Foster family: Deportation while eldest son was a Japanese PoW

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Deportation while eldest son was a Japanese PoW


Frank Foster

The Foster family, who moved to Jersey in the 1930s, were among those islanders who were deported to an internment camp in Germany during the Occupation because they were not born in Jersey. It was some two years before they discovered that their eldest son, who joined the Army at the outbreak of war, had been captured by the Japanese and held as a prisoner of war, and months after the war's end in Europe before they were reunited in Jersey

It was an eventful war for Frank Norman Foster, who was born in London in 1892 and moved to Jersey with his second wife and four children to establish Fosters, a radio shop, at 31 Hill Street.

St Malo evacuation

He had already helped with the Dunkirk evacuation and was involved in the fleet of small vessels which left Jersey to help rescue retreating members of the British Expeditionary Force from St Malo in June 1940, and witnessed the destruction of the port and other facilities by the Naval Demolition Squad before returning safely to Jersey.

When he wrote a few days later to his son Norman, who had joined the Royal Signals three months earlier, he and his wife had decided against evacuating from Jersey to England when it was feared that the Germans would invade.

'We are now more or less at the mercy of the Germans if they desire to take a trip across here, which I think and I hope they won't.'
Pre-war transport: Frank Foster's bombed MG on 28 June 1940

German Occupation

His optimism was ill-founded, because a week later the Germans arrived, announcing their impending invasion with a bombing run by three Luftwaffe Aircraft over the east coast and St Helier Harbour.

This almost cost Frank Foster his life, because he was having a drink at the Royal Yacht Hotel at the Weighbridge when one of the aircraft aimed a bomb at it. His treasured MG sports car outside took a direct hit, just as he was persuaded to have another drink 'for the road'. His grandson Peter, who has supplied details of his family's history to Jerripedia, says that it has become something of a family tradition to have 'one for the road'.

It would be over five years before Frank was again able to write to his son from Jersey, and in the intervening period both ended up in somewhat different circumstances behind the barbed wire of an enemy camp.

Post-war transport:Frank Foster retrieves the family's belongings cared for by friends during their internment in Wurzach

Deportation and internment

In 1942 Frank, his wife Enid, and two younger children, Frank Norman and Stephanie, were deported to Wurzach German internment camp, along with hundreds of other island residents who had been born in the UK. While there they discovered that son Norman had been captured by the Japanese and held as a prisoner of war in Thailand from the fall of Singapore in February 1945 until the end of the war.

Eventually Frank and his family returned to Jersey to pick up the pieces of their home and their business, and several months later, Norman, who escaped execution and a mass burial scheduled for five days after the Japanese surrender brought the war to a final end, made it back to Jersey, weighing 6½ stone and dubbed the 'walking Belsen'.

However, the family's trials were not over, because, already suffering serious illness from his time in Wurzach, Frank Foster died in 1946, leaving his widow Enid and son Norman to run the family business in Hill Street. However, this did not work out for Norman, who decided to return to his pre-war employment with Midland Bank.

The Foster family in South Africa, Norman and Madeleine, centre, with Felicity, Peter, Anthony and Anita

He, too, had health issues, and his doctor's recommendation to move to a warmer climate precipitated a move to South Africa, which had impressed him during a short stay en route from the UK to India years earlier. He and Madeleine Le Cuirot, from Grouville, whom he knew before the war and met again on his return to Jersey, married and raised their family there.

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