WW1 Randolph Edward Oswald and Eric Albert Coates 12/59 & 11/643

Randolph Edward Oswald Coates [1]

Randolph Edward Oswald Coates was born in Adelaide on 19 May 1888, the elder son of Oswald and Valerie Albine Coates (nee Lassau) of “Waimana”, 14 Hastings (now Haast) Rd, Remuera, Auckland.

He came to New Zealand in 1893. He was educated at the Mount Eden Public School and Wanganui Boys’ High School. Upon leaving, the latter, he assisted his father for a few years, finally leaving for Coromandel and North Auckland in charge of a survey party for the Lands & Survey Dept. He lived at George (now Ohinerau) St in Remuera.

At the outbreak of war, accompanied by his only brother Eric, he enlisted as a private in the machine-gun section of the 3rd Auckland Infantry Brigade. He sailed on the 16 Oct 1914-3 December 1914 from Wellington to Suez, Egypt. Quickly gaining his stripes, he left with the Main Body, and served throughout the Gallipoli campaign. Owing to illness, he was ordered to Egypt, but in the act of embarking was wounded by shrapnel in December 1915 at Alexandria. Subsequently his name was mentioned in dispatches for “devotion to duty” and for “continuous good work in charge of the New Zealand Infantry Brigade”. [1a]

Randolph Edward Oswald Coates — Headstone Purewa Cemetery [2]

He was offered a commission in an English regiment, but refused to leave his comrades. Shortly afterwards he accepted a commission as Lieutenant in the New Zealand Infantry. He passed the examinations for the Royal Flying: Corps, but his transfer was refused, and he was “ordered to the firing-line” in France and Belgium in March 1917. He was in the 2nd Auckland Company when he met his death during the battle for Messines, Flanders,Belgium on 7 June 1917, aged 29.
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Randolph is remembered on the St Aidan’s Church war memorial and at the Underhill Farm Cemetery, Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium (GRAVE REFERENCE A. 9) and on a family grave memorial, Purewa Cemetery, Meadowbank, Auckland. [2] [3]

Sgt. Eric Coates —Back Row 2nd Left [3]

Randolph’s brother Eric and sister Gladys also served in WW1. Very unfortunate circumstances are associated with the death of Lieutenant Eric Albert Coates 11/643, who died in Auckland from influenza. Leaving New Zealand with the Main Body as a trooper in the machine-gun section of the Wellington he served continuously on Gallipoli, with one short break owing to illness, from the date of the arrival of the Mounted Brigade until the evacuation. During this period he received no wound. He served through the greater part of the Sinai campaign escaping death. He received a well-earned promotion, and he returned to New Zealand on duty furlough in February 1918. He died of influenza at Awanui Private Hospital on November 14th 1918. [4]

Gladys Coates, Randolph’s youngest sister, Gladys, who was doing war work as a motor driver in England, lost her husband, Lieutenant Henning, in France in 1918, but went on after the war to become the first woman in New Zealand to obtain a pilot’s certificate. [4]

St Aidans Buchanan to Dagg WW1 [4]