John Harold Coffen

From Our Contribution

John Harold Coffen
Personal Information
Date of Birth c1894
Place of Birth Perth, Western Australia
Place of Death Victoria
Age at Enlistment 20 years, 7 months
Description 5'6" (1.68m) tall ; 131 lbs
59.421 kg
; dark complexion ; brown eyes ; brown hair
Occupation Sleeper hewer
Religion Church of England
Address Jarrahdale, Wesern Australia
Next of Kin Father , Mr Harold Coffen
Military Information
Reg Number 960
Date of Enlistment 17 Aug 1914
Rank Corporal
Unit/Formation 11th Battalion / 3rd Brigade, 1st Division
Date of Embarkation 31 Oct 1914 ‒ 5 Dec 1914
Ship Embarked On HMAT A11 Ascanius Fremantle to Alexandria
Date of Return 30 Jun 1918 ‒ 24 Aug 1918
Ship Returned On HMAT A61 Kanowna
Fate Returned to Australia
Monument Jarrahdale Honour Roll
ANZAC Memorial Park (Byford)
Medals 1914-15 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal

Pre War

War Service

Three weeks after entering camp John was fined 5 shillings (50 cents) for being AWOL - period not stated. He was an inaugural member of the 11th Battalion, and after training, he travelled with them as part of the 1st Convoy to Egypt.

Embarked on the HMAT A23 Suffolk for Gallipoli on 2 Mar 1915. As a member of the 11th Battalion, he was one of the first ashore as part of the 'cover force'.

On 4 Sep 1915 he had reported to the 1st Australian Field Ambulance with teeth problems. They in turn passed him to the 2nd Australian Field Ambulance on 13 Sep 1915 and the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station where it was decided to admit him to a hospital ship for Mudross where he was assessed by the 25th Casualty Clearing Station. At Mudross he was embarked on HMHS Formosa for Port Said with debility and pyrexia. On arrival he was transferred to Heliopolis, Cairo where he was admitted to the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital on 21 Sep 1915.

No mention is made of him returning to Gallipoli. No entry in his records between 21 Sep 1915 and 1 Apr 1916 when John was admitted to the 4th Australian Auxiliary Hospital in Abbassia with mumps, remaining with them until 10 Apr 1916.

In France on 28 Aug 1916 he was attached to the 1st Australian Division HQs for traffic duties after returning to the 11th Battalion from hospital on 30 July.

Appointed Lance Corporal on 3 Dec 1916, he was then promoted Corporal on 20 Apr 1917. Ten days later he was again in hospital and on 14 May 1917 he boarded the HS Stad Antwerpen at Calais for England where he was admitted to the Kitchener Military Hospital with influenza. Released to the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital from 29 May 1917 until 25 Jun 1917 when he is sent to Weymouth to build his strength.

Well again, on 10 Nov 1917 he again embarked for France from Southampton, rejoining the 11th Battalion on 20 Nov 1917 at Courset, north east of Étaples where they were retraining and building strength. Warned to be returning to the front line in early March 1918, on 28 Feb 1918 John reported ill to hospital.

On 14 Mar 1918 John was evacuated to England aboard the HMAT A69 Warilda, and on 15 Mar 1918 he was admitted to the Reading War Hospital with Trench Fever. On 28 Mar 1918 he had recovered enought to be released to the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital in Dartford, Kent after a period of furlough from 4 - 13 Jun 1918. Remained with the 3rd AAH until 30 Jun 1918.

Discharged on 18 Sep 1918 at 5th Military District.

Following his return to Australia, Miss Dolly Inch of 174 High street, Elgin in Scotland wrote to the authorities seeking John's address. Discharged on 18 Sep 1918 at 5th Military District.

Post War

John married Jean Buchanan Sherrard during 1919 in Perth, and they lived at 53 Walcott street, North Perth. John's occupation was given as french polisher.

In 1931 they appeared on the roll for 41 Banole avenue, Armadale, Victoria; 1943 at 210 High street, Prahran, Victoria.

In 1949 Jean is alone at 210 High street, Prahran and by 1977 Jean had down sized to 17/672 Malvern road Prahran; 1980 at 2/55 Ryley street, Wangaratta.

A son John Robert was born 14 Jan 1921 and he served in the 2nd AIF, joining in the field in Papua with Reg No. VX.148254.


External Links