b. 04/01/1886 Streatham, London. d. 22/01/1946 Tooting, London.
Edward “Tiny” Foster (1886-1946) was born at 14 Tooting Grove, Wandsworth, London on 4th February 1886. His father, Charles, was a brewer, and later a labourer. His mother was Mary Ann nee Biggs. Charles and Mary were married on Christmas Day 1875 at St Barnabus, Kensington. Edward had three siblings – Amelia (born 1881), Charles (born 1883) and George (born 1891).
Edward was educated at Tooting Graveney School, Wandsworth and was employed as a dustman with a contractor, FW Surridge, and later with Wandsworth Borough Council. He married Alice Jane nee Donovan on 8th May 1910 at Croydon, Surrey. They had one child, Dennis Edwin Foster, believed to have been born in 1923. Edward enlisted on 27th July 1915. He was nicknamed “Tiny”, despite being 6ft 2in tall and weighing over 20 stone. He went to France with his Battalion on 3rd June 1916.
On 24th April 1917 at Villers-Plouich, Nord, France, during an attack, the advance was held up in a portion of the village by two machine-guns which were entrenched and strongly covered by wire entanglements. Corporal Foster who was in charge of two Lewis guns succeeded in entering the trench and engaged the enemy guns. One of the Lewis guns was lost, but the corporal rushed forward, bombed the enemy and recovered the gun. Then, getting his two guns into action, he killed the enemy gun team and captured their guns.
The VC was presented to Edward by King George V outside Buckingham Palace on 21st July 1917. He was also awarded the French Medaille Militaire, the week before, on 14th July 1917. He was discharged from the Army on 24th October 1918.
Post war, Edward worked as a dustman inspector for Wandsworth Borough Council covering Wandsworth, Putney and Roehampton. He was a member of the VC Guard at the interment of the Unknown Warrior on 11th November 1920. He died at St James’ Hospital, Balham, London on 22nd January 1946 and was buried in Streatham Cemetery, Tooting. A new headstone was dedicated on 7th June 1997. He also has a path alongside the River Wandle in Wandsworth named after him as Foster’s Way.
In addition to his VC, he was awarded the British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, George VI Coronation Medal 1937 and French Medaille Militaire. The VC was purchased in 1981 by Bob Richardson of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He sold it at Sotheby’s on 30th June 1988 for £12,100 to Michael Ashcroft. It is displayed in the Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM.
BURIAL PLACE: STREATHAM CEMETERY, STREATHAM, LONDON.
Edward Foster's medals including VC on display at Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum, London (August 2014).
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
Foster's Way, Wandsworth
Wandsworth Town Hall
All Saints Church, Kingston upon Thames
War Illustrated, 11th August 1917