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Rothschild's in the Great War – Rothschild brothers with the Royal

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Brian Berman

Hi all of you.

 

I will be presenting a review of a book (in English to and English speakers' History Book Club lunch) about a UK boy solider in the 39th, who apparently was the Aide de Camp to JdeR, and involvement in the smuggling of arms to the Jewish underground in 1918 and 1919!

The role of JdeR is explicit (but disguised) in the private papers that form the basis for this book.

If any of you are here, you are welcome to join us for the lunch as I will discuss what I have found out about JdeR - and all the family connections related to his service.  6th Jauanry 12:30 Mandarin Restaurant, Raanana Park -- 100 shekels lunch+tip.  All contributions during the Q&A will be very welcome.  BUT, please let me know if you intend to attend.

Much thanks Terry.

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FROGSMILE
1 hour ago, Brian Berman said:

Much thanks.  Very helpful.  Any idea why the 39th (and obviously the 37th .to. 42nd) were not demobbed until sometime in 1919 (when?),  The War as over even thought Versailles was not yet "done".  So why keep them in place?

 

Were there 38th "skirmishes" in Egypt at or near Karna?

 

Re the DCM - very puzzling:  speculation from other "historical" sources and private papers is that he was Liasion (*) (and more) with "irregular forces" in Palestine, acting against the Ottomans. It would be interesting t know if he actually saw action with the battalion he was assigned to!

 

(*)  the Photo form Wikipedia his liaison role was already in early 1918 with the Commission was in Israel, while his recruitment efforts. NOT only in Israel, but also for boy soldier volunteers in schools the London East end, appear to have been also in early 1918.


What do you mean by ‘boy soldiers’?  That term had a formal meaning in the British Army of that time (a limited number of enlistees per battalion between the school leaving age (14) and 17, specifically to fill apprentice type roles in the band, corps of drums, tailors and shoemakers shops, during WW1 they remained at the regimental depot) and should not be confused with underage recruits who had falsified their date of birth to masquerade as adult soldiers. 

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FROGSMILE
51 minutes ago, Brian Berman said:

Hi all of you.

 

I will be presenting a review of a book (in English to and English speakers' History Book Club lunch) about a UK boy solider in the 39th, who apparently was the Aide de Camp to JdeR, and involvement in the smuggling of arms to the Jewish underground in 1918 and 1919!

The role of JdeR is explicit (but disguised) in the private papers that form the basis for this book.

If any of you are here, you are welcome to join us for the lunch as I will discuss what I have found out about JdeR - and all the family connections related to his service.  6th Jauanry 12:30 Mandarin Restaurant, Raanana Park -- 100 shekels lunch+tip.  All contributions during the Q&A will be very welcome.  BUT, please let me know if you intend to attend.

Much thanks Terry.

 
Aides de camp were junior officers assigned to general officers. I suspect that you are referring to a sharp witted teenage batman.  Military terminology is important and it’s misuse, unintended though it no doubt is, can cause confusion for readers.

Edited by FROGSMILE

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KizmeRD

Brian,

Not 100% sure where you're coming from, but FYI only the 38th, 39th & 40th Battalions RF were sent out to Palestine.

The 38th being the first to form up and ship out were the main ones to experience proper front line action (although some 350 men of the 39th did arrive in time to reinforce 'Patterson's Column' during the Battle of Megiddo).

The 38th arrived at the front towards the end of June 1918 and took up a position in the middle of the British lines  as part of the 31st Infantry Brigade.

The 'skirmishes' you refer to probably relate to enemy patrolling, several of which resulted in significant firefights with the Turks. Then ahead of Allenby's offensive they transferred to the Jordan River, at the extreme East of the line to become part of Chaytor's Force (together with the BWIR).

As regards de Rothschild's specific duties - he was used by Allenby in a political role (due to his knowledge and connections with the Zionist cause). He recruited over 1,000 local Jewish volunteers into the 40th Bn. soon after arriving in Palestine and as previously mention, he was also employed as a liaison officer to the Zionist Commission (working alongside Ormsby-Gore).

Regards,

Michael

 

Edited by KizmeRD

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Brian Berman

Replies to all of your from yesterday and today  ... All super-helpful.

