Lawrence of Arabia,
T. E. Lawrence
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, CB, DSO (16 August 1888 – 19 May 1935), known professionally as T. E. Lawrence, was aBritish Army officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916–18. The extraordinary breadth and variety of his activities and associations, and his ability to describe them vividly in writing, earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia, a title which was used for the 1962 film based on his First World War activities.
T. E. Lawrence with his camel “Jedha” (“a splendid beast”)
Lawrence was born illegitimately in Tremadog, Wales in August 1888 to Sir Thomas Chapman and Sarah Junner, a governess, who was herself illegitimate. Chapman left his wife to live with Sarah Junner, and they called themselves Mr and Mrs Lawrence. In the summer of 1896 the Lawrences moved to Oxford, where from 1907 to 1910 young Lawrence studied history at Jesus College, graduating with First Class Honours. He became a practising archaeologist in the Middle East, working with David George Hogarth and Leonard Woolley on various excavations. In January 1914, following the outbreak of the First World War, Lawrence was co-opted by the British military to undertake a military survey of the Negev Desert while doing archaeological research.
|T. E. Lawrence|
|16 August 1888 – 19 May 1935 (aged 46)|
|Nickname||Lawrence of Arabia, El Aurens|
|Place of birth||Tremadog, Caernarfonshire, Wales|
|Place of death||Bovington Camp, Dorset, England|
|Allegiance|| United Kingdom
|Service/branch|| British Army
Royal Air Force
|Years of service||1914–18
|Rank||Lieutenant Colonel and Aircraftman|
|Battles/wars||First World War|
|Awards||Companion of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order
Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur
Croix de guerre
Lawrence was born on 16 August 1888 in Tremadog, Caernarfonshire (now Gwynedd),Wales, in a house named Gorphwysfa, now known as Snowdon Lodge. His Anglo-Irishfather, Thomas Robert Tighe Chapman, who in 1914 inherited the title of seventh Baronetof Westmeath in Ireland, had left his wife Edith for his daughters’ governess Sarah Junner. Junner’s mother, Elizabeth Junner, had named as Sarah’s father a “John Junner – shipwright journeyman”, though she had been living as an unmarried servant in the household of a John Lawrence, ship’s carpenter, just four months earlier. The couple did not marry but were known as Mr and Mrs Lawrence.
Thomas Chapman and Sarah Junner had five sons born out of wedlock, of whom Thomas Edward was the second eldest. From Wales the family moved to Kirkcudbright inDumfries and Galloway, then Dinard in Brittany, then to Jersey. From 1894–96 the family lived at Langley Lodge (now demolished), set in private woods between the eastern borders of the New Forest and Southampton Water in Hampshire. Mr Lawrence sailed and took the boys to watch yacht racing in the Solent off Lepe beach. By the time they left, the eight-year-old Ned (as Lawrence became known) had developed a taste for the countryside and outdoor activities.
In the summer of 1896 the Lawrences moved to 2 Polstead Road (now marked with a blue plaque) in Oxford, where, until 1921, they lived under the names of Mr and Mrs Lawrence. Lawrence attended the City of Oxford High School for Boys, where one of the fourhouses was later named “Lawrence” in his honour; the school closed in 1966. As a schoolboy, one of his favourite pastimes was to cycle to country churches and make brass rubbings. Lawrence and one of his brothers became commissioned officers in theChurch Lads’ Brigade at St Aldate’s Church.
Lawrence claimed that in about 1905, he ran away from home and served for a few weeks as a boy soldier with the Royal Garrison Artillery at St Mawes Castle in Cornwall, from which he was bought out. No evidence of this can be found in army records.
Middle East archaeology
From 1907 to 1910 Lawrence studied history at Jesus College, Oxford. During the summers of 1907 and 1908, he toured France by bicycle, collecting photographs, drawings and measurements of castles dating from the mediaeval period. In the summer of 1909, he set out alone on a three-month walking tour of crusader castles in Ottoman Syria, during which he travelled 1,000 mi (1,600 km) on foot. Lawrence graduated with First Class Honours after submitting a thesis entitled The influence of the Crusades on European Military Architecture – to the end of the 12th century based on his own field research in France, notably in Châlus, and the Middle East.
On completing his degree in 1910, Lawrence commenced postgraduate research in mediaeval pottery with a Senior Demy, a form of scholarship, at Magdalen College, Oxford, which he abandoned after he was offered the opportunity to become a practising archaeologist in the Middle East. Lawrence was a polyglot whose published work demonstrates competence in French, Ancient Greek, and Arabic.
In December 1910 he sailed for Beirut, and on arrival went to Jbail (Byblos), where he studiedArabic. He then went to work on the excavations at Carchemish, near Jerablus in northern Syria, where he worked under D. G. Hogarth and R. Campbell-Thompson of theBritish Museum. He would later state that everything that he had accomplished, he owed to Hogarth. As the site lay near an important crossing on the Baghdad Railway, knowledge gathered there was of considerable importance to the military. While excavating ancient Mesopotamian sites, Lawrence metGertrude Bell, who was to influence him during his time in the Middle East.
In late 1911, Lawrence returned to England for a brief sojourn. By November he was en route to Beirut for a second season atCarchemish, where he was to work with Leonard Woolley. Prior to resuming work there, however, he briefly worked with Flinders Petrie at Kafr Ammar in Egypt.
Lawrence continued making trips to the Middle East as a field archaeologist until the outbreak of the First World War. In January 1914, Woolley and Lawrence were co-opted by the British military as an archaeological smokescreen for a British military survey of the Negev Desert. They were funded by the Palestine Exploration Fund to search for an area referred to in the Bible as the “Wilderness of Zin“; along the way, they undertook an archaeological survey of the Negev Desert. The Negev was of strategic importance, as it would have to be crossed by any Ottoman army attacking Egypt in the event of war. Woolley and Lawrence subsequently published a report of the expedition’s archaeological findings, but a more important result was an updated mapping of the area, with special attention to features of military relevance such as water sources. Lawrence also visited Aqaba and Petra.
