Topic: Randolph Coates

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Randolph Coates (Service no. 25/132) was a First World War soldier with links to Wharenui School and the Riccarton area.

Randolph was born in Christchurch on 26 July 1895, to William Giles Coates and Emily Sarah Coates (nee Harper).  He had 3 siblings, Mary Rosa Emily, Giles William Dalby and Allan Dalby.

As with many children of the time Randolph attended several schools for the first few years of his education.  His schooling spanned the Christchurch region in accordance to where his family was living and working at the time.  These schools were Woolston, Central New Brighton and Addington before finally enrolling at Wharenui School on 27 July 1908. He was at Wharenui School until July, 1909 and left after having attained his Certificate of Proficiency, as well as taking the “Marksman’s Badge" prize at the same prize-giving.  This marksman’s prowess was not to bode too well for Randolph in the near future. Randolph, along with an accomplice Oscar Collins, was convicted and discharged in the Magistrate’s Court in July 1912 for “…having discharged peas on the Riccarton Road to the danger of passers-by.  The sergeant of police said that the boys had been striking people in the trams with peas shot out of a glass tube…They were later lectured by the Magistrate, and convicted and discharged.”

Randolph was obviously a bit of mischievous scallywag at Wharenui.  One of his former schoolmates remembers, "...Randolph Coates coming to the school from Addington because he sat next to me in the dual desks. He was a lad of many pranks, with a wicked look in his eye and mischievous smile always near the surface. My first experience of him was putting aniseed balls in the inkwells - making the ink sticky so that it would not blot. Then he calcium carbide which of course bubbled and brought up all sorts of rubbish from the depths. I who was almost too well behaved in school, had great difficulty in keeping out of trouble while he was my partner, though I never remember him getting into serious trouble himself"

After leaving Wharenui School Randolph went on to the Technical College where he attained qualifications in 1st commercial correspondence, history, shorthand, 2nd English and geography. On leaving his schooling behind at the end of 1911, Randolph was to pursue a career as a Customs Clerk at Kinsey & Co.  The breakout of the war was still an unknown entity for everyone concerned.

On the 24  August 1915, Randolph (20yrs), as a recruit for the reinforcements, presented himself at the King Edward Barracks for a medical examination.  He was in good health, apart from the need to have a plate fitted.  This plate fitting was signed off on 16 September so everything was ready for Randolph to sign up for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force on 12 October 1915.

Randolph was part of C Company, 3rd Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade.  This battalion departed 5 February 1916 on the Ulimaroa (Troopship 42) bound for the Suez.  Unfortunately Randolph's service to New Zealand was short-lived as he contracted pneumonia whilst on the troopship.  He was admitted to hospital in Colombo and then made his way back to the shores of New Zealand in April 1916.  He was discharged from the N.Z.R.B on 6 June 1916.

Randolph went on to marry Alice Maud Stephens in 1918.  They both moved around the Canterbury area to live and work where employment was available at that time.   Randolph became a labourer in Lake Tekapo, a shepherd in Waiau before becoming a tally clerk in Christchurch.  He stayed in this job for several years before becoming a postmaster and then retiring in Poranui, Banks Peninsula.

Randolph died on 23 December 1962.  He is buried, alongside his wife Alice, in St Mary's Anglican Cemetery, Christchurch.

He is remembered on the Wharenui School, Roll of Honour.


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Randolph Coates

First Names:Randolph
Last Name:Coates
Place of Birth:Christchurch