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Evelyn Achille de Rothschild (1886-1917)

Evelyn Achille de Rothschild was born on 6 January 1886, the son of Leopold and Marie Perugia. During his childhood he spent many long summers in Scotland at the Sassoon family's Speyside lodge where he enjoyed to the full all the sporting activities the area could offer.

He was a close friend of his cousin, Neil Primrose (1882-1917), the son of the Earl and Countess of Rosebery, Lady Rosebery was Hannah Rothschild) (1851-1890), and the Roseberys also joined the summer parties. Evelyn was an exceptionally fine horseman. He went to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1904, and in 1907 became Joint Master of the Cambridge University Draghounds. He twice represented the University in the Grind and rode the winners of several races in the University Steeplechases.

He entered into the family business at New Court in 1907, although he never became a partner. In 1911 he travelled to Canada with his friend S.D. Brocklehurst and visited Egypt and Syria. In 1913, he undertook a lengthy trip to to South America with his brother Anthony Gustav (1887-1961); the trip garnered much publicity in all the places they visited and they were treated as honoured guests. He also followed the example of his father Leopold (1845-1917) and he was active in Jewish affairs, serving as Treasurer of the United Synagogue, 1911, and Vice-President in 1917.

The First World War

Evelyn Achille served as a Major in the Bucks Yeomanry (Royal Bucks Hussars), and was mobilised with his Regiment on the outbreak of the War. ln August 1914, he was promoted to the rank of Captain and left for Egypt in April 1915. He was then sent to Gallipoli, where he was temporarily in command of the Regiment, but after three months there was invalided to the base. He remained in Egypt was present at both Battles of Gaza. In March 1917, he was promoted to Major. He was wounded in the Yeomanry charge on El Mughar (Palestine) on 13 November 1917, and died of wounds sustained in battle in the Citadel Hospital, Cairo, four days later. His cousin Neil Primrose was killed in the same battle. The Officer Commanding the Bucks Yeomanry wrote:

"The Regiment was taking part in a mounted charge on the Turkish infantry, who were very strongly posted on some high ground, El Mughair. I attacked with the Regiment in column of squadrons, and Evelyn was with the 2nd Squadron and was to take command of the two leading Squadrons on reaching the objective. We had some two miles of open country to cross, which was fairly swept by machine-gun and rifle fire. It was about half-way across this plain that Evelyn was struck down by a bullet. After all his death was a glorious one, killed when charging at the head of his men of Bucks.”

Writing to his father, Leopold, Evelyn’s Commanding Officer, said:

"And then Evelyn has gone - a friend of fifteen years. Evelyn was a 'very perfect gentle knight; and as Second-in-Command of the Regiment almost ' more royalist than the king.’”

Evelyn Achille was buried (with no members of his family present) in the Jewish cemetery in Cairo. On 13 October 1919 his remains were re-interred in Rishon-le-Zion Jewish Cemetery, Israel; again no members of the family were present, but members of the Zionist leadership assembled in tribute. It is believed that the re-interment weas carried out thanks to the intervention of Lord Dalmeny in Cairo (Dalmeny had been adjutant and aide-de-camp to General Allenby in France, Palestine, and Cairo), James de Rothschild (1878-1957) and the Zionist leadership in Palestine. A memorial to Evelyn Achille was erected by the family in Willesden United Synagogue Cemetery.

A  scholarship was established at Harrow School in 1918 in memory of Evelyn Achille, "in order to encourage among the boys at Harrow School a due appreciation of the qualities of devotion to duty, truthfulness, unselfishness, loyalty and consideration of others."

Archive sources

Sundry papers and artefacts of Evelyn Achille de Rothschild are listed below. A larger collection of private correspondence, papers relating to his early life, hunting and riding, papers relating to his military service, death and funeral, together with sundry military artefacts, medals and posthumous awards of Evelyn Achille de Rothschild forms part of 000/2628, The Ascot Collection IV.

Evelyn Achille de Rothschild, Harrow School portrait photographs, c.1899-1904

000/2036, 2 items

Two modern photographic prints of Evelyn Achille de Rothschild (1886-1917), from original glass plate photographs in the Harrow School collection of photograph portraits of 'Old Harrovians'.

Evelyn Achille de Rothschild, artefacts, regimental insignia and buttons, c.1914-1917

000/637, 6 items

Evelyn Achille de Rothschild (1886-1917): regimental insignia and buttons of the army uniform of Evelyn Achille de Rothschild. Evelyn served as a Major in the Bucks Yeomanry (Royal Bucks Hussars), and was mobilised with his Regiment on the outbreak of the War. ln August, 1914, he was promoted Captain and left for Egypt in April, 1915. He was then sent to Gallipoli, but after three months there was invalided to the base. He was wounded in the Yeomanry charge on El Mughar on 13 November 1917, and died in the Citadel Hospital, Cairo, four days later.

See also 000/2628 The Ascott Collection IV for other First World War artefacts of Major Evelyn Achille de Rothschild.

Evelyn Achille de Rothschild, press cuttings, 'The Daily Mirror', 1917

000/1599, 1 item

The Daily Mirror, 13 December 1917, with front page photograph of the funeral of Evelyn Achille de Rothschild in Cairo: "Full military honours were accorded at Cairo to Major Evelyn Achille de Rothschild, who died in Palestine, and here the coffin is seen being placed on the gun-carriage. The wreath upon it was from Lady Allenby. The deceased officer was in the same regiment as his cousin, the late Captain Neil Primrose M.P., who also fell in Palestine." Evelyn Achille was buried (with no members of his family present) in the Jewish cemetery in Cairo. On 13 October 1919 his remains were re-interred in Rishon-le-Zion Jewish Cemetery, Israel; again no members of the family were present, but members of the Zionist leadership assembled in tribute. It is believed that the re-interment weas carried out thanks to the intervention of Lord Dalmeny in Cairo (Dalmeny had been adjutant and aide-de-camp to General Allenby in France, Palestine, and Cairo), James de Rothschild (1878-1957) and the Zionist leadership in Palestine. A memorial to Evelyn Achille was erected by the family in Willesden United Synagogue Cemetery.

Evelyn Achille de Rothschild, Executors' papers, 1917

000/66, 1 box

Papers, correspondence, valuations and financial records relating to Evelyn Achille's estate, including correspondence, accounts, valuations, schedules and income tax assessments, and 'Valuation in effects at Ascott, Wing and 5 Hamilton Place in estate of late Evelyn Achille de Rothschild, December 1917'.

Evelyn Achille de Rothschild, secondary sources, copy documents and photographs, c.1915-1917

000/250, 000/1978, 000/2033, 3 files

Folder of photocopies of documents and transcripts of letters relating to the charge of the Bucks Yeomanry at El Mughar, 13 October 1917; Copy print of photograph of Royal Bucks Hussars in Palestine, c.1917; modern photographs of Evelyn Achille de Rothschild's grave at Rishon le Zion, Israel.