From March to May 1914, Lawrence worked again at Carchemish. Following the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914, on the advice of S.F. Newcombe, Lawrence did not immediately enlist in the British Army; he held back until October, when he was commissioned on the General List.
At the outbreak of the First World War Lawrence was a university post-graduate researcher who had for years travelled extensively within the Ottoman Empire provinces of the Levant (Transjordan and Palestine) and Mesopotamia (Syria and Iraq) under his own name. As such he became known to the Turkish Interior Ministry authorities and their German technical advisors. Lawrence came into contact with the Ottoman–German technical advisers, travelling over the German-designed, -built, and -financed railways during the course of his researches.
Even if Lawrence had not volunteered, the British would probably have recruited him for his first-hand knowledge of Syria, the Levant, and Mesopotamia. He was eventually posted toCairo on the Intelligence Staff of the GOC Middle East.
Contrary to later myth, it was neither Lawrence nor the Army that conceived a campaign of internal insurgency against the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East, but rather the Arab Bureau of Britain’s Foreign Office. The Arab Bureau had long felt it likely that a campaign instigated and financed by outside powers, supporting the breakaway-minded tribes and regional challengers to the Turkish government’s centralised rule of their empire, would pay great dividends in the diversion of effort that would be needed to meet such a challenge. The Arab Bureau had recognised the strategic value of what is today called the “asymmetry” of such conflict. The Ottoman authorities would have to devote from a hundred to a thousand times the resources to contain the threat of such an internal rebellion compared to the Allies’ cost of sponsoring it.
At that point in the Foreign Office’s thinking they were not considering the region as candidate territories for incorporation in the British Empire, but only as an extension of the range of British Imperial influence, and the weakening and destruction of a German ally, the Ottoman Empire.
During the war, Lawrence fought with Arab irregular troops under the command of Emir Faisal, a son of Sherif Hussein of Mecca, in extended guerrilla operations against the armed forces of the Ottoman Empire. He persuaded the Arabs not to make a frontal assault on the Ottoman stronghold in Medina but allowed the Turkish army to tie up troops in the city garrison. The Arabs were then free to direct most of their attention to the Turks’ weak point, the Hejaz railway that supplied the garrison. This vastly expanded the battlefield and tied up even more Ottoman troops, who were then forced to protect the railway and repair the constant damage.
Prince Ali “”Effete and sickly”
The Arab Revolt (1916–1918) (Arabic: الثورة العربية Al-Thawra al-`Arabiyya) (Turkish: Arap İsyanı) was initiated by the Sherif Hussein bin Ali with the aim of securing independence from the ruling Ottoman Turks and creating a single unified Arab state spanning from Aleppo in Syria to Aden in Yemen.
Prince Abdullah “Round and jolly”
Prince Faisal The “noble Arab”
The Tribes and Tribesmen
These are some of the tribesmen who fought with Faisal and Lawrence, for anybody wondering what an “Arab warrior” looked like
It is often said that a hundred thousand Bedouin fought in the Arab Revolt, and that over ten thousand of them were killed. What is frequently forgotten, or not realised, is that the tribesmen only fought in their own territories. Once the action moved out of their tribal lands, the Bedouin left, either openly or drifting away discreetly, battles elsewhere being none of their business. They also fought for pay, and when the pay was late, tended to drift away as well. Thus, the “battles” were seldom more than skirmishes with a few hundred men involved at most, usually less. The only real “battle” fought by Lawrence was at Tafila. It is also worthy of comment that when he tried to use the Howeitat out of their own area on the Yarmouk, the attack was a complete failure.
Lawrence and Faisal were constantly obliged to treat with different chiefs, and to remember the limits of what they could ask the Bedouin to do. Reading “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” one easily gets lost in the list of names. The Bani Salem in the Hejaz gave place to the Juhayna, who in turn were replaced by the Bani Atiya, the Howeitat, the Ruwallah and the Bani Sakher. All of these major tribes had septs, clans and sub-clans, and all of these had chiefs who had to be met, welcomed, negotiated with, and – frequently – appeased. They also had to be paid.
|Arabia and Southern Arabia Campaigns|
|Part of Middle Eastern theatre of World War I|
Lawrence of Arabia after the Battle of Aqaba.
| Hashemite Arabs
|Commanders and leaders|
T. E. Lawrence
| Djemal Pasha
|30,000 (June 1916)||23,000|
The rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire goes back to 1821. Arab nationalism has its roots in the Mashriq (the Arabs lands east of Egypt), particularly in countries of Sham (the Levant). The political orientation of Arab nationalists in the years prior to the Great War was generally moderate.
The Young Turk Revolution began on 3 July 1908 and quickly spread throughout the empire, resulting in the sultan’s announcement of the restoration of the 1876 constitution and the reconvening of parliament. This period is known as the Second Constitutional Era. The Arabs’ demands were of a reformist nature, limited in general to autonomy, greater use ofArabic in education, and changes in conscription in the Ottoman Empire in peacetime for Arab conscripts that allowed local service in the Ottoman army. In the elections held in 1908, the Young Turks through theirCommittee of Union and Progress (CUP) managed to gain the upper hand against the rival group led by Prens Sabahaddin. The CUP was more liberal in outlook, bore a strong British imprint, and was closer to the Sultan. The new parliament comprised 142 Turks, 60 Arabs, 25 Albanians, 23 Greeks, 12 Armenians (including four Dashnaks and two Hunchas), 5 Jews, 4Bulgarians, 3 Serbs, and 1 Vlach. The CUP in the Ottoman parliament gave more emphasis to centralization and a modernization programme. At this stage Arab nationalism was not yet a mass movement, even in Syria where it was strongest. Many Arabs gave their primary loyalty to their religion or sect, their tribe, or their own particular governments. The ideologies ofOttomanism and Pan-Islamism were strong competitors of Arab nationalism.
