Kingsley came home to England to attend school at St. Faith’s, Cambridge, from which he went to Clifton College, Bristol. In 1925 he joined the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers.
His father was by then second in Command of the Battalion. He had assumed command by 1932 when the Battalion returned to England from Shanghai. In July that year Kingsley married Audrey Geraldine Ballard. They had one daughter, Patricia.
In 1950 KONF refused an appointment in India as a Brigadier and relinquished his appointment in Singapore as a full Colonel to return to the rank of Lt. Col. in order to command his own Regiment which was then ordered to Korea. He was killed in Korea in April 1951. In England the family lived mainly at The Old Mill House, Hildersham, Cambridge, the home of Kingsley’s parents. After Kingsley’s death, his widow, Audrey, was granted a grace and favour apartment at Hampton Court Palace.
In the course of a lecture he gave at Army General Headquarters to the Commander in Chief’s staff in April 1949 he told of a “lucky break in his collecting life” which
happened during the army’s occupation of Berlin in 1945. The Potsdam Conference to define occupation zones was underway and Colonel Foster managed to slip away into the Russian zone. Firstly he brought out into the Western zone members of the family of Prince Bismark. Then, at the invitation of an aristocrat friend of Prince Bismark, Baron Van Mirbach, a former court chamberlain, he made an audacious visit to Russian army headquarters in the city, climbed three floors then, in his words “nipped into the attic” from where he carried away in a laundry hamper the baron’s “collection of medieval orders of chivalry such as a collector usually dreams about”. “No one saw fit to comment on the unusual spectacle of a British Officer walking out of a Russian headquarters with a washing hamper”.
The Baron, who had no heirs both his sons having been killed in the war, seemed motivated by hatred of Russians, gave what he called “the finest [medal] collection in Europe” to Colonel Foster. The final challenge was to bring the collection to England in which he succeeded by paying a nominal £100 in customs duty after pulling strings at the highest level.
Sadly the Van Mirbach decorations had to be sold to support his widow, but the rest of his considerable collection, specialising in the Peninsular War, is in the regimental museum at Alnwick Castle. Personal decorations of Colonel Foster and his father remain in the family.
Colonel Foster, the most senior British officer to die during the Korean War, was laid to rest at a military cemetery in Busan.
(Sources: Pictures from the Foster/Nugent family archives.)