July 16, 2018

SubMatts quiet since June 11, 2018 due to Dad’s Death

Dad in the 1970s.

1.  Below is Dad's Obituary, by Major General (retired) Peter Phillips  AO  MC
        (who was also one of Dad's Duntroon classmates) 

         in the Sydney Morning Herald (online) and

        (a very similar version) in hardcopy in the Canberra Times (and also online) on 
        July 14, 2018, page 24.

This Obituary is an abridged version of the Eulogy delivered by Peter Phillips at Dad’s Funeral, at Duntroon Chapel, Canberra, on July 12, 2018.

JOHN COATES December 28, 1932 – June 11, 2018

Distinguished soldier and scholar

The former army chief went on to become an acclaimed military historian.

Lieutenant-General John Coates, a former chief of the Australian Army, died on the Queen's birthday weekend. Perhaps that was fitting: he entered the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in 1952, just as the Queen ascended to the throne, and served loyally in her army for 40 years. By any reckoning, his service was remarkable. Aside from reaching the army's top position as chief of the general staff, he went on to be an outstanding military historian before his death at age 85.
In his own words, Coates described his childhood as "inauspicious". He had little family life and boarded at Ipswich Grammar for nine years. He spent the summer holiday, before entering the school, playing with other boys in Albert Park in Brisbane. He befriended a young American boy, Arthur MacArthur, who lived in the nearby Lennon's Hotel. Together, they played war games in 1942: Coates, who would one day lead Australia's army, and MacArthur, the son of the supreme allied commander in the Pacific.
At Ipswich Grammar, Coates was senior prefect and excelled at sport. He was a member of the first XI, the GPS athletics team and the school tennis team, which included Roy Emerson. He was also a cadet lieutenant, which fostered his interest in a military career. The headmaster, Richard Morrison, said Coates was a loyal and distinguished scholar.

From Duntroon, Coates was commissioned into the Royal Australian Armoured Corps in 1955 and served with the 1st Armoured Regiment in Puckapunyal. He learnt his trade as a troop leader on Centurion tanks.
In 1956, he and others were detached to help run the Melbourne Olympics. At the Games, Coates scored a plum job commanding the ceremonial guard at the Games village. Being a tall, good-looking, eligible bachelor, he attracted much attention from female athletes, especially – but not wholly – from the Australian team. Pixmagazine christened him "Dreamboat". Flattering as this might seem, Coates was less than pleased when this nickname spread throughout the regiment and the army! 

A year later, he married Diana Begg in Adelaide. She was a noted athlete herself who played tennis at state level, and as a talented artist and designer before she took up nursing at the Adelaide Children's Hospital. They moved to Perth in 1958 where Coates was adjutant of the 10th Light Horse Regiment. It was the start of his close association with the Army Reserve, which he championed later in his service. 

He then returned to Puckapunyal to round out his experience in a tank squadron.

