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Robert Phineas Rothschild

ROTHSCHILD, ROBERT PHINEAS (1914–2000), Canadian soldier. Rothschild was born in the small town of Cochrane, Ontario. He received his secondary education in Montreal before entering the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston in 1932. Fellow students nicknamed him "the baron" though he was unrelated to the European Rothschilds; he graduated in 1936, then earned a degree at McGill University in mining engineering. In 1938, with war threatening in Europe, he joined the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery as a lieutenant. In June 1940, Rothschild landed in France as part of the First Canadian division and helped cover the British retreat at Dunkirk. He was one of the last Canadian soldiers evacuated from France to Britain five days later. He underwent further training and was promoted to major with the 5th Canadian Armoured division. He landed with the Canadian forces on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and, engaging in heavy fighting, was wounded in action in late July 1944. He returned to the fighting three weeks later, promoted to lieutenant colonel, and participated in the Canadian offensives in northern Europe. Believed to be the highest-ranking Jew in the Canadian Army at the end of World War II, he was twice mentioned in dispatches and was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire; he also was made an Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau with swords by the Dutch government in 1945.

After the war, Rothschild was appointed director of the Canadian Army Staff College in Kingston, then successfully moved through a series of major staff positions at Canadian military headquarters in Ottawa including quartermaster general of the Canadian Army. He also held several overseas postings. In 1954, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier and later to major general, the first Jewish general in the Canadian Army. He retired from the Army in 1970.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.