  1. "boy" soldiers. Well this biography is about a boy (13+) recruited from school, with falsified age claim, goes to Egypt already with 2nd Lieutenant rank
  2. "Aide d' Camp" or "batman" - who knows, but a 2nd Lieutenant as a batman?  It is clear that he was seen as doing stuff only for JdeR, but exactly when this began is hidden in the personal papers because of the arms smuggling activities. 
  3. "skirmishes" - no mention in his papers of being on the Megiddo front - but he and the 39th were definitely in Kantara (guarding?) the rail-head according to family papers.  so, could there have been skirmishes there?  This biography (by his grandson) mentions a saber would in his neck from such a skirmish.
  4. JedR -- are there sources for what his role was with Allenby, other than the fact that he was sent to the Zionist Commission as a liaison to the Army, along with O-G.
  5. The biography describes (perhaps fiction perhaps "grandpa tales") of a tall, "posh" Jewish recruitment speaker encouraging the schoolboys and others from Whitechappel to volunteer for the Jewish Legion in 1918, mentioning Trumpeldor and others.  We already know that there had been successful LOndon East End recruitment into the 38th in 1917.  The description in the biography can only be of JdeR.  Fact or fiction or "grey area" for his recruitment role in the London East End in 1918.  I find strange that many sources mention of his "recruitment role in Palestine" - he, as far as I can find out, did not speak Hebrew.  Why him? There were plenty of other "local = Palestine" persuaders.
  6. From the personal papers it is clear that JdR was in Cairo continuously from April 1918 and well into 1919.  If and when he went into Palestine it must have been for short visits.  Any sources on this?

Much Much thanks again

 

PS: "Guns for Judea" by J.W. Yanowitz - available on Amazon.  The author has sent me photocopies of some of the personal papers, which are reproduced in the text (not as photo) in the book.

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KizmeRD

Hello again Brian,

2/Lt. Hyman Wolfensohn served as an aide (not ADC) to JdeR in Palastine. He graduated from the City of London school aged 14 and then worked for his father's company for a couple of years before enrolling to study medicine at St. Thomas' Hospital, however he soon left to enrol in the 39th Bn. RF. upon its foundation. After the war he continued to work as private secretary to JdeR at his banking firm. 

See photos, he does indeed look very young!

Michael

 

image.jpeg

image.jpeg

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KizmeRD

On 8 March 1919, the British arrested Saad Zaghlu (an important leader of the Egyptian independence movement). In response Egyptians began to demand an end to British rule and there were incidents of rioting and some attacks on railheads. This might possibly be the 'skirmishes' you keep referring to. (At that point in time, Kantara was being used as a transit camp for soldiers being demobbed).

Michael

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Brian Berman

Thanks - both answers clarify ... nevertheless as in all things historical  more questions arise.

 

Batman/Aide

Regarding the "big picture above" - who is who I what row?  I counted 4th row as the back row where Wolfensohn would have been standing 3rd from the left.  His age fits someone who lefty school at 14 and worked for a few years, and enlisted at the legal age. 

 

The guy who was his batman (I just found that part of the book) I think is middle front row, unnamed, as his face is exactly the picture on the book cover by his grandson, and looks just 15 years old.

 

The difference between Aide de Camp and batman is clarified, thanks. "my guy" was the batman .... 

 

 interesting that a modern day Wolfensohn was an Australian/ American who set up an Investment Bank in New York, and was appointed by Clinton to be head of the World Bank  (and my ex-boss!).. And the Wikipedia article about him says !!!!

'His father was a "highly intelligent but failed businessman" who had previously worked for the Rothschild banking family.  Wolfensohn's parents arrived in Australia in 1928. He was named after James Armand de Rothschild, his father's former employer, whose birthday he shared.'

 

Skirmishes:

Thanks - today too, I found the place-of-references for the skirmish/saber wound - in the Jordan Valley just ahead of the Battle of Megiddo, against lone Turkish soldiers on reconnaissance at the 39th encampment periphery.

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FROGSMILE
4 hours ago, Brian Berman said:

Replies to all of your from yesterday and today  ... All super-helpful.

  1. "boy" soldiers. Well this biography is about a boy (13+) recruited from school, with falsified age claim, goes to Egypt already with 2nd Lieutenant rank
  2. "Aide d' Camp" or "batman" - who knows, but a 2nd Lieutenant as a batman?  It is clear that he was seen as doing stuff only for JdeR, but exactly when this began is hidden in the personal papers because of the arms smuggling activities. 
  3. "skirmishes" - no mention in his papers of being on the Megiddo front - but he and the 39th were definitely in Kantara (guarding?) the rail-head according to family papers.  so, could there have been skirmishes there?  This biography (by his grandson) mentions a saber would in his neck from such a skirmish.
  4. JedR -- are there sources for what his role was with Allenby, other than the fact that he was sent to the Zionist Commission as a liaison to the Army, along with O-G.
  5. The biography describes (perhaps fiction perhaps "grandpa tales") of a tall, "posh" Jewish recruitment speaker encouraging the schoolboys and others from Whitechappel to volunteer for the Jewish Legion in 1918, mentioning Trumpeldor and others.  We already know that there had been successful LOndon East End recruitment into the 38th in 1917.  The description in the biography can only be of JdeR.  Fact or fiction or "grey area" for his recruitment role in the London East End in 1918.  I find strange that many sources mention of his "recruitment role in Palestine" - he, as far as I can find out, did not speak Hebrew.  Why him? There were plenty of other "local = Palestine" persuaders.
  6. From the personal papers it is clear that JdR was in Cairo continuously from April 1918 and well into 1919.  If and when he went into Palestine it must have been for short visits.  Any sources on this?

