Sir Arthur William COLES

COLES, Arthur William

Service Number: 75
Enlisted: 17 August 1914
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 6th Infantry Battalion
Born: Newtown, Geelong, Victoria, 6 August 1892
Home Town: Wilmot, Kentish, Tasmania
Schooling: Geelong College, Victoria
Occupation: Storeman
Died: Kew, Victoria, 23 June 1982, aged 89 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Springvale Garden of Remembrance & Crematorium, Victoria
Memorials: Geelong College WW1 Roll of Honour, Kentish Municipality Honour Roll Mural, Municipality of Kentish Honour Roll
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World War 1 Service

17 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 75, 6th Infantry Battalion
19 Oct 1914: Involvement Private, SN 75, 6th Infantry Battalion
19 Oct 1914: Embarked Private, SN 75, 6th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Hororata, Melbourne

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Biography contributed by Daryl Jones

COLES, Sir Arthur William (1892-1982)

Born on 6 August 1892 at Geelong, he became a member of the Geelong College Council from 1937 and the longest serving Chairman of the Council from 1939 to 1969. He has been one of the College's great leaders and benefactors. The son of George Coles and his wife Elizabeth Malcolm Scouler, Arthur attended Geelong College in 1904.

Two brothers, James Scouler Coles (1888-1916) and David Henry Coles (1894-1917) also attended the School. Both were killed in World War I. Like his brothers, Arthur Coles ‘served in the First World War and, after enlisting as a private, fought at Gallipoli and in France. After being wounded three times, he received his lieutenant's commission and returned to Australia in 1919' .

After his return, Arthur Coles joined his uncle and two brothers in opening the first of the stores that were to become the Coles marketing chain. After the Coles Company was established in 1921, he helped build up the company and in 1928 he opened a Sydney store, which he managed for three years. During the years 1931-44, Coles was Managing Director of the Coles Company. In 1938 Coles was elected Lord Mayor of Melbourne, having served as a Councillor for several years previously. He held the position for three terms until 1940, when he resigned to take up a seat in Parliament. In 1940 he ran for and won the seat of Henty (Victoria) as an independent. In 1941 he was one of two Independents who held the balance of power in the House of Representatives, and whose decision to vote against the Government toppled the Fadden Ministry.

Coles retired from the Coles Company in 1944, after becoming the Chairman of the Commonwealth Rationing Commission and the War Damage Commission. After completing the work of these two commissions, he resigned from Federal Parliament to chair the British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines and the Australian National Airlines Commission. In 1952 he was appointed Chairman of the Melbourne Olympic Games Committee, from which he resigned in 1953. In 1956, Coles was appointed a part-time member of the Executive and Advisory Councils of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, from which he retired in 1965.

Coles married Lillian Knight in 1919, and had three sons and three daughters. He was knighted in 1960 and died in 1982.

The papers of Sir Arthur Coles were donated by his wife, Lady Coles, to the National Library after his death in 1982. The collection includes letters to Sir Arthur, news cutting books and loose cuttings, photographs, programmes, invitations, menus and various pamphlets collected by Sir Arthur. The papers relate to his period as Lord Mayor of Melbourne, his term as a Member of the House of Representatives, and his involvement with the War Damage Commission, the Commonwealth Rationing Commission, the British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines, the National Australian Airlines Commission, and the C.S.I.R.O. A recorded interview with Sir Arthur is available from the Oral History Section of the National Library.’

Sir Arthur was also a dedicated supporter of the Old Collegians’ Association as member of the Committee and its President in 1938-39. He was awarded the distinction of being elected the first Fellow of the Association. He was a generous benefactor to the College particularly to the South Wing of the Cloisters as a memorial to his two brothers. His portrait by Sir William Dargie is displayed in the Senior School Dining Hall. Coles House is named after him. A son, Arthur Thomas Coles (1926-1997), also attended Geelong College.

In 2011, Sir Arthur Coles was inducted into the Old Geelong Collegians' Association (OGCA) Notables Gallery.

Source : The Geelong College -