Arab members of the parliament supported the Countercoup (1909), which aimed to dismantle the constitution and restore the monarchy of Abdul Hamid II. The dethroned Sultan attempted to regain the Caliphate by putting an end to the secular policies of the Young Turks, but was in turn driven away to exile in Selanik by the 31 March Incident and was eventually replaced by his brother Mehmed V Reşad.
In 1913, intellectuals and politicians from the Arab Mashreq met in Paris at the first Arab Congress. They produced a set of demands for greater autonomy within the Ottoman Empire. They again demanded that Arab conscripts to the Ottoman army should not be required to serve in other regions except in time of war.
It is estimated that the Arab forces involved in the revolt numbered around 5,000 soldiers. This number however probably applies to the Arab Regulars who fought with Allenby’s main army, and not the irregular forces under the direction of Lawrence and Feisal. On a few occasions, particularly during the final campaign into Syria, this number would grow significantly. Many Arabs joined the Revolt sporadically, often as a campaign was in progress or only when the fighting entered their home region. During the Aqaba raid, for instance, while the initial Arab force numbered only a few hundred, over a thousand more from local tribes joined them for the final assault on Aqaba. Estimates of Hussein’s effective forces vary, but through most of 1918 at least, they may have numbered as high as 30,000 men. The Hashemite Army comprised two distinctive forces; tribal irregulars who waged a guerrilla war against the Ottoman Empire and the Sharifian Army, which was recruited from Ottoman Arab POWs, and fought in conventional battles. It should also be noted that in the early days of the Revolt, Hussein’s forces were largely made up of Bedouin and other nomadic desert tribes, who were only loosely allied, loyal more to their respective tribes than the overall cause. The Bedouin would not fight unless paid in advance with gold coin, and by the end of 1916, the French had spent 1.25 million gold francs in subsidizing the revolt. By September 1918, the British were spending £ 220, 000/month to subsidize the revolt. Feisal had hoped that he could convince Arab troops serving in the Ottoman Army to mutiny and join his cause; but the Turkish government sent most of its Arab troops to the front-lines of the war, and thus only a handful of deserters actually joined the Arab forces until later in the campaign.The Hashemite forces were initially poorly equipped, but later were to receive significant supplies of weapons, most notably rifles and machine-guns from Britain and France.
Ottoman troops in the Hejaz numbered 20, 000 men by 1917. At the outbreak of the revolt in June 1916, the VII Corps of the 4th Ottoman Army was stationed in the Hejaz to be joined by the 58th Infantry Division commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Ali Necib Pasha, the 1st Kuvvie- Mürettebe (Provisional Force) led by General Mehmed Cemal Pasha, which had the responsibility of safeguarding the Hejaz railroad and the Hicaz Kuvvei Seferiyesi (Expeditionary Froce of the Hejaz) which was under the command of General Fakhri Pasha. In face of increasing attacks on the Hejaz railroad, the 2nd Kuvvie- Mürettebe was created by 1917. The Ottoman force included a number of Arab units who stayed loyal to the Sultan-Caliph and fought well against the Allies. The Ottoman troops enjoyed an advantage over the Hashemite troops at first in that they were well supplied with modern German weapons. In addition, the Ottoman forces had the support of both the Ottoman air forces, air squardons from Germany and the Ottoman gendarmerie Moreover, the Ottomans relied upon the support of Ibn Rashid, the King of Ha’il whose tribesmen who dominated what is now northern Saudi Arabia and tied down both the Hashemites and the Saud forces with the threat of their raiding attacks. The great weakness of the Ottoman forces was they were at the end of a long and tenuous supply line in the form of the Hejaz railroad, and because of their logistical weaknesses, were often forced to fight on the defensive. Ottoman offensives against the Hashemite forces more often faltered owning to supply problems than to the actions of the enemey.
The main contribution of the Arab Revolt to the war was to pin down tens of thousands of Ottoman troops who otherwise might have been used to attack the Suez Canal, allowing the British to undertake offensive operations with a lower risk of counter-attack. This was indeed the British justification for starting the revolt, a textbook example of asymmetrical warfare which has been studied time and again by military leaders and historians alike.
Arab Soldiers in the Arab Army during the Arab Revolt of 1916–1918. The Arabs are carrying the Arab Flag of the Arab Revolt and pictured in the Arabian Desert.
The Ottoman Empire took part in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I, under the terms of the Ottoman-German Alliance. Many Arab nationalist figures in Damascus andBeirut were arrested, then tortured. The flag of the resistance was designed by Sir Mark Sykes, in an effort to create a feeling of “Arab-ness” in order to fuel the revolt.
Because of repression by the Ottoman Empire and their Central Powers allies, Grand Sharif Hussein, as the guardian of the holy city of Mecca, entered into an alliance with theUnited Kingdom and France against the Ottomans sometime around 8 June 1916, the actual date being somewhat uncertain. This alliance was facilitated by the services of a mysterious young Arab officer in the Ottoman army named Muhammed Sharif al-Faruqi.
Hussein had about 50,000 men under arms, but fewer than 10,000 had rifles. Evidence that the Ottoman government was planning to depose him at the end of the war led him to an exchange of letters with British High Commissioner Henry McMahonwhich convinced him that his assistance on the side of the Triple Entente would be rewarded by an Arab empire encompassing the entire span between Egypt and Persia, with the exception of imperial possessions and interests in Kuwait, Aden, and the Syriancoast. Hussein, who until then had officially been on the Ottoman side decided to defect over the Allied camp because of rumours that Sharif Ali Haidar, leader of the competing Zaid family for the position of Sharif of Mecca was in increasing favour with the Ottoman government, and that he would soon be desposed. The much publicized executions of the Arab nationalist leaders in Damascus led Hussein to fear for his life if he were deposed in favour of Ali Haidar. On June 5, 1916 two of Hussein’s sons, the Emirs Ali and Faisal began the revolt by attacking the Ottoman garrison in Medina, but were defeated by an aggressive Turkish defence led by Fakhri Pasha. The revolt proper began on June 10, 1916 when Hussein ordered his supporters to attack the Ottoman garrison in Mecca. In the Battle of Mecca, there ensured over a month of bloody street fighting between the out-numbered, but far better armed Ottoman troops and Hussein’s tribesmen. The Hashemite forces in Mecca who were joined by Egyptian troops sent by the British, who provided much needed artillery support finally took Mecca on July 9, 1916. The indiscriminate Ottoman artillery fire, which did much damage to Mecca, turned out to be a potent propaganda weapon for the Hashemites, who portrayed the Ottomans as desecrating Islam’s most holy city. Also on June 10, another of Hussein’s sons, the Emir Abdullah attacked Ta’if, which after an initial repulse settled down into a siege. With the Egyptian artillery support, Abdullah took Ta’if on September 22, 1916.