Much Much thanks again

 

PS: "Guns for Judea" by J.W. Yanowitz - available on Amazon.  The author has sent me photocopies of some of the personal papers, which are reproduced in the text (not as photo) in the book.


Brian, I do/did not mean to decry your research in any way.  Clearly a young commissioned officer (Lieutenant you said) aged 13 or 14 is a minor, but he is not a ‘boy soldier’, which has a specific meaning, and it would be misleading to say that he was.  He was an underage junior officer (if a lieutenant).  As a junior staff officer to a Lt Col he would correctly be described as an adjutant, or aide, terms that like ADC, have origins in military lingua Franca.  You can write an equally good history with the use of correct British military terminology that runs no chance of misleading.  I wish you well with it.

 

NB.  All those in your group photo, with the lone exception perhaps of the figure at top right corner, are wearing the uniform of commissioned officers.

Edited by FROGSMILE

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KizmeRD

Brian, I still don't believe you fully appreciate the terms you are currently using. A batman would be an ordinary soldier responsible for keeping his officer's kit in good order (i.e. a manservant). Your chap was not a batman but rather he was an aide (i.e. a sort of personal assistant to a middle ranking officer who was usually responsible for doing some sort of staff work).  Hyman Wolfensohn was a junior officer, a second lieutenant, and the caption cleary indicates that he is the young officer sitting crossed legged in the middle of the front row. Given the fact that he got his school leaving certificate at 14 and then worked a couple of years before becoming a medical student, he was probably no younger than 17 when he joined up (i.e. nevertheless still making him an under age recruit who ordinarily would have had to have been 19 before being eligible to serve overseas - had he told the truth about his real date of birth).

Frustratingly, we don't really know enough about JdeR's exact role, but we can assume that it was something political/intelligence related. What we do know was that he was a first rate linguist, and according to Frederic Morton in his book on the Rothchilds, he also spoke fluent Hebrew. That would have made him an ideal candidate to recruit additional manpower from amoungst the Palestinian Jews.

Michael

Edited by KizmeRD

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Brian Berman

Guys - again thanks!

 

The book is written by an American. he used the term "batman" but his grandfather's activities were clearly not that of a "batman" but also not that of an Adjutant.  I am going to stick to the term "batman".

 

However the labeling of the photography is troubling.  He little guy in the front row is definitively "my guy" and not H. Wolfensohn.  Also his grandson having viewed the second photograph you sent me says that is grandfather.

 

Then there is the strict hierarchy of such group photographs, which when you place a 1st Lieutenant in the front row sitting, cross-legged, on the ground is "just not done" especially when the supposedly  2nd Lt's are all standing "tall and proud" in the back row.   So from this "sociology",  Wolfenshon must be in the middle back row as he is a 1st Lieutenant. 

 

But the labeling is possibly even further off. 

 

The Commanding Officer MUST be front and center and seated.  But, according to the labeling, Margolin is standing in the third row.  Only if the rows now labeled 2nd and 3rd row, are reversed, then the labeling of all 4 rows make social and military hierarchy protocol correct.  So, is the clearly officer, center in the 2nd row, Margolin?

 

Here is the pic of him I found on the internet - match to the Officer in the center of row 2, or the Officer as labeled, in row 3? 

fusilierseliezermargolin.jpg

 

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FROGSMILE

‘Row 1’ would ordinarily comprise the front row of crossed legged junior subalterns, but the number of sitters does not add up.  For some reason the newspaper printer has reversed the usual sequence, which is confusing matters.

 
If you stick with ‘batman’ as a term you will be categorically in error, as such a man is a British military servant specifically selected from those of private rank, i.e. in American  parlance, an ‘enlisted man’.  Clearly a commissioned junior officer does not qualify and is an aide, as has been correctly pointed out by Michael.

 

From facial features alone your man looks to me to be in the middle of row 2 (i.e. second row from the front).

Edited by FROGSMILE

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