Premier's Anzac Memorial Scholarship



Major-General Sir Charles Rosenthal KCB, CMG, DSO, VD (AIF)


When he enlisted:

Rosenthal joined the Australian Imperial Force in August 1914 and sailed with the first convoy as lieutenant-colonel commanding the Australian 3rd Field Artillery Brigade. In 1892 Rosenthal joined the Geelong Battery of the Victoria 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.

Where he was from:

Charles Rosenthal was born on the 12th of February 1875 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.

His experience of the front:

In September 1914, Rosenthal embarked in Brisbane and sailed for Egypt with his 3d Artillery Brigade. After intensive training in Cairo he sailed for the Gallipoli peninsula, where he landed on 25 April 1915 with, as he stated, “a lack of sufficient artillery support”. He spent six months at Gallipoli, being wounded twice, and finally being evacuated to England. Next he went to the Western Front and then Egypt early In 1916. Throughout the war, Rosenthal was wounded five times, gassed once and mentioned in dispatches seven times. His tunic, with 35 shrapnel holes in it, now lies in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. In May 1918, Rosenthal was appointed as commander of the 2nd Australian Division, with the rank of Major General and 20,000 men under his command. In this position he retained his reputation as a “front line soldier”. In August 1918 the battle of Mont St Quentin began. Its capture by the 2’ Australian Division resulted in the German withdrawal back to the Hindenburg Line, and earned Rosenthal high praise from General Monash.

What happened to him?

After WWI, Rosenthal returned to Australia and commanded the newly formed peacetime 2’ Australian Division on two occasions. He also became an alderman of the City of Sydney Council, a member of the lower and upper houses of the New South Wales Government, although he did not finally retire from the army until his 62nd birthday in 1937. He was also President of the Institute of Architects of New South Wales for three years and a foundation fellow of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects. In 1944 he was made a Life Fellow.