French and British naval forces had cleared the Red Sea of Ottoman gunboats early in the war. The port of Jidda was attacked by 3500 Arabs on 10 June 1916 with the assistance of bombardment by British warships and seaplanes. The seaplane carrier HMSBen-my-Chree provided crucial air support to the Hashemite forces. The Ottoman garrison surrendered on 16 June. By the end of September 1916 Arab armies had taken the coastal cities of Rabegh, Yenbo, Qunfida, and 6000 Ottoman prisoners with the assistance of the Royal Navy. The capture of the Red Sea ports allowed the British to send over force of 700 Ottoman Arab POWs (who come mostly from what is now Iraq) who had decided to join the revolt led by Nuri as-Sa’id and a number of Muslim troops from French North Africa. Fifteen thousand well-armed Ottoman troops remained in the Hejaz. However, a direct attack on Medina in October resulted in a bloody repulse of the Arab forces.
1916: T. E. Lawrence
In June 1916, the British send out a number of officials to assist the revolt in the Hejaz, most notably Colonel Cyril Wilson, Colonel Pierce C. Joyce, and Colonel Stewart Francis Newcombe. In addition, a French military mission commanded by Colonel Edouard Brémond was sent out. The French enjoyed an advantage over the British in that they sent over a number of Muslim officers such as Captain Muhammand Ould Ali Raho, Claude Prost, and Laurnet Depui (the latter two converted to Islam during their time in Arabia). Captain Rosario Pisani of the French Army, through not a Muslim was also played a notable role in the revolt as an engineering and artillery officer with the Arab Northern Army.
The British government in Egypt sent a young officer, Captain T. E. Lawrence, to work with the Hashemite forces in the Hejaz in October 1916. The British historian David Murphy wrote that through Lawrence was just one of out many British and French officers serving in Arabia, historians often write like it was Lawrence alone who represented the Allied cause in Arabia. Lawrence obtained assistance from the Royal Navy to turn back an Ottoman attack on Yenbu in December 1916. Lawrence’s major contribution to the revolt was convincing the Arab leaders (Faisal and Abdullah) to co-ordinate their actions in support of British strategy. Lawrence developed a close relationship with Faisal, whose Arab Northern Army was to be become the main beneficiary of British aid. By contrast, Lawrence’s relations with Abdullah were not good, so Abdullah’s Arab Eastern Army received considerably less in way of British aid. Lawrence persuaded the Arabs not to drive the Ottomans out ofMedina; instead, the Arabs attacked the Hejaz Railway on many occasions. This tied up more Ottoman troops, who were forced to protect the railway and repair the constant damage.
SLM in Switzerland built a class of ten 2-8-0 locomotives for the Hejaz Railway in 1912. They were originally numbered 87–96 and later renumbered 150–159. Several were either captured in 1918 by British and Empire forces or transferred in 1927 toPalestine Railways, which had taken over the Hejaz Railway’s Jezreel Valley branch in 1920. 153 (formerly 90) was transferred in 1927 and is pictured on the Jezreel Valley railway in 1946.
Hejaz Train Station in Damascus,
the starting point of the railroad.
|Reporting mark||The railway in 1908.|
|Locale||southern Syria, Jordan, northern Saudi Arabia|
|Dates of operation||1908–1920|
|Track gauge||1,050 mm (3 ft 5 1⁄3 in)|
|Length||1,320 km (820 mi)|
|Hejaz-Railway (Main Line)|
On December 1, 1916 Fakhri Pasha began an offensive with three brigades out of Medina with the aim of taking the port of Yanbu.At first, Fakhri’s troops defeated the Hashemite forces in several engagements, and seemed set to take Yanbu. It was fire and air support from the five ships of the Royal Navy Red Sea Patrol that defeated the Ottoman attempts to take Yanbu with heavy losses on December 11–12, 1916. Fakhri then turned his forces south to take Rabegh, but owning to the guerrilla attacks on his flanks and supply lines, air attacks from the newly established Royal Flying Corps base at Yanbu, and the over-extension of his supply lines, which was forced to turn back on January 18, 1917 to Medina.
Train of the Aqaba Railway Corporation at Rum Station
The coastal city of Wejh was to be the base for attacks on the Hejaz railway. On 3 January 1917, Faisal began an advance northward along the Red Sea coast with 5100 camel riders, 5300 men on foot, four Krupp mountain guns, ten machine guns, and 380 baggage camels. The Royal Navy resupplied Faisal from the sea during his march on Wejh. While the 800-man Ottoman garrison prepared for an attack from the south, a landing party of 400 Arabs and 200 Royal Navy bluejackets attacked Wejh from the north on 23 January 1917. Wejh surrendered within 36 hours, and the Ottomans abandoned their advance toward Mecca in favor of a defensive position in Medina with small detachments scattered along the Hejaz railway. The Arab force had increased to about seventy-thousand men armed with twenty-eight-thousand rifles and deployed in three main groups. Ali’s force threatened Medina, Abdullah operated from Wadi Ais harassing Ottoman communications and capturing their supplies, and Faisal based his force at Wejh. Camel-mounted Arab raiding parties had an effective radius of 1000 miles (1600 km) carrying their own food and taking water from a system of wells approximately 100 miles (160 km) apart. In late 1916, the Allies start the formation of the Regular Arab Army (also known as the Sharifian Army) raised from Ottoman Arab POWs. The soldiers of the Regular Army wore British-style uniforms with the keffiyahs and unlike the tribal guerrillas, fought full-time and in conventional battles. Some of the more notable former Ottoman officers to fight in the Revolt were Nuri as-Said, Jafar al-Askari and ‘Aziz ‘Ali al-Misri.
