Service Number WR/505696
Battalion Inland Water Transport Coy
Regiment Royal Engineers
The Collingham Parish magazine of December 1914, published a list of men serving at that time, which includes the name of G. Forster, but with no military unit listed. A few months later, in February 1915, a longer list was published in the magazine. A Private George Forster is again listed, this time with the unit given as 9th West Yorkshire Regiment.
The 1918 electoral roll for Collingham lists John and Mary Forster in the main list and George Adamson Norman Forster as being Absent due to Naval or Military service. The question is whether the first George Forster is the same as the George Adamson Norman Forster.
Because of the number and combination of Christian names, we can start with George Adamson Norman Forster. He was born on the 20th February 1895 in Earsdon, Blyth, Newsham, Northumberland, the son of John Forster and his wife Mary. This George's service record has survived and confirms his place of birth as Blyth in Northumberland. However on the Attestation Form Army Form B. 2065 is a question "Have you resided out of your father's house for three years continuously in the same place, or occupied a house or land of the yearly value of £10 for one year, and paid rates for the same, and, in either case, if so, state where?". To this question, George Adamson Norman Forster answered "No. Station House, Collingham Bridge". Later, on the form, George gave the name and address of his next of kin as Mr J Forster, Station House, Collingham Bridge, Nr Leeds. We can therefore be sure that George Adamson Norman Forster was from Collingham and did serve. However the question remains whether there was another 'George Forster' who served.
The service record for George Adamson Norman Forster, and the medal rolls and the medal index cards show that he served in 17th Battalion (the North Eastern Railway Battalion) of the Northumberland Fusiliers and the Royal Engineers. There is no record of him serving in the 9th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment as reported in the Parish Magazine. This suggests either that there was a mistake in the Parish Magazine, or that we should be looking for a separate, second George Forster.
A search of the medal rolls shows that 95 men named George Forster were awarded campaign medals for World War 1, and there is also the possibility that 'our' man did not serve overseas and was not awarded any medal. A more detailed search reveals that only one man, named George Oliver Forster, was awarded campaign medals AND served in the West Yorkshire Regiment, although his service was in the 2nd Battalion rather than the 9th.
It still remains an unanswered question whether one man (George Adamson Norman Forster) from Collingham served and was wrongly attributed to the 9th West Yorks in the Parish Magazine, or if two men (George Adamson Norman Forster of the Northumberland Fusiliers and the Royal Engineers AND George Forster of the 9th West Yorkshire Regiment) served their country.
The rest of this page will outline the service of George Adamson Norman Forster from Collingham.
George Adamson Norman Forster enlisted on the 16th September 1914 in York and was immediately mobilised for service as Private 17/208 in the Northumberland Fusiliers, joining the 17th Battalion of that Regiment. On the 15th February 1915, George was stationed in Hull, and his record shows that he was awarded a punishment of being confined to barracks for 3 days for 'inattention in the ranks'. Later in the year there are records of him being in Catterick Bridge (20th June) and Codford (21st August), before he went to France to serve on the 20th November 1915.
On the 16th September 1916, George was granted a good conduct badge. On the 16th December his record states that he was transferred to DGJ General Headquarters, but the writing is hard to decipher and we do not know what this abbreviation means. Just two days later, George was transferred to the Royal Engineers becoming Sapper 249008 Forster. A further, undated transfer must have happened as George later became a member of the Inland Water Transport Company of the Royal Engineers with a service number of WR/505696. On the 1st February 1918, George was appointed as Acting Lance Corporal.
George's service record has been badly damaged, probably during rescue after the storage site was bombed in World War 2, and many details are difficult to read. We can see that George was admitted to hospital on the 11th June, and we believe this was in 1918. No further details of the reason can be made out.
After the war, in 1925, George married Simonne J A Muraour in the district of Ecclesall Bierlow.
1911 Census. The National Archives. Class RG14 Piece 25962
First World War Medal Index Cards. The National Archives (WO372).
First World War Medal Index Rolls. The National Archives (WO329).
First World War British Army Service Records. The National Archives (WO363).
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