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Ernest Harold Foster

Local History

Page updated - 17 March 2009

Roll of Honour - Gt. Cornard


Private Ernest Harold Foster


1124  11th Battalion Australian Infantry AIF


Ernest Foster was born in Old Hill, Staffordshire around 1893.  He was the second son of George Ernest and Enzie Foster.  His father was the headmaster and his mother a teacher at Great Cornard Council School, known today as The Old School situated on the junction of Wells Hall Road and Head Lane.  He lived with his parents, his brother Hubert and 3 younger sisters; Edith, Laura and Enzie in the schoolhouse attached to the school.  Ernest was a member of the Church choir until the end of 1908 when he left for Australia.


Ernest enlisted on 15th October 1914 at Helena Vale, Western Australia.  He served with ‘C’ Company’ in the 11th Battalion.  Ernest’s army service record shows that prior to enlisting he was employed as a ‘Mill Hand’.  He was single, aged 22¼ years, 5 feet 9 inches in height and had a chest measurement of 34 inches.  He had grey eyes and a fair complexion.  His brother Hubert served with the South African Corps.


On 22nd December 1914 in Melbourne Ernest embarked on HMAT Themistocles for Alexandria.  Five days before embarking he went AWOL (absent without leave) and was fined five shillings.  On 2nd February 1915 the battalion embarked on RMT ‘Suffolk” to join the M.E.F (Mediterranean Expeditionary Force) in the Dardanelles. 


Ernest took part in the first landing on the Gallipoli Penisular at around 4.30am on 25th April 1915 and was one of the first men ashore.  They came under heavy fire from the enemy.  On the night of 9th May Ernest was working in the firing line improving the trenches.  Shells were bursting over the position and a portion of one struck him in the chest.  His Commanding Officer wrote: Your son did his work nobly and well and none regret his death more than his comrades. His last words were “Tell Mother I died fighting” brave to the last his thoughts were with you.’


Ernest was killed in action on 10th May 1915 aged 22.  He lies buried in Lone Pine Cemetery, ANZAC, Turkey.  His records show that his father was his next of kin and Ernest’s personal effects were due to be forwarded to him.  Letters show that there was quite delay in sending them.  Ernest’s father wrote in November 1915: ‘I cannot describe to you how inexpressibly dear & sacred these things are to us & yet so many months after his death we cannot get hold of a single thing either belongings or monies owing to him.   For a life laid down so courageously & nobly we think so much is due & we should be glad if you will give us your very kind help.


After the war his father George acted as Hon. Secretary for the Great Cornard War Memorial Fund. 


©Shirley Smith - Sudbury & District Royal British Legion - November 2008