The year 1917 began well for the Hashemites when the Emir Abdullah and his Arab Eastern Army ambushed an Ottoman convoy led by Ashraf Bey in the desert, and captured £20, 000 worth of gold coins that were intended to bribe the Bedouin into loyalty to the Sultan. Starting in early 1917, the Hashemite guerrillas began attacking the Hejaz railroad. At first, guerrilla forces commended by officers from the Regular Army such as al-Misri, and by British officers such as Newcombe, Lieutenant Hornby and Major H. Garland focused their efforts on blowing up unguarded sections of the Hejaz railroad. Garland was the inventor of the so-called “Garland mine”, which used with much destructive force on the Hejaz railroad. In February 1917, Garland succeeded for the first time in destroying a moving locomotive with a mine of his own design. Around Medina, Captain Muhammand Ould Ali Raho of the French Military Mission carried out his first railroad demolition attack in February 1917. Captain Raho was to emerge as one of the leading destroyers of the Hejaz railroad. In March 1917, Lawrence led his first attack on the Hejaz railroad. Typical of such attacks were the one commanded out by Newcombe and Joyce who on the night of July 6/7, 1917 when they had planted over 500 charges on the Hejaz railroad, which all set up off at about 2am. In a raid in August 1917, Captain Raho led a force of Bedouin in destroying 5 kilometers of the Hejaz railroad and four bridges.
Derelict Turkish engine on Hejaz Railway, Saudi Arabia.
In March 1917, an Ottoman force joined by tribesmen from the Kingdom of Ha’il led by Ibn Rashid carried out a sweep of the Hejaz that did much damage to the Hashemite forces. However, the Ottoman failiure to take Yanbu in December 1916 led to the increasing strengthing of the Hashemite forces, and led to the Turkish forces to be forced more and more onto the defensive.Lawrence was later to claim that the failure of the offensive against Yanbu was the turning point that ensured the ultimate defeat of the Ottomans in the Hejaz.
|Auda abu Tayi|
Hand-colored photograph of Auda abu Tayi, probably taken by G. Eric Matson (1888-1977). Amman, Jordan 1921
|Place of birth||Hejaz, Saudi Arabia|
In 1917, Lawrence arranged a joint action with the Arab irregulars and forces under Auda Abu Tayi (until then in the employ of the Ottomans) against the port city of Aqaba. This is now known as the Battle of Aqaba. Aqaba was the only remaining Ottoman port on the Red Sea and threatened the right flank of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force defending Egypt and preparing to advance intoPalestine. Capture of Aqaba would aid transfer of British supplies to the Arab revolt. Lawrence and Auda left Wedj on 9 May 1917 with a party of 40 men to recruit a mobile camel force from the Howeitat of Syria. On 6 July, after an overland attack, Aqaba fell to those Arab forces with only a handful casualties. Lawrence then rode 150 miles to Suez to arrange Royal Navy delivery of food and supplies for the 2500 Arabs and 700 Ottoman prisoners in Aqaba; soon the city was co-occupied by a large Anglo-French flotilla (including warships and sea planes), which helped the Arabs secure their hold on Aqaba. Later in the year, the Hashemite warriors made a series of small raids on Ottoman positions in support of General Allenby‘s winter attack on the Gaza-Bersheeba defensive line which led to the Battle of Beersheba). Typical of such raid was one led by Lawrence in September 1917 that saw Lawrence destroy a Turkish rail convoy by blowing up the bridge it was crossing at Mudawwarah and then ambushing the Turkish repair party. In November 1917, as aid to Allenby’s offensive, Lawrence launched a deep-raiding party into the Yarmouk Rivervalley, which failed to destroy the railroad bridge at Tel ash-Shehab, but which succeeded in ambushing and destroying the train of General Mehemd Cemal Pasha, the commander of the Ottoman VII Corps. Allenby’s victories led directly to the capture ofJerusalem just before Christmas 1917.
1918: Increased Allied assistance and the end of fighting
By the time of Aqaba’s capture, many other officers joined Feisal’s campaign. A large number of British officers and advisors, led by Lt. Col.s Stewart F. Newcombe and Cyril E. Wilson, arrived to provide the Arabs rifles, explosives, mortars, and machine guns.Artillery was only sporadically supplied due to a general shortage, though Feisal would have several batteries of mountain guns under French Captain Pisani and his Algerians for the Megiddo Campaign. Egyptian and Indian troops also served with the Revolt, primarily as machine gunners and specialist troops, a number of armoured cars were allocated for use. The Royal Flying Corps often supported the Arab operations, and the Imperial Camel Corps served with the Arabs for a time. The French military mission of 1,100 officers under Brémond established good relations with Hussein and especially with his sons, the Emirs Ali andAbdullah, and for this reason, most of the French effort went into assisting the Arab Southern Army commanded by the Emir Ali that was laying siege to Medina and the Eastern Army commanded by Abdullah that had the responsibility of protecting Ali’s eastern flank from Ibn Rashid. Medina was never taken by the Hashemite forces, and the Ottoman commander, Fakhri Pasha only surrendered Medina when ordered to by the Turkish government on January 9, 1919. The total number of Ottoman troops bottled up in Medina by the time of the surrender were 456 officers and 9, 364 soldiers.
