New Zealand Law Society - John Coradine, 1887 - 1917

John Coradine, 1887 - 1917

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John Coradine
Sergeant John Coradine.

John Coradine was killed in action at Ypres, Belgium on 3 August 1917. He was aged 29. His name is on the Messines Ridge (New Zealand) Memorial in the Messines Ridge British Cemetery in Belgium.

John, who was widely known as Jack, was born on 8 August 1887 in Timaru. His parents were Sarah Ann and James Moore Coradine. His father was Mayor of Masterton, being re-elected for his fifth successive term in 1914. John attended Masterton School and was a pupil teacher at Technical School for a while. He proceeded to study law and took employment from 1903 to 1907 as a clerk with Masterton lawyer CA Pownall, being tutored by the renowned legal tutor E Rawson.

He was a keen participant in athletics, running in shorter distance events, and rugby. He played rugby for the Masterton Club and belonged to the Wairarapa Amateur Athletics club, where he served several years as Secretary.

At the end of 1906 Coradine was advised that he had passed the second and final section of the solicitors' professional examination. Not long after this, at the end of March 1907, he left Masterton for Wellington to work for the Wellington law firm Bolton and Organ. His former employer, CA Pownall, presented him with a "gentleman's companion" and hoped that Coradine would be "as successful in his new sphere as he had been in Masterton."

On 11 August 1908 Coradine was admitted by Justice Chapman as a solicitor of the Supreme Court, on the application of Mr Bolton. He moved back to Masterton a few months later to go into practice on his own account. On 25 January 1909 the Wairarapa Daily Times carried a "card" stating that "Mr John Coradine, solicitor, announces that he has commenced the practice of his profession in Gray's Buildings, Queen Street, Masterton." He was in action very quickly, the next month representing a client in the Magistrate's Court who the Magistrate described as a "fraudulent bankrupt".

Coradine embarked on a busy career as a sole practitioner in Masterton. Like most lawyers at the time he advertised his services and "money to lend on approved freehold securities at lowest current rates of interest". He appeared many times in the Masterton Magistrate's Court, representing clients on a wide range of matters. He also appeared occasionally in the Supreme Court when it sat in Masterton.

Coradine continued his legal studies and on 26 February 1913 it was announced that he had passed the second stage of the barrister's professional examination. He continued to practise until 31 May 1915 when he volunteered for service with the Armed Forces. Making arrangements to carry on his busy practice, he entered into a partnership with Wellington solicitor W Noble, his firm becoming Coradine and Noble.

He entered the training camp at Trentham on 7 September 1915 with B Company of the 4th Battalion of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. His medical examination showed he was 5 ft 8-1/2 inches tall (1.74 metres), weighed 147 pounds (66.7 kg) and had blue eyes and dark hair. He was promoted to Corporal on 5 October. On 8 October 1915 in the last act of his legal career, Coradine was admitted by Justice Chapman on the motion of Martin Luckie as a barrister of the Supreme Court.

Coradine embarked from Wellington with the 4th Battalion, Machine-gun Section on 5 February 1916, arriving at Suez in Egypt on 13 March. He underwent training at Ismaelia and was transferred to No 3 Machine Gun Company on 18 March. His unit moved to France on 6 April. Coradine was among a number of Masterton men with whom local man N Parsonson reported he had made contact "in England and France" in April 1917.

He was appointed Lance Sergeant on 19 April and promoted to Sergeant on 9 June. On 3 August 1917 he was killed in action during the Third Battle of Ypres in Belgium.

The news of his death brought many tributes from the Masterton legal and athletic community. On 25 August 1917 the offices of Masterton solicitors were closed from 11am to noon in respect of the memory of Sergeant John Coradine. Members of the profession and Justices of the Peace assembled at the courthouse at noon and M Caselberg, as senior Justice, presided. Lawyer AR Bunny said that as a solicitor Coradine had carried on a successful business in Masterton, was a credit to the legal profession in the district and was esteemed by all.

"The late solider was a brilliant scholar and had passed his examinations at a very early age," Mr EG Eton JP said. "The speaker remembered his brilliant career ever since he was a lad in the late Mr Pownall's office."

Coradine's partner, W Noble, told those present that there was no more honest or straightforward man in New Zealand than the late Sergeant Coradine. "He had heard from returned men that right through the horrors of war the late soldier had kept a brave heart and true spirit, and had died with his face to the foe. The late soldier was a gallant gentleman and a credit to the legal profession." (Wairarapa Daily Times, 25 August 1917, page 4). 

Three months later. on 18 January 1918, the Wairarapa Daily Times carried the following item: "Sergeant W Shackleton, of Masterton, writes as follows concerning the death of the late Sergeant J Coradine: I was very sorry to hear that Jack Coradine had been killed in action. I shall never forget him, as he just about saved my life on the Somme last year. I was nearly played out, and I had not been able to eat anything for a day or two, when I came across Jack. He saw I was not looking too well, and he gave me a bottle of German rum which he found in one of the captured dug-outs. That rum seemed to infuse new life and enabled me to carry on for a while longer." 

John Coradine is remembered on the brass memorial tablet in the New Zealand Law Society's Wellington Law library. His name is also on the Masterton War Memorial in Masterton Park. 

Sources: Wairarapa Daily Times, 16 October 1896, page 3; Wairarapa Daily Times, 19 October 1901, page 3; Wairarapa Daily Times, 7 May 1903, page 2; Wairarapa Daily Times, 16 February 1906, page 4; Wairarapa Daily Times, 12 December 1906, page 4; Wairarapa Daily Times, 22 December 1906, page 5; Wairarapa Daily Times, 30 March 1907, page 5; Dominion, 12 August 1908, page 6; Wairarapa Daily Times, 25 January 1909, page 4; Wairarapa Daily Times, 27 February 1909, page 5; Wairarapa Daily Times, 19 June 1909, page 4; Wairarapa Daily Times, 14 December 1911, page 4; Wairarapa Daily Times, 30 March 1912; Wairarapa Daily Times, 8 February 1913, page 4; Wairarapa Daily Times, 26 February 1913, page 4; Wairarapa Daily Times, 1 June 1915, page 5; Wairarapa Daily Times, 28 August 1915, page 4; Wairarapa Daily Times, 30 August 1915, page 1; Evening Post, 5 October 1915, page 8; Evening Post, 9 October 1915, page 2; Wairarapa Daily Times, 1 May 1917, page 5; Wairarapa Daily Times, 24 August 1917, page 5; Wairarapa Daily Times, 25 August 1917, page 4; Wairarapa Daily Times, 18 January 1918, page 5; JH Luxford, With the Machine Gunners in France and Palestine (Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd, Auckland, 1923), page 81.

Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph soldier profile.

This obituary has been prepared by the New Zealand Law Society to preserve the memory of members of the legal profession who died while serving in World War I.

Lawyers Roll of Honour. 

By Geoff Adlam, New Zealand Law Society. Further information is welcomed:

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