John Rufus Foster

Supply Assistant - Royal Navy - HMS Imogen - Service No. C/MX 63733

Background Information


21st November 1919



Supply Assistant - Royal Navy - HMS Imogen - Service No. C/MX 63733



16th July 1940 age 20

John Rufus Foster was born on 21st November 1919 in Hoo, Kent. His father was Rufus George Foster, a Chauffeur Mechanic, and his mother was Margery Beatrice (née Dace). The first school that he attended was Cecil Road School in Gravesend.
In 1931 John Foster joined The County School for Boys – now known as Gravesend Grammar School. The Head Master at that time was the Reverend Samuel Lister. The County School for Boys was located in Darnley Road, Gravesend close to the Railway Station (now the Victoria Centre for Education). In 1938 the School moved to brand new premises in Church Walk, Milton, Gravesend opposite to Milton Church.
The School’s Admission Register lists John’s address as 195 Old Road West, Gravesend. Whilst at the School, John was in Cliff House, and played for the 2nd XV Rugby team. Younger brother Anthony (born 1926) also attended the School in 1937. Their father’s occupation at that time is listed as Chief of Ground Staff at Gravesend Airport, in the 1939 Census he is listed as a Driving Instructor. Anthony went on to serve in World War Two as a Private in the Royal Army Service Corps.
In 1937 John left the School and started work as a Junior Assistant at Gravesend Public Library. When war broke out, he enlisted in the Royal Navy as a Supply Assistant Service Number C/MX 63733, joining HMS Imogen. HMS Imogen had previously sunk two German submarines and taken part in the Norwegian campaign, and in June 1940 she escorted the aircraft carrier Illustrious to Bermuda.
On the 16th July 1940, Imogen had been returning to Scapa Flow, when she was rammed and sunk by the British light cruiser HMS Glasgow in thick fog, south east of Duncasby Head, Scotland. 10 Officers and 125 enlisted crew were rescued. John Foster was one of the members of crew who lost their lives, he was 20 years old. He is remembered at Chatham Naval Memorial 39, 2.

John’s Form had the highest number of students who lost their lives in World War Two. He share’s the Roll of Honour with Harold Ayliffe, Elton Ede, Francis Fry, Gilbert Hall and Geoffrey Parritt.

There are links below to Newspaper Clippings and Photographs from the Gravesend Grammar School Archives.
Below are links to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and a few other websites that might be of interest:

Chatham Naval Memorial 39, 2.