Coates was posted to Duntroon in 1963 and lectured in military history. He was offered a scholarship at the Australian National University, which he was unable to take up, but began a masters thesis on the Malayan Emergency, which he finished after a sabbatical in 1974.
From Duntroon, Coates sailed with family to join the Royal Scots Greys (now Royal Scots Dragoon Guards) on exchange as a squadron commander in the British Army on the Rhine. He adjusted quickly to working with one of Britain's aristocratic regiments and won the trust of his British cavalry subordinates. His commanding officer was Lieutenant-Colonel John Stanier, later a field marshal and Britain's chief of the Imperial General Staff. Stanier highly commended his Australian squadron commander and remained a friend.
On returning to Australia, Coates attended the army's Australian Staff College at Fort Queenscliff before taking command of a squadron of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, earmarked for service in Vietnam. Beginning in April 1970, he was to spend 14 months in Vietnam. First, he was an armoured personnel squadron commander taking part in "clear, hold and build missions". He helped developed the technique of ambushing armoured personnel carriers. He was proud of his crews, one of whom, Sergeant Ed Levy, he successfully recommended for the distinguished conduct medal.
Coates' own bravery was never in question. On May 27, 1970, in action as officer commanding B Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, he commanded a relief force sent to stabilise the situation near Xuyen Moc, Phuoc Tuy Province, where the enemy had over-run a Vietnamese post. He was supporting infantry from the 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Ron Grey. Grey, who was later to be a major-general commanding the army's land forces and a federal police commissioner, remarked that "Coates's action in personally taking the lead armoured personnel carrier into the village at full throttle was inspirational and an extraordinary feat of personal valour". He was made a member of the Order of the British Empire and awarded the Republic of Vietnam cross of gallantry with gold star.
Coates was also commended for his later work as operations officer or "brigade major" on Headquarters 1st Australian Task Force. He disliked the "body count" used by American forces as a measure of success and discouraged its use by Australian units. From Vietnam, he returned to Duntroon to be commanding officer of the Corps of Staff Cadets. He was much involved in the changes necessary following the 1970 Fox report on the "bastardisation" of Duntroon cadets. A decade later, he returned to Duntroon as commandant and found that some "hazing" still continued, which he systematically set about removing.
In [1975 and 1976], Coates was attached to the United States armoured training centre at Fort Hood, where he enjoyed working with the innovative commander, General Bill De Puy, and George S. Patton IV, son of another famous US general. 
Coates was especially interested in the use of assessment exercises for units, which he promoted in his next post as a colonel in the army's land forces headquarters. During that time in Sydney, he was involved in dealing with the 1978 Hilton Hotel bombing episode and in other contingency planning.
In 1981, he attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in Britain before returning to Canberra. Then, in 1984, Coates was appointed defence attache in Washington, where he watched over Australia's interests alongside ambassador Rawdon Dalrymple and in dealings with US defence secretary Casper Weinberger.
In 1987, he was appointed to head defence policy in the Australian Defence Force headquarters before taking command of the army as chief of the general staff. He was much involved in affairs in the ASEAN region and, like his predecessors, worked to strengthen links with their armies. 
Coates was made a companion of the Order of Australia before he retired in 1992.
Coates then began an association with the Australian Defence Force Academy's history department. Professor Peter Dennis said Coates "was both a productive scholar and an engaging colleague". At Dennis' suggestion, Coates published his master's thesis on the early part of the Malayan Emergency to positive reviews.
Coates then wrote some of the major campaign entries in The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History. His next book, Bravery above Blunder, was a detailed study of the performance of the 9th Division on the Huon Peninsula in 1943-44. These works combined rigorous and extensive research with the keen eye of an experienced soldier, and were extremely well received.

Coates' most ambitious project, An Atlas of Australia's Wars, was first published in 2001 as part of The Australian centenary history of defence that he and Dennis produced. Atlas was an enormous undertaking, requiring endless consultations with cartographer Keith Mitchell, and researching and writing the essays that accompanied each map. The series received outstanding reviews but there is no doubt that Coates' Atlas was the crowning glory. 

The University of NSW awarded Coates an honorary doctorate in 2011, in recognition of his services to scholarship, particularly military history.

Dennis said Coates was a wonderful colleague, ready to engage in argument but always open to correction or disagreement. His Atlas will be a boon to young military professionals for years to come. Dennis went on to say that "as I look back on Australian military history, I cannot think of any other senior officer who came close to John's achievements as a historian. John truly exemplified the idea of a 'soldier/scholar' ".

Coates is survived by Diana, their children Tina, Peter and Michael, and four grandchildren."
----------------------------------------------------------2.  Below is a poem written and delivered by Peter Coates
(intelligence general, country undefined, but good) 
part of the Family Eulogy at Dad’s Funeral Duntroon Chapel Canberra, July 12. 2018
"After talking to Dad for many years I’ve written a short poem that imagines:

WHAT DAD MAY SAY TODAY

When tomorrow starts without me
Just like yesterday
On this cold Winter afternoon
I have some things to say.

In 1970
I expected Vietnam would kill me
My end coming by a mine or RPG
Blowing up my APC.

But I lived 48 more years
Till 85 years old
Two diseases promised life till 2020
Then my heart gave out early.

I know I wasn’t perfect
Many things I regret
I had my faults
But please forgive me yet.

Life needs more forgiving
That’s the way we learn
It bonds us all together
For the better life we yearn

If I could relive yesterday
Even for a while
I’d crack a joke
And make you laugh
And even make you smile.

So when tomorrow starts without me
Don’t think we’re far apart
For every time you think of me
I’m right here in your heart."

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