A posed photograph of Australian, British, New Zealand and Indian camel troops
Under the direction of Lawrence, Wilson, and other officers, the Arabs launched a highly successful campaign against the Hejaz Railway, capturing military supplies, destroying trains and tracks, and tying down thousands of Ottoman troops. Though the attacks were mixed in success, they achieved their primary goal of tying down Ottoman troops and cutting off Medina. In January 1918, in one of the largest set-piece battles of the Revolt, Arab forces (including Lawrence) defeated a large Ottoman force at the village of Tafileh, inflicting over 1,000 Ottoman casualties for the loss of a mere forty men. In April 1918, Jafar al-Askari and Nuri as-Said led the Arab Regular Army in a frontal attack on the well-defended Ottoman railroad station at Ma’an, which after some initial successes was fought off with heavy losses to both sides. However, the Sharifian Army succeeded in cutting off and thus neutralizing the Ottoman position at Ma’an, who held out until late September 1918. The British refused several requests from al-Askari to use mustard gas on the Ottoman garrison at Ma’an.
Camel Transportation Corps moving through the Palestinian Front during the war.
In the spring of 1918, Operation Hedgehog, a concerted attempt to sever and destroy the Hejaz railroad was launched. In May 1918, Hedgehog led to the destruction of 25 bridges of the Hejaz railroad. A particularly notable attack of Hedgehog was the storming on August 8, 1918 by the Imperial Camel Corps, closely supported by the Royal Air Force on the well-defended Hejaz railroad station at Mudawwarah. For the final Allied offensive intended to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war, Allenby asked that Emir Feisal and his Arab Northern Army launch a series of attacks on the main Turkish forces from the east, which was intended to both tie down Ottoman troops and force Turkish commanders to worry about their security of their flanks in the Levant. Supporting the Emir Feisal’s army of about 450 men from the Arab Regular Army were tribal contingents from the Rwalla, Bani Sakhr, Agyal, and Howeitat tribes. In addition, Feisal had a group of Gurkha troops, several British armored car squardons, the Egyptian Camel Corps, a group of Algerian artillery men commanded by Captain Pisani and air support from the RAF to assist him
Sgt. Charles Edward Levett, Imperial Camel Corps, 16th New Zealand Company, killed in action, 1918, Palestine
In 1918, the Arab cavalry gained in strength (as it seemed victory was at hand) and they were able to provide Allenby’s army with intelligence on Ottoman army positions. They also harassed Ottoman supply columns, attacked small garrisons, and destroyed railroad tracks. A major victory occurred on 27 September when an entire brigade of Ottoman, Austrian and German troops, retreating from Mezerib, was virtually wiped out in a battle with Arab forces near the village of Tafas (which the Turks had plundered during their retreat). This led to the so-called Tafas massacre, in which Lawrence claimed in a letter to his brother to have issued a “no-prisoners” order, maintaining after the war that massacre was in retaliation for the earlier Ottoman massacre of the village of Tafas, and that he had at least 250 German and Austrian POWs together with an uncounted number of Turks lined up to be summarily shot. Lawrence later wrote in The Seven Pillars of Wisdom that “In a madness born of the horror of Tafas we killed and killed, even blowing in the heads of the fallen and of the animals; as though their death and running blood could slake our agony”.In part due to these attacks, Allenby’s last offensive, the Battle of Megiddo, was a stunning success. By late September and October 1918, an increasingly demoralized Ottoman Army began to retreat and surrender whenever possible to British troops.The Ottoman army was routed in less than 10 days of battle. Allenby praised Feisal for his role in the victory: “I send your Highness my greetings and my most cordial congratulations upon the great achievement of your gallant troops… Thanks to our combined efforts, the Ottoman army is everywhere in full retreat”.
Australian members of the Imperial Camel Corps. After the Es Salt raid, … lancers.org.au
The first Arab Revolt forces to reach Damascus were Sharif Naser’s Hashemite camel cavalry and the cavalry of the Ruwallah tribe, led by Nuri Sha’lan, on 30 September 1918. The bulk of these troops remained outside of the city with the intention of awaiting the arrival of Sharif Feisal. However, a small contingent from the group was sent within the walls of the city, where they found the Arab Revolt flag already raised by surviving Arab nationalists among the citizenry. Later that day Australian Light Horse troops marched into Damascus. Auda Abu Ta’yi, T. E. Lawrence and Arab troops rode into Damascus the next day, 1 October. At the end of the war, the Egyptian Expeditionary Force had seized Palestine, Transjordan, Lebanon, large parts of the Arabian peninsula and southern Syria. Medina, cut off from the rest of the Ottoman Empire, would not surrender until January 1919.
The United Kingdom agreed in the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence that it would support Arab independence if they revolted against the Ottomans. The two sides had different interpretations of this agreement. In the event, the United Kingdom and France reneged on the original deal and divided up the area in ways unfavourable to the Arabs under the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement. Further confusing the issue was the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which promised support for a Jewish “national home” in Palestine. The Hedjaz region of western Arabia became an independent state under Hussein’s control, until 1925, when, abandoned and isolated by the British policy–which had shifted support to the al Saud family–it was conquered by Saudi Arabia.
Capture of Aqaba
|Battle of Aqaba|
|Part of the Arab Revolt on the Middle Eastern theatre of the First World War|
| Arab Rebels
|Commanders and leaders|
| Auda ibu Tayi
T. E. Lawrence
|app. 500 irregular cavalry (1,500 others later joined), assistance from British naval forces||550 men (garrison); one infantry battalion (other troops) (approximately 450 men)|
|Casualties and losses|
|2 killed, ? wounded||300 killed, 700 prisoners|
In 1917, Lawrence arranged a joint action with the Arab irregulars and forces under Auda Abu Tayi(until then in the employ of the Ottomans) against the strategically located but lightly defended town of Aqaba. On 6 July, after a surprise overland attack, Aqaba fell to Lawrence and the Arab forces. After Aqaba, Lawrence was promoted to major. Fortunately for Lawrence, the new commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, General Sir Edmund Allenby, agreed to his strategy for the revolt, stating after the war:
“I gave him a free hand. His cooperation was marked by the utmost loyalty, and I never had anything but praise for his work, which, indeed, was invaluable throughout the campaign.”
