SERVICE NO: 11754
YEAR OF BIRTH: 1896
PLACE OF BIRTH: Coleraine
DATE OF ENLISTMENT: 8 January 1915
PLACE OF ENLISTMENT: Hamilton
AGE AT ENLISTMENT: 19
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).
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”.