Henry Foster (1897-1973)

Henry Foster, my father's father, was the youngest of three children born to Christopher Foster and Betsy Leeming Taylor.

Their oldest child, Margaret, was born in 1894; Christopher, their second child, was born in 1896 and Henry was born on 31st October 1897 at Further Meadows farm, Ramsbottom. He was baptised on 5th December at Emmanuel, Holcolmbe.

As the above extract from the parish records shows, Henry's father was a farm bailiff. My understanding of this is that the bailiff is responsible for the smooth running of the farm and management of the farm workers.

The Foster family were still at Further Meadows in 1901, when Henry was four years old, his father was 28 and Betsy was 31; his siblings, Margaret, seven and Christopher, five.

There is a photograph of Further Meadows on the website of Holcombe Moor Heritage Group.

By the time he was 14, Henry's older siblings had left home and he was living with his parents at Uglow Farm in Edgworth, Turton near Bolton. I recall as a child when we were out on a family walk near the Strawberry Pub in Turton, my cousin Tommy pointed out Uglow Farm and told me some of my relatives used to live there. This is what Uglow Farm looked like in 2011:

World War I

Henry was called up on 28th September 1916 and was attested, at Preston, on 29th September 1916. His family had clearly moved to Bottomly Bank Farm, Crawshawbooth, as this is the address on his official army papers. He was 18 years and 4 months when he joined up; he was 5' 6" tall, weighed 40 lbs and had a girth of 36 and a half inches. He had a mole on his left shoulder blade. He was medically rated B1. On his enlistment papers he says he is a farmer and horseman. Here is his signature from his attestation papers:

After training, Henry is transferred to the Cheshire Regiment on 30th December 1916. On 16th February 1917 he embarked from Folkstone for Bologne and saw military action in France. His number was 70358 and his unit was 118th COY Labour Company. It seems the Labour Company consisted of officers and other ranks who were rated less than A1 fit, which was needed for the front line. The Labour Corps units were often deployed for work within range of the enemy guns, sometimes for lengthy periods.

Henry was on leave from 20th January to 3rd February 1918 (one assumes in France). He was promoted to paid lance corporal on 6th April 1918 and then, on 20th April 1918 to paid acting corporal. It looks like he was probably demobbed in January 1919 as he signed a paper saying he did not suffer from any disabililty due to his military service on 19th January 1919. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal:

Here is a link to Wartime Memories Project: The Labour Corps.

Marriage

On 27th February 1920, Henry married Jane Hamer at the Methodist Church in Newchurch-in-Rossendale. I don't have a wedding photograph but this one must have been taken round about the same time:

Their first child, Jane, was born on 4th December 1920, the records say Manchester but it is likely to be on a farm somewhere, possibly in Rossendale.

Their second child, Christopher Leeming, was born on 7th February 1923 in Rawtenstall and died on 16th April the same year.

Henry Leeming, my father, was born on 13th February 1925 at 14 Cambridge Road, St Annes on the Sea. Henry, my grandfather, was a dairyman.

Their fourth child, Christopher, was born on 10th March 1927 in Preston and died 2nd September the same year.

Their fifth child, Dorothy, was born on 20th November 1933 in Darwen. I know that at some point the Fosters lived at Jack Keys Farm, I don't know if this is where Dorothy was born. I recall my mother telling me when she was courting Harry she used to go and help out at hay-making time.

Here is a photograph of grandad Foster in 1952, at Dorothy's wedding: my dad, Harry Foster is on the left, then grandma Jane Foster, aunty Dorothy, grandad Henry Foster, then aunt Jenny (Jane).

And here is one, probably taken about 1948/49 as I look about one or just older; I am sitting on my grandma's knee whilst my brother, Stephen, is sitting on our grandad's knee. My cousin Kathleen is at the front; Jane is at the back, left, Dorothy at the back, right, with my mother in the middle. I can only assume our father has taken the photograph.

Henry died on 21st March 1973 in Rawtenstall, aged 75 years. He is buried in Rawtenstall Cemetry, alongside his wife Jane, whom he outlived by seven years.