Lawrence now held a powerful position, as an adviser to Faisal and a person who had Allenby’s confidence.
Following an unsuccessful attack on Medina, forces of the Arab Revolt under Emir Faisal I were on the defensive against the Turks. In the spring of 1917, Arab forces moved north to seize the Red Sea ports of Yenbo andWejh, allowing them to regain the initiative, but neither the Arabs nor their British allies could agree on a subsequent plan of action. The Arabs began a series of attacks on the Hejaz Railway, and contemplated another campaign against Medina, but with British troops stationary in front of Gaza, it seemed they weren’t in a position to achieve a major success. The Turkish government had sent Arab divisions of its army, which held many pro-Revolt units, to the front lines, depriving Faisal and his allies of much-needed reinforcements.
Lawrence, sent by General Archibald Murray, commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, to act as a military advisor to Faisal, convinced the latter to attack Aqaba. Aqaba was a Turkish-garrisoned port in Jordan, which would threaten British forces operating in Palestine; the Turks had also used it as a base during their 1915 attack on the Suez Canal. It was also suggested by Faisal that the port be taken as a means for the Britishto supply his Arab forces as they moved further north. Though he did not take part in the attack itself (his cousin Sherif Nasir rode along as the leader of his forces), Faisal lent forty of his men to Lawrence. Lawrence also met with Auda ibu Tayi, leader of the northern Howeitat tribe of Bedouin, who agreed to lend himself and a large number of his men to the expedition. Lawrence informed his British colleagues of the planned expedition, but they apparently did not take him seriously, expecting it to fail.
Aqaba was not in and of itself a major military obstacle; a small village at the time, it was not actually garrisoned by the Turks, though the Turks did keep a small, 400-man garrison at the mouth of the Wadi Itm to protect from landward attack via the Sinai Peninsula. The British Royal Navyoccasionally shelled Aqaba, and in late 1916 had briefly landed a party of Marines ashore there, though a lack of harbor or landing beaches made an amphibious assault impractical. The main obstacle to a successful landward attack on the town was the largeNefud Desert, believed by many to be impassable.
Battle and Campaign
The expedition started moving towards Aqaba in May. Despite the heat of the desert, the seasoned Bedouins encountered few obstacles aside from occasional harassment from small bands of Arabs paid off by the Turks; they lost more men to attacks by snakes and scorpions than to enemy action. During the expedition, Auda and Lawrence’s forces also did severe damage to theHejaz Railway.
Lawrence’s plan was to convince the Turks that the target of his attack was Damascus, rather than Aqaba. At one point in this expedition, he went on a solitary reconnaissance expedition, destroying a railroad bridge at Baalbek. Lawrence did this largely to convince the Turks that the Arab force – of which they had received vague reports – was moving towards Damascus or Aleppo.
The expedition then approached Daraa, and captured a railroad station nearby. This action confirmed for the Turks, who had heretofore been misled as to the Arab army’s intentions, that Aqaba was indeed their target. A squadron of 400 Turkish cavalry was sent after them, but Auda’s men were easily able to avoid them.
Abu el Lissal and Aqaba
The actual battle for Aqaba occurred for the most part at a Turkish blockhouse at Abu el Lissal, about halfway between Aqaba and the town of Ma’an. A group of separate Arab rebels, acting in conjunction with the expedition, had seized the blockhouse a few days before, but a Turkish infantry battalion arrived on the scene and recaptured it. The Turks then attacked a small, nearby encampment of Arabs and killed several of them.
After hearing of this, Auda personally led an attack on the Turkish troops there, attacking at mid-day on July 6. The charge was a wild success. Turkish resistance was slight; the Arabs brutally massacred hundreds of Turks as revenge before their leaders could restrain them. In all, three hundred Turks were killed and another 150 taken prisoner, in exchange for the loss of two Arabs killed and a handful of wounded. Lawrence was nearly killed in the action; he accidentally shot the camel he was riding in the head with his pistol, but was fortunately thrown out of harm’s way when he fell. Auda was grazed numerous times, with his favorite pair of field glasses being destroyed, but was otherwise unharmed.
Meanwhile, a small group of British naval vessels appeared offshore of Aqaba itself and began shelling it. At this point, Lawrence, Auda, and Nasir had rallied their troops; their total force had been quadrupled to 2,000 men by a local Bedouin who, with the defeat of the Turks at Lissal, now openly joined Lawrence’s expedition. This force maneuvered themselves past the outer works of Aqaba’s defensive lines, approached the gates of Aqaba, and its garrison surrendered without further struggle.
Lawrence traveled across the Sinai Peninsula with a small bodyguard to personally inform the British army in Cairo, now under General Edmund Allenby, that Aqaba had fallen. Arriving at the Suez Canal, Lawrence phoned Cairo HQ to tell of the success, and also arranged for a naval transport of supplies to Aqaba. Lawrence arrived in Cairo a few days later and conferred with Allenby, who agreed to supply the Arab forces there with arms, supplies, payment and several warships.
Aqaba would not be fully secured for several months; Turkish troops operating through the Wadi Itm recaptured the Abu el Lissal blockhouse in early August and threatened Aqaba itself, precipitating a number of skirmishes outside the city, but the arrival of Arab reinforcements and British warships and airplanes dissuaded them from attacking the city outright.
The seizure of Aqaba allowed for the transport of Faisal’s army further north, where it could again begin operations with the logistical support of the British military. It also relieved pressure on British forces in Palestine and effectively isolated the Turkish forces in Medina, and opened a pathway for possible Arab military operations into Syria and Jordan.
