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Charles Rosenthal Information

Charles Rosenthal

Place of birth: Berrima, New South Wales
Place of death: Green Point, New South Wales
Allegiance: Australia
Service/branch: Australian Army
Years of service: 1892-1937
Rank: Major General
Battles/wars: World War I
Gallipoli Campaign
Western Front
Battle of the Somme
Battle of Pozix¨res
Battle of Mouquet Farm
Battle of Hamel
Battle of Mont St. Quentin
Awards: Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George
Distinguished Service Order
Mention in Despatches (7)

World War I

Gallipoli Campaign
Western Front
Battle of the Somme
Battle of Pozix¨res
Battle of Mouquet Farm
Battle of Hamel
Battle of Mont St. Quentin

Major General Sir Charles Rosenthal KCB, CMG, DSO, VD (12 February 1875 - 11 May 1954) was an Australian Major General of World War I, and later a politician elected as a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly.

Early life

Rosenthal was born in Berrima, New South Wales to a Danish-born school master and Swedish-born mother. He trained as an architect and was elected associate of the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects in 1895. He became a draughtsman in the architectural division of the Department of Railways and Public Works in Perth. After becoming bankrupt and ill he returned to the eastern states in 1899. In 1906 he was made architect for the Anglican Diocese of Grafton and Armidale. He designed St Andrew's, Lismore, New South Wales, St Laurence's, Barraba, and Holy Trinity, Dulwich Hill, Sydney.


Rosenthal joined the Australian Imperial Force in August 1914 and sailed with the first convoy as lieutenant-colonel commanding the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade. In 1892 Rosenthal joined the Geelong Battery of the Victorian Militia Garrison Artillery as a gunner. In 1903 he was commissioned second lieutenant in the Militia Garrison Artillery. He transferred to the Australian Field Artillery in 1908 where he was promoted as major. In 1914 he became commanding officer of the 5th Field Artillery Brigade. Thus before the war he was established as a soldier as well as a professional architect.

Rosenthal was at the Gallipoli landing on 25 April 1915. He was twice wounded at Gallipoli, the second wound causing him to be evacuated to England in August 1915. He returned to Egypt when the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) was expanding and given command of the artillery of the new 4th Division and was promoted Brigadier General in February 1916. He was engaged in the heavy fighting on the Somme, at Pozix¨res and Mouquet Farm and at Ypres in Belgium. He was wounded a third time in December 1916.

On 22 May 1918 Rosenthal was appointed to command the 2nd Division and promoted Major General. He took part in the attack at Hamel. He was wounded for a fourth time in 1918 by a sniper when on daylight reconnaissance. He returned to duty in August and was involved in the Battle of Mont St. Quentin.

Rosenthal was appointed Companion of the Bath (C.B.) (1915), Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (C.M.G.) (1917), and Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (K.C.B.) (1919), was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (1918) and was Mentioned in Despatches seven times. He was also awarded the Belgian Croix de guerre (1917), the French Croix de guerre (1918) and the Légion d'honneur (1919).

Rosenthal went to England in March 1919 to command all the depots of the A.I.F. during the repatriation of the troops. He returned to Australia in January 1920.

After the war Rosenthal contemplated not returning to the profession of architecture but did so while leading an active public life. From 1921-26 and also 1932-37 he was commander of the 2nd Division, Australian Military Forces. He served as an alderman of Sydney Municipal Council in 1921-24 and was chairman of its works committee. He was also a Nationalist Party of Australia member for Bathurst in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in 1922-25 and a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council in 1936-37. He was twice president of the Institute of Architects of New South Wales in 1926-30 and was also president of the federal council of the Australian Institutes of Architects in 1925-28. He also served as president of the Australian Museum, Sydney.

In 1930, during the Great Depression in Australia, he was (again) declared bankrupt.

In 1937 Rosenthal accepted the post of administrator of Norfolk Island which he governed throughout World War II until 1945. Among other activities he raised a volunteer infantry unit.

In popular culture

Rosenthal may have been a part-model for the authoritarian ex-soldiers' leader Benjamin Cooley in D. H. Lawrence's novel, Kangaroo (London, 1923). Rosenthal had been founding secretary in 1921 and later president of The King and Empire Alliance, with which Robert Darroch asserts D.H. Lawrence had been in contact, probably through W. J. R. Scott. It has also been alleged that Rosenthal was involved with the Old Guard, a secret anti-communist militia, set up by the Bruce government.


"Major General Sir Charles Rosenthal". Australian Defence Force Academy. 2002. Retrieved 2007-09-05.
Duffy, Michael (2002). "Sir Charles Rosenthal". Who's Who. Retrieved 2007-09-05.
Hill, A.J. (1988). "Rosenthal, Sir Charles (1875 - 1954)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 2007-09-05.

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