Captain Joseph Michael Smith Coates .
J.M.S. Coates O.B.E, Machine Gun Corps WW1.
Joseph Michael Smith Coates was born in Sunderland on 5th June 1891 and was the sixth successive son of Stephen Coates and his wife the former Catherine Ann Allison.The family moved to Ellison Place in Newcastle in 1893 and then to rented accommodation in Rothbury Terrace and later a house purchased in Simonside Terrace. Joseph attended school at Dame Allens in Jesmond. In 1907 the family moved to Burton-upon-Trent for his fathers work. In 1911 Joseph started work to study to become a chartered accountant and was articled with the accountancy firm of Holt & Co in Liverpool. His concentrated study was crowned with success in January 1914 when he passed his intermediate exam. His period of articles was interrupted when he was transferred to the London office of the London Victoria Insurance Company.
On 15th March 1915 Joseph joined the Honorable Artillery Company as a Private. Soon he was posted to No2 Company of the Second Battalion attached to the machine-gun training school at Grantham. Joseph received a commission and by the end of the war had attained the rank of Captain. He served in France with the 175th Machine Gun Company at Armentieres and Vimy Ridge. He was awarded an O.B.E. (Military Division) in 1919.
On returning to England he recommenced his studies and passed his final exam, whilst still carrying out his military duties, at Shorncliffe in May 1919 and was demobbed in June. He married Lilian W Murray in August 1919 and had two sons, Geoffrey Norman born 1922 and Michael Arthur born 1924 . Unable to secure employment with his pre-war employer he returned to Newcastle and gained a position at Monkhouse Goddard & Co, Mosley St, which was taken over a year later by Price Waterhouse. Four years after the takeover Joseph became a junior partner in the Newcastle firm. He became a senior partner in 1948 and remained with Price Waterhouse for the rest of his working life, officially retiring in 1959.
J.M.S. Coates lived at Elmfield in Wylam during World War 2 and was a Captain in the 5th Battalion Northumberland Home Guard and was given command of the Wylam Home Guard with headquarters at Heddon on the Wall. His son Michael also served in the Home Guard before joining the Royal Artillery and saw active service in the Middle East and Italy. Geoffrey joined the Rifle Brigade and spent four years in North Africa and Italy being severely wounded in battle near Naples. Almost no weaponry was available to the Home Guard in those early days, but a vast number of denim uniforms was issued to replace the civilian gear in which the first volunteers had to go on parade and guard duty. Joseph turned the maids sitting room at Elmfield into the equivalent of a quartermaster's store, and Michael was allotted the fatigue of fitting out the stream of recruits who arrived in the evenings of the hot summer of 1940 to be issued their khaki kit. It very quickly became apparent that the average size of the outfits was considerably larger than the average size of the volunteers. If a suitable fit where bestowed upon the first half of those who presented themselves the remaining half would be given denims that where about 12 inches too long or too voluminous, so Michael devised a system whereby everyone was issued with garments rather too large, leaving it to wives and girlfriends to shorten the trousers, pull in the waists and make other adjustments as to make the gear wearable.
In his private life - his Masonic interests from his initiation in 1928 were soon to make increased demands on his time. In 1948 he held office as Grand Treasurer for the united Grand Lodge of England, and Provincial Grand Master of Northumberland for 24 years from 1952 until 1976. This period raised over £1,000,000 for masonic charities.
If you have any information on Joseph Michael Smith Coates or anyone who served in the Northumberland Home Guard, Newcastle Battalions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org