

Foster died in the York City Hospital on 22 October 1976. He was buried in the Aughentaine Presbyterian Church burying ground.


Image sourced from Public Member Trees - contributor 'RSM20'.


This page last updated 11 April 2023.