FOLEY, Cornelius Thomas

NAME:   Cornelius Thomas FOLEY                                                                                                     

SERVICE NO:  11754


PLACE OF BIRTH:  Coleraine

DATE OF ENLISTMENT: 8 January 1915



UNIT: 3rd Field Artillery Brigade (late 2nd Field Artillery Brigade)

EMBARKED:  28 January 1916

TROOPSHIP:  HMAT A32 Themistocles

FATE:  Killed in Action – 22 October 1917 – Zonnebeke, Belgium

Cornelius Foley was a son of Thomas Nicolas Foley and Margaret Maria O’Hagan and was born at Coleraine in 1896.  Thomas Foley bought the Hamilton Inn in Lonsdale Street, Hamilton in 1903 and the family moved from Coleraine.  Cornelius attended St Mary’s Convent school then was apprenticed to Mr Murphy of Hamilton as a hairdresser.  Known as Con, he played football for the Caledonian Football Club.  In January 1913, Thomas Foley died and the Hamilton Inn was sold the following year. 

When Con enlisted at Hamilton on 8 January 1915, being just nineteen, he had to provide a letter of permission from his mother (below).

Image courtesy of the National Archives of Australia

Image courtesy of the National Archives of Australia

It was less than three weeks after enlistment when Con left Australia on 28 January 1916 with the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade.  They arrived in Alexandria, Egypt in March 1916 and by April, Con was off to France. On 19 November 1916, he transferred to the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade, 7th Battery.  They moved on to Belgium, where on 3 August 1917, Con took some extended leave, AWOL from midnight on 3 August 1917 until midnight on 18 August.

Back with this unit, the 7th Battery found themselves near Zonnebeke Ridge on 22 October 1917, making their way to a battery position.  A shell exploded in the centre of the group, just in front of Con, killing him instantly.  He was buried on the Zonnebeke Road near where he fell.

On 10 January 1918, the Hamilton Spectator published extracts from letters of sympathy received by Margaret Foley. One was from Major Alan Crisp, who wrote of Con’s “cheerful disposition.” Drivers Hutchinson and Stephens said Con’s “coolness under shell fire was an inspiration to his comrades”.

A tree was planted for Cornelius Foley along Hamilton’s Anzac Avenue in 1918 and his name is also on the Hamilton War Memorial



Australian War Memorial – 3rd Australian Field Artillery Brigade Unit Diary – October 1917

Australian War Memorial – Red Cross Missing and Wounded Files – Cornelius Thomas Foley

Australian War Memorial – Roll of Honour – Cornelius Thomas Foley

Australian War Memorial WW1 Embarkation Roll – Cornelius Thomas Foley

Commonwealth War Graves Commission – Cornelius Thomas Foley

Discovering Anzacs – WW1 Service Record – Cornelius Thomas Foley

Newspaper Articles from Trove – Cornelius Thomas Foley

The AIF Project – Cornelius Thomas Foley

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