Kevin Joseph Coghlan

June 21, 2015

COGHLAN, Kevin Joseph- – – – SPC 1908-1911

DoB:– – c1896

Father:- – William Joseph

Mother:– – Maud Agnes, nee O’Malley

Kevin Coghlan started at St Patrick’s College in the Third Class at around eight years of age in 1908. In that year he won first prize for achieving the highest result in the class. The following year he was also a prize winner.

Service No:– 12262

Rank:– – Private, Driver

Unit:– – 10th Field Ambulance

Kevin Coghlan enlisted at the age of 19 years and 2 months, on 31 July 1915. At the time, he was a student at the School of Mines in Ballarat. He was five feet four and a half inches tall, with a dark complexion, blue eyes and dark hair. He was assigned to the 10th Field Ambulance as a Private. As he was under 21 years of age, his next of kin, his sister Eily M Coghlan of 22 Errard Street North Ballarat, gave her written consent for her brother to enlist.

Prior to embarking for overseas service, Private Coghlan was AWL (Absent Without Leave) in Ballarat from noon on 4 January to midnight on 5 January 1916. He had to forfeit two days’ pay and was Confined to Barracks (CB) for three days.

Private Coghlan embarked from Melbourne aboard the Runic on 20 June 1916, bound for Southampton. Soon after his arrival in England he was hospitalised with tonsillitis. By November 1916 he was well enough to proceed overseas to France where, after being hospitalised with the mumps, he finally rejoined his unit on 26 January 1917.

While in France he was transferred from the 10th Field Ambulance to the 3rd Australian Divisional Supply Column as a motor transport driver. He had to face a Court Martial in the Field for the crime of -‘Whilst on Active Service did leave his Motor Ambulance unattended in contravention of Fourth Army Standing Order No 446.’ He was admonished by his Commanding Officer.

He was granted special leave in October 1918 to go to Paris, where he remained for five months. He rejoined his unit in March 1919, and by May of that year embarked on the Devanha for return to Australia.

Kevin Coghlan returned to Ballarat and in 1920 married Lena (Selena) Doris Whykes. Lena was born in Buninyong in 1899, to Henry Carlyon Whykes and Selena Charlton. Kevin and Lena had two sons: William John, born in Ballarat in 1921, and Robert Carlyon, born on 17 January 1923 in Ballarat. Robert enlisted in the RAAF (Service No 441371) at Perth on 24 July 1943, and was discharged on 5 June 1946.

The electoral rolls show that Kevin and Lena lived at 22 Errard Street North Ballarat, and Kevin worked as an auctioneer’s clerk, at the Stock & Station Agent firm of Coghlan & Boase.

Kevin Joseph Coghlan died on 15 December 1942, aged 42 years. He died of natural causes in his sleep, and was buried at the Ballarat Old Cemetery.

After Kevin’s death, Lena married a man named Clarke and moved to Western Australia, as did her two sons. William Coghlan died on 26 November 2006 at Nedlands, Perth. And Robert died on 3 June 1985 at Floreat Park, Perth.

There is a remarkable post-script to Kevin Coghlan’s overseas service. In the Ballarat Courier of 9 November 2013 a story was featured about two photographs with a -‘Ballarat connection’ found by the family of Jeanne Pascal after her death in Provence, France. Jeanne’s children came across these photographs, showing a young man wearing a WWI -‘Returned from Active Service’ badge, with his wife and two children. Researchers identified the toddlers as William and Robert -‘Bobby’ Coghlan. It has been established that Kevin met and befriended Jeanne while on active service and they became pen-pals, exchanging family photographs at Christmas time.

(Information courtesy The Courier, 9 Nov 2013)