No. 5623, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Killed in action on Friday 18 December 1914 (aged 56)
No known grave
Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium (Panel 40)
Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour
In the 28 April 1917 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle an article was published under the headline A Patriotic Newtownards Family and therein it was reported that Sarah Jane Foster of 76 James Street, Newtownards had four sons, five grand-sons and four sons-in-law on active service.
Her sons on active service were named as Rifleman John Foster, Rifleman Alexander Foster, Rifleman Thomas Foster and Sergeant Harry Foster. Two of her sons, John and Harry, were killed in action.
Her sons-in-law on active service were named as Private Thomas Johnston, Lance Corporal John McNeill, Rifleman Joseph Reid and Rifleman Charles Reid. It was reported that Rifleman Charles Reid served with the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and was killed in action on 1 July 1916. Rifleman Charles Reid (No. 6810) was with the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles when he died on 9 July 1916 and he is commemorated in the Belfast Book of Honour (Page 549). His wife Margaret was living at 42 Constance Street, Belfast. Charles Reid and Margaret (Maggie) Foster were married on 27 November 1894 in Second Newtownards Presbyterian Church.
Sarah Jane Foster’s grand-sons who served in the Great War were named as Rifleman John Foster (No. 6234), Rifleman Alex Foster (No. 17652), Rifleman Harry Foster, Private William Foster and Rifleman James Logan.
John Foster was the first of Sarah Jane’s two sons to die on active service in the Great War.
John Foster was born around 1857/1858 in Carlisle, England and he was a son of George and Sarah Jane Foster. George Foster worked as a mechanic.
In civilian life John Foster worked as a labourer and on 26 October 1880 he and Rose Ann Brown were married in Dungannon Registrar’s Office. Rose Ann Brown from the townland of Altnavannog, Dungannon was a daughter of William Brown, a labourer.
John and Rose Ann Foster (nee Brown) had at least eight children:
Sarah Jane (born 28 May 1881 in Altnavannog, Dungannon, Co Tyrone)
Mary Jane (born 2 June 1883 in Whiteabbey)
William George (born 29 April 1886 at 16 St Mary Street, Belfast)
Henry (born 20 September 1888 in Church Street, Newtownards)
Annie (born 2 July 1891 in Church Street, Newtownards)
Sarah Jane (born 1 March 1896 at 18 Back Club Row, Belfast)
John (born 9 October 1899 in Monkstown)
Alexander (born 20 September 1900 in Monkstown)
During the Great War John Foster served with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles.
Rifleman John Foster was 56 when he was killed in action on 18 December 1914 during exchanges at the end of a spell of four days in the trenches and at that time his family was living at 35 Tyne Street, Belfast. They moved to Bell’s Yard, Whitehouse.
Rifleman John Foster has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium and in the Belfast Book of Honour (Page 199).