b. 12/10/1906 Willenhall, Staffordshire. d. 12/1964 West Bromwich, Staffordshire.
DATE OF AM ACTION: 11/06/1931 Simla Hills, India.
William was the second of three sons of Job and Frances Foster, who lived at 8 Aldridge Street in Darlaston. ‘Bill’ Foster enlisted into The Leicestershire Regiment at Wolverhampton on 21.5.1926, on a Regular Engagement of 7 years with the Colours and 5 on the Reserve. Occupation on enlistment was moulder. After 18 months at the Depot, he joined 1st Bn in India on 4.11.1927, and served in it at Kamptee, Nagpur, Ambala and Multan, latterly in D (Machine Gun) Company. On 19.6.1931 he was commended by the Area Commander for ‘his gallant conduct when attempting to save the life of a comrade during the forest fire at Sabathu, Simla Hills, India on June 11th, 1931’. The comrade whom Foster rescued was Private A.L. Smith, who died of his injuries on the night of the forest fire in the Simla Hills. For that gallant conduct Foster was subsequently awarded the Albert Medal (L.G. 30.10.1931), with which he was presented by the Commander-in-Chief India, at a Garrison Parade held at Jullunder on 15.3.1932. Foster concluded his Colour service with 1st Bn on 14.12.1933, when he returned home and joined the Reserves on 29.12.1933.
After 5½ years in the Reserves and with the Second World War imminent, Foster was mobilised on 1.9.1939 and twelve days later he set out for France in the British Expeditionary Force attached to a unit which his Record of Service describes as ‘58 & 76 L.A. Sec’. He was posted back to England on 18.11.1939, and served in various units for the next five months. He was discharged from the Army on 30.4.1940 under King’s Regulations 383 as ‘ceasing to fulfil Army physical requirements. Physically unfit for any form of Army service’. He died in 1964, aged 58 years.
Shortly before 9 p.m. on the evening of llth June, 1931, a forest fire broke out in’the neighbourhood of Sabathu, Simla Hills, on a steep hillside which was covered with highly inflammable pine needles. A Company of The Leicestershire Regiment on Fire Picquet immediately proceeded to the scene and attempted to beat out the fire. The wind, however, fanned the flames which became so fierce that the Company was withdrawn, but on the Roll being called it was found that two men, Private A- L. Smith and Private Foster, were missing. Private Smith had been cut off by the fire and in endeavouring to escape he slipped on the hillside where he lay with his clothing alight surrounded by flames and unable to move. Private Foster, who had become detached from his Company, was informed by an Indian that one of his comrades was lying ablaze on the hill. He at once rushed down through 200 yards of flaring undergrowth and found Smith lying helpless in the fire. Foster picked Smith up and carried him some 300 yards to a place of safety, whence both men were taken to hospital in a state of collapse, Smith being so badly burned that he never rallied and died the same night. Foster’s action in endeavouring to save his comrade was an extremely brave one. He went into the fire at grave peril to his own life, and had he fallen on the slippery hillside no one would have been there to go to his assistance.
BURIAL LOCATION: UNKNOWN.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LEICESTERSHIRE REGIMENT MUSEUM, LEICESTER.