Captain Walter John Jackson Coats

Biography of Captain Walter John Jackson Coats

Walter Coats was born on the 20th of April 1891 to Helen Graham and John Jackson Coats, a local solicitor. Following his schooling at Glasgow Academy and Fettes College, Coats came to the University of Glasgow in 1909. During his studies he continued to live at home at 27 Woodside Place, as did his three brothers – all of whom also studied at the University.

After two years of general study of Latin, Maths, and Logic, Coats followed in his father and older brother’s footsteps by studying Law. Coats evidently possessed a highly capable legal mind: in each of his four years studying Law he won at least one prize. He celebrated his 23rd birthday by graduating BL, on the 20th April 1914. Following his graduation he was apprenticed to McGrigor, Donald and Co. solicitors.

Coats enlisted as a Lieutenant with the 1st/9th Highland Light Infantry in 1914. During this time he enjoyed training other soldiers, particularly when it came to bayonet practice, "it is a cherry thing to teach and I think they rather like it". With the Highland Light Infantry he fought at the Battles of Neuve-Chapelle, Loos, Arras, the Third Battle of Ypres and the Somme. He was lucky to survive: at the Somme in the Battle of High Wood over 800 soldiers were killed and on another occasion a shell fell in front of him but failed to detonate.

In late 1916 he goes to Divisional Staff School and in 1917 became Staff Captain with the 100th Infantry Brigade Staff. Coats struggled with the decision, it was a comparatively safer position but he still felt loyal his old battalion. He was awarded the Military Cross in June 1917.

It was only in May 1919 that Coats left France, having worked in various staff jobs following the Armistice of November 1918. He returned to Glasgow to work for the family law firm of AJ & A Graham, where he became a senior partner. Coats was a member of the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow for almost 50 years, and served on its Council. He died in August 1969, aged 77.

Coats was a great writer and his letters and post-war diary have been compiled by Jan Chojecki and Michael LoCicero into a book, We Are All Flourishing (Helion & Company, 2016).


Captain Walter John Jackson Coats
Rank: Captain
Regiment: 9th Highland Light Infantry
Degree: BL
Awards: Military Cross, Mentioned in Despatches
Comments: N/A
Note/Press Clipping: N/A
Photo ID: N/A


College Courant obituary (CC/43/1969, p.56)

Information supplied by Jan Chojecki.

Fettes College Roll of Honour

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