Summary

Alternative Name(s): Dress Pin

Gold brooch with small lead shrapnel ball mounted on it, identified as Turkish in origin, removed from wound of Sergeant George Foster, service no. 1267. Later mounted on a pin, probably for his wife. The note accompanying the brooch said the wound 'felt as big as your fist'.

George Foster, an immigrant from England, was a 24-year-old labourer when he enlisted at Morphetville, South Australia on 12 September 1914. His mother in South Australia was initially cited as his next of kin, but later her name was crossed out and substituted with the name of his wife Julia, who lived in London. George embarked from Melbourne on the Ceramic on 22 December 1914, bound for Egypt. After several months there, he was part of the early landings on Gallipoli. His service record states that he was wounded there on 28 April 1915 (two days later than the note accompanying the donation suggests). His wound was later described as 'GSW [gunshot wound] left loin'. It was sufficiently severe for him to be sent to England by hospital ship. By September he was able to return to his unit in Mudros, where on 29 October he was promoted to sergeant. From there he apparently sent back to the Dardenelles front, as his wife later writes that he was involved in the evacuation of Gallipoli.

Back in Egypt in May 1916, George was reported to be suffering from venereal disease, later corrected and described instead as 'ademitus of idropathic inguinal' (an undefined groin condition with swelling). He spent several weeks in hospital. On 8 September 1916 he was sent back to England, and on 16 September he was in France. He survived there just four months. George Foster was killed in action on 15 January 1917, at Gueudecourt, near Bapaume, France. He was buried at Grass Lane, Gueudecourt. His personal items were sent to his wife: mittens, cap comforter, sergeant's chevrons, whistle, purse, four notebooks, wallet, letters, cards, photos and two coins. She later moved to South Australia.

Museum Victoria also holds three military medals awarded to George Foster.

Physical Description

Gold brooch with small lead shrapnel ball mounted on it. Pin is made from a piece of wire, gold in colour, appearing as one continuous piece twisted to form a spring at one end and a looped clasp at the other. End of pin is sharpened to a point and latches under a curl at the end. Lead shrapnel ball is largely spherical, but dented and misshapen. Bullet is soldered to pin.

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