Alan Cordner

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Alan Cordner
Private Joseph Allen Cordner.jpeg
Private J.A. Cordner (from a Red Cross file)
Personal information
Full name Joseph Alan Cordner
Date of birth (1890-05-06)6 May 1890
Place of birth Bridgewater On Loddon
Date of death 25 April 1915(1915-04-25) (aged 24)
Place of death Gallipoli, Turkey
Original team(s) Hamilton
Height 183 cm (6 ft 0 in)
Weight 80 kg (176 lb)
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1911–12 Geelong 3 (0)
1913–14 Collingwood 20 (2)
Total 23 (2)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1914.
Sources: AFL Tables,

Joseph Alan Cordner (6 May 1890 – 25 April 1915) was an Australian rules footballer who played with Geelong and Collingwood in the Victorian Football League (VFL).

He was killed at Cape Helles in Turkey during the initial invasion of the Gallipoli peninsula by the forces of the First AIF (Australian Imperial Force) on 25 April 1915.[1]


The son of Isaiah Joseph Cordner (1860–1934), a bank manager, and Jessie Cordner (1865-1901), née Walker, he was born at on 6 May 1890 at Bridgewater On Loddon, Victoria. His father remarried Mabel Emilie McKay (1860–1969) in 1902. He had one full brother, Edward Clement Cordner (1892–1943), three half-brothers and one half-sister.[citation needed]

He attended the Hamilton and Western District Boys' College from 1902 to 1906, and was a prefect in 1905 and school captain in 1906.[2]


As a schoolboy he was renowned for his long drop-kicks and his very strong marks.[citation needed]

Recruited from Warrnambool, he played his first senior VFL match, aged 21, for Geelong, against Carlton, at Princes Park, on Saturday, 19 August 1911 (round sixteen). He was given the single game to gauge his prospects for the 1912 season; he played well for Geelong in a high standard match, which Carlton won in the last quarter.[3]

Although he played well in Geelong's first match of the season,[4] he was not selected again until the match against University on 8 June 1912 (round eight). On a very windy day, with a bad football (it had been over-inflated), and in a very low standard game, which Geelong eventually won by 37 points, 8.15 (63) to 3.8 (26), he was not amongst Geelong's best players.[5]

Cleared from Geelong to Collingwood on 9 April 1913,[6] he played his first senior game for Collingwood, at Victoria Park, against Carlton, on 17 May 1913 (round four); he played well, in the backline, in a Collingwood team that won a hard-fought match by six points.[7] In 1913 he played a total of ten senior games (of a possible nineteen) for Collingwood, including its Semi-Final 37-point loss to Fitzroy on 13 September 1913. He injured his collar-bone during the match, which was played in the rain, on a very wet and muddy ground. He remained on the field of play once injured, but was of little use.[8]

His half brother Laurence Osmaston "Larry" Cordner (1911–1992), and two of his cousins, Dr. Henry "Harry" Cordner (1885–1943) and Dr. Edward Rae "Ted" Cordner (1887–1963), also played senior VFL football. Dr "Ted" was the father of the Don Cordner, Dennis Cordner, Ted Cordner and John Cordner who all played for Melbourne in the 1940s.[citation needed]


In 1914 he was working as a clerk, but he enlisted in Melbourne on 22 August 1914; the same day that he played his last match for Collingwood.[9] He was the first Collingwood footballer to enlist.[10] He served as a private in B Company of the 6th Battalion, First AIF, and embarked on 19 October 1914, aboard HMAT Hororata, for service overseas.[citation needed]

His brother, Sergeant Edward Clement Cordner (89), enlisted on 18 May 1914, serving in the 13 Light Horse.[11] His cousin, Captain Edward Rae "Ted" Cordner, served as a medical officer in the 6th Field Ambulance.[12] His other cousin, Dr. Henry "Harry" Cordner, overseas at the time that war broke out, was commissioned as an officer in the Royal Army Medical Corps, and served in France.[13]


He died on 25 April 1915, shot some four miles inland, after being cut off by the Turks and becoming separated from his Battalion at Cape Helles, the rocky headland at the southwesternmost tip of the Gallipoli peninsula.[citation needed]

His body was never recovered. He was initially posted as "wounded" (in April 1915);[14] following a fruitless search of the relevant hospitals, he was posted as "wounded and missing" (in October 1915).[15] He was not officially declared to have been "killed in action" until after some twelve months of investigation had been conducted by the Red Cross.[16][17]

In an apparent act of kindness, the final declaration of his death was conveyed to his mother and father by the Reverend Thomas Pearse Bennett, the vicar of Christ Church, Warrnambool. Pearse, who was also an Anglican military chaplain,[18] had received the news by wire, that Cordner had been declared "killed in action", along with "expressions of sympathy with the deceased's parents from the King and Government", and took the news immediately to Cordner's parents at the Warrnambool National Bank.[19]


He is commemorated at the Lone Pine Memorial, on the Gallipoli Peninsula; his name is located at panel 46 in the Commemorative Area of the Australian War Memorial.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Despite various suggestions given over time, related to particular individuals, it is clear that at least six former VFL footballers were killed during the chaos of the landing at Anzac CoveRupert Balfe (University, Alan Cordner (Geelong and Collingwood), Claude Crowl (St Klda), Charlie Fincher (South Melbourne), Fen McDonald (Carlton and Melbourne), and Joe Pearce (Melbourne) — it can never be definitively argued that one of these men was "the first VFL footballer killed in the First World War".
  2. ^ Main and Allen (2002), p. 44.
  3. ^ Carlton Beats Geelong, The Argus, (Monday 21 August 1911), p. 4.]
  4. ^ Carlton in Fine Form, The Argus, (Monday, 29 April 1912), p.11.
  5. ^ Poor Game at Geelong: University's Weak Forwards, The Argus, (Monday, 10 June 1912), p. 5.
  6. ^ Football: Permit Applications (J. A. Cordner, Geelong to Collingwood), The Argus, (Thursday, 10 April 1913), p. 10.
  7. ^ The Argus, (Monday, 19 May 1913), p. 12.
  8. ^ Spoiled by Rain: Fitzroy in the Crush: Collingwood Comfortably Beaten, The Argus, (Monday, 15 September 1913), p. 12.
  9. ^ Note: some accounts are mistaken: he enlisted for service in Melbourne, and his signature was witnessed by a "Captain John W. Hamilton"; he did not (as some assert) enlist at Hamilton, Victoria (see Service Record p. 2).
  10. ^ See his father's comment on the AWM "Circular".
  11. ^ National Archives of Australia: World War I Service Record: Edward Clement Cordner (89)
  12. ^ World War I Nominal Roll: Cordner, Edward Rae.
  13. ^ The Argus, 29 August 1914.
  14. ^ The Argus, 25 October 1915.
  15. ^ The Brisbane Courier, 2 November 1915.
  16. ^ The Argus, 12 June 1916.
  17. ^ Lane, Daniel, "ANZAC hero Ted Larkin: The greatest sacrifice of all", The Sydney Morning Herald, (18 April 2015).
  18. ^ World War I Nominal Roll: Chaplains: Bennett, Thomas Pearse.
  19. ^ Warrnambool Standard, 3 June 1916.


External links[edit]