Tom Foster MBE

ARTHUR THOMAS FOSTER 22538949 M.B.E.

(KNOWN AS TOM)


SOLDIER SERVICE: 21.9.1950 UNTIL 31.10.1971
COMMISSIONED: 1.11.1971 UNTIL 31.5.1980


Tom Foster was born in Hackney, London on the 6th of January 1933. He left school at 14 with limited education, having spent much of his school days in Air Raid Shelters. Normal class size then was 54 pupils.
Tried to join the Army as a boy soldier, but his father would not sign the documents.


JOINING THE ARMY


Tom joined the Army when he was 17 years of age and on enlistment requested The Parachute Regiment.
At that time he was told he would have to go into a 'parent' Regiment first and then transfer.
Joined the Queens Royal Regiment which was his fathers old unit.
At 18 years of age Tom tried to transfer, but was refused. He was sent to Germany to join the Queens, and tried once again to transfer. Finally requested permission to write to his M.P as he considered that the Army was a "Con Game".
He wrote his request again to go to PARA Selection Course and was told not to come back to the Queens.


EGYPT


He passed his Pre PARA Course and qualified as a PARA. He was sent to join the Para Brigade in the Canal Zone, Egypt with 1 PARA.
Within 4 months he was a full Corporal and had a good few years at that rank.
On returning to Aldershot in 1954 he was promoted to Sergeant at the age of 21 years. He was mainly involved with training and became a member of the Battalion Shooting Team.
His 5 year engagement was coming to an end and he was offered a T.A posting to his home town if he signed on again. This he did and was posted to 11 PARA on North London.
After 1 year the T.A. Division was reduced to a Brigade and 11 PARA went to the Middlesex Regiment.
He returned again to Aldershot where once again he was involved heavily in training and shooting for the Battalion.


DISCHARGE


The extra two years which he had signed on for was again up, and he then took a discharge.
He stayed out in 'Civvy Street' for 6 months then re-enlisted as a Corporal.


CYPRUS


There were no vacancies for Sergeants in theBattalion at that time. They were sent to Cyprus for Internal Security Duties and he was soon promoted to Sergeant in charge of the SignalsPlatoon.


SIGNALS PLATOON
Tom did his Signals course at Hythe in Kent.
Due to his high course result, he was singled out to train officers in Signals and posted to Hythe for 2 years.


1 PARA


He then returned to 1 PARA, and found out that he had missed out on being promoted to WO2, due to MOD not releasing him from the Sigs unit at Hythe.
1 PARA moved to Cyprus again on a 'Quick Move' and became United Nations Troops, and saw the first time that Red Berets were changed for Blue.


2 PARA - MALAYA & BORNEO


Whilst in Cyprus was promoted and posted to 2 PARA as WO2. Soon after went with the Battalion to Malaya and Borneo,where he was recommended for a Commission, but was told that he was earmarked for R.S.M.
On returning to England he soon learnt aftera couple of weeks, that he was to head the advance Party for Bahrain.He spent most of his time as the Battalion Training Warrant Officer.


1 PARA - ADEN


After a year, he was promoted and posted back to 1 PARA as the RQMS.
Another move was on the cards for him to Aden in his new post. After a few weeks in Aden the QM returned home to the UK sick. The CO at the time asked Tom to be responsible for the whole withdrawal from Aden in his post, which he did. 1 PARA was the last unit out of Aden and both Tom and the CO at the time were on the last aircraft home.


AWARD OF MBE


He was awarded an MBE for his work on thewithdrawal phase from Aden soon afterwards, and recognised for his significant achievement to the Military withdrawal at the time.
He stayed as RQMS for a further 3 years and was finally appointed RSM 1 PARA.




RSM 1 PARA - NORTHERN IRELAND


The day he took over as RSM he was given 5 hours notice to move to Northern Ireland, where he stayed for 4 months .


CANADIAN WINGS COURSE


Returned from Northern Ireland where he took 50 mixed ranks from 1 PARA to Canada to complete the Canadian Airborne Course at Edmonton.


1 PARA - TWO YEAR TOUR NORTHERN IRELAND


On return from Canada the Battalion were posted to Northern Ireland for 2 years.
He found the 2 year tour a very difficult time for the Battalion, but returned with the whole Battalion in tact.


COMMISSIONED 2 PARA


Before his 2 year tour was completed he was Commissioned and returned to 2 PARA as W.T.O and AIR ADJUTANT as Captain.
2 PARA were then ordered to Northern Ireland for a short tour, Tom remained as OC Rear Party.


IRA ATTACK ON BRIGADE OFFICERS MESS


Tom was injured in the Mess Bombing, and was lucky as he was in the toilet at the rear at the time. He spent sometime in Hospital but fully recovered. He then returned to 1PARA as theTECH QM.
The Battalion were posted to Berlin soon after.


QM - 15 PARA


On his return to Aldershot Tom was posted to 15 PARA in Scotland.
He completed 3 years in that post and then resigned his commission at the rank of Major.


CIVVY STREET


He worked for a large property company and also started his own company. He became a County Councillor in Bedfordshire which he did for 8 years. He then became a Borough Councillor and Parish Council Chairman which he still enjoys today.
He held the position of President of the Bedfordshire Royal British Legion.
At the age of 73 years, he has continued to remain very active in all aspects of Charity work and now runs his own Guest house now in Bedfordshire.


Tom Foster is a credit to him self , his family and the Regiment. It was an honour to interview Tom as the first
" FAMOUS NAMES OF THE PARACHUTE REGIMENT"

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