Who's Who - Sir Charles Rosenthal

Sir Charles Rosenthal (1875-1954) served as commander of the Australian 2nd Division during the last seven months of World War One.

A successful architect - but a poor businessman: he suffered the first of two bankruptcies during the late 1880s - prior to the outbreak of war in August 1914 Rosenthal was also an occasional soldier.  He enlisted with the army in 1892 but resigned following a move to Melbourne; he received a commission however to the Garrison Artillery in January 1903.

The First World War war began with Rosenthal in command of 5th Field Brigade Australian Artillery with the rank of Major.  He served, along with his colleagues in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF), in Gallipoli (via Egypt).  His relationship with his commander, William Bridges, was however fraught with disagreements; Bridges proved a notably more cautious commander than the invariably optimistic Rosenthal.

During 1915 Rosenthal was twice wounded at Gallipoli before being transferred in June 1916 to the Western Front.  He was appointed artillery commander of 4th Division (with a promotion to Colonel and temporary Brigadier-General) and served during the Battle of the Somme, during the course of which he received a further wound, partly on account of his tendency to pay repeated visits to the front lines.  This behaviour was further responsible for his being gassed at Passchendaele in October 1917.

May 1918 brought Rosenthal notable promotion to Major-General with command of 2nd Division (having served as temporary commander of 1st Division for a month in January/February 1918), during the course of which he was wounded once again, temporarily  leading his division from a hospital bed until Australian commander Sir John Monash intervened.

Recovering from a brief convalescence in August 1918 Rosenthal served throughout the crucial late summer battles on the Western Front, and included the significant capture of Mont St. Quentin.

After the armistice Rosenthal was knighted in the New Year's honours list of 1919.  He was appointed commander of AIF Depots in Britain from March-November 1919 after which he returned to Australia.

He led 2nd Division from 1921-26 and again from 1932-37, although he also concerned himself with rebuilding his architectural practice.  He studied law for a period at the University of Melbourne and acted as alderman of the Sydney Municipal Council from 1921-24.

Elected as a Nationalist member of the New South Wales legislative assembly from 1922-25 he was also a later member of the Legislative Council (1936-37).  From 1926-30 Rosenthal served as president of the New South Wales Institute of Architects and was also a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

In 1930 Rosenthal was declared bankrupt for a second time, his business interests having collapsed.  Seven years later, in 1937, he was appointed Administrator of Norfolk Island, a post he held until 1945; and during the Second World War he organised an infantry unit.  He finally returned to his home in Sydney in 1948, where he retired.

He died on 11 May 1954 at the age of 79 in Sydney and was cremated with full military honours.

Ack Ack was a term used to describe anti-aircraft fire.

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