Fall of Damascus
The secret missions helped Lawrence of Arabia, left, capture Damascus in 1918. George Hynes, right, was one of the aircraft mechanics who, working under extreme conditions, ensured the safety of the aircraft
The following year, Lawrence was involved in the capture of Damascus in the final weeks of the war and was promoted to lieutenant-colonel in 1918. In newly liberated Damascus—which he had envisaged as the capital of an Arab state—Lawrence was instrumental in establishing a provisional Arab government under Faisal. Faisal’s rule as king, however, came to an abrupt end in 1920, after thebattle of Maysaloun, when the French Forces of General Gouraud under the command of General Mariano Goybet, enteredDamascus, breaking Lawrence’s dream of an independent Arabia.
During the closing years of the war he sought, with mixed success, to convince his superiors in the British government that Arab independence was in their interests. The secret Sykes-Picot Agreement between France and Britain contradicted the promises of independence he had made to the Arabs and frustrated his work.
In 1918 he co-operated with war correspondent Lowell Thomas for a short period. During this time Thomas and his cameraman Harry Chase shot a great deal of film and many photographs, which Thomas used in a highly lucrative film that toured the world after the war.
The Battle of Maysalun (Arabic: معركة ميسلون), also called The Battle of Maysalun Pass, took place between Syrian and French forces about 12 miles west of Damascus near the town of Maysalun on July 23, 1920.
The battle occurred when the French moved to topple the newly proclaimed nationalist government under King Faisal. An independent Kingdom of Syria had recently been proclaimed after an Arab army, which included British colonel T. E. Lawrence, defeated the Ottomans and captured Damascus. However, as a result of negotiations between the western powers at the San Remo conference, and the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement between Britain and France, the French were given a mandate (August 1920) over Syria by the League of Nations, which Faisal and his government refused to recognize. Faisal also refused to recognize Lebanese independence fromGreater Syria. The French had set up the republic on the remnants of a former Ottoman Christian-majority autonomous province. The French forces advanced out of Beirut, led by General Gouraud. Some Maronite Lebanese reportedly fought on the French side, unwilling to join a Muslim-dominated Kingdom of Syria.
Syrian soldiers at Maysalun.
Understanding the futility of opposing the French forces, King Faisal submitted to the French and fled to Iraq where he was made ruler of the Kingdom of Iraq by the British. However, Syrian defense minister General Yusuf al-Azmah, who was 36 years old at the time, insisted that Syrians could not allow the French to enter unopposed. He led a small force from Damascus, which consisted of a few hundred regular soldiers from the newly formed army and some hastily-summoned citizen volunteers on what was essentially a suicide mission. The French forces under the command of General Mariano Goybet easily defeated the Syrian forces. Yusuf al-Azmah was killed in the battle. He is remembered in Syria today as a martyr who died in the cause of Syrian independence. A statue of him now resides at the center of one of the largest squares in Damascus. The battle ushered in the new era of French colonialism and led to more revolts in Northern Syria and Damascus.
|Battle of Maysalun
|Part of the Franco-Syrian War|
Henri Gouraud on horseback inspecting his French troops at Maysalun
|Commanders and leaders|
|Henri Gouraud||Yusuf al-Azmah†|
|9,000 (includes tanks and airplanes)||3,000 (older light equipment)|
|Casualties and losses|
|42 dead and 154 injured||400 dead|
Immediately after the war, Lawrence worked for the Foreign Office, attending the Paris Peace Conference between January and May as a member of Faisal’s delegation. He served for much of 1921 as an advisor to Winston Churchill at the Colonial Office.
In August 1919, the American journalist Lowell Thomas launched a colorful photo show in London entitled With Allenby in Palestine which included a lecture, dancing, and music. Initially, Lawrence played only a supporting role in the show, but when Thomas realized that it was the photos of Lawrence dressed as a Bedouin that had captured the public’s imagination, he shot some more photos in London of him in Arab dress. With the new photos, Thomas re-launched his show as With Allenby in Palestine and Lawrence in Arabia in early 1920; it was extremely popular. Thomas’ shows made Lawrence, who until then been rather obscure, into a household name.
In August 1922, Lawrence enlisted in the Royal Air Force as an aircraftman under the name John Hume Ross. He was soon exposed and, in February 1923, was forced out of the RAF. He changed his name to T. E. Shaw and joined the Royal Tank Corps in 1923. He was unhappy there and repeatedly petitioned to rejoin the RAF, which finally readmitted him in August 1925. A fresh burst of publicity after the publication of Revolt in the Desert (see below) resulted in his assignment to a remote base in British India in late 1926, where he remained until the end of 1928. At that time he was forced to return to Britain after rumours began to circulate that he was involved in espionage activities.
He purchased several small plots of land in Chingford, built a hut and swimming pool there, and visited frequently. This was removed in 1930 when the Chingford Urban District Council acquired the land and passed it to the City of London Corporation, but re-erected the hut in the grounds of The Warren, Loughton, where it remains, neglected, today. Lawrence’s tenure of the Chingford land has now been commemorated by a plaque fixed on the sighting obelisk on Pole Hill.
He continued serving in the RAF based at Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire, specialising in high-speed boats and professing happiness, and it was with considerable regret that he left the service at the end of his enlistment in March 1935.
Lawrence was a keen motorcyclist, and, at different times, had owned seven Brough Superior motorcycles. His seventh motorcycle is on display at the Imperial War Museum. Among the books Lawrence is known to have carried with him on his military campaigns is Thomas Malory‘s Morte D’Arthur. Accounts of the 1934 discovery of theWinchester Manuscript of the Morte include a report that Lawrence followed Eugene Vinaver—a Malory scholar—by motorcycle from Manchester to Winchester upon reading of the discovery in The Times.
Lawrence on a Brough Superior SS100
At the age of 46, two months after leaving the service, Lawrence was fatally injured in an accident on his Brough Superior SS100motorcycle in Dorset, close to his cottage, Clouds Hill, near Wareham. A dip in the road obstructed his view of two boys on their bicycles; he swerved to avoid them, lost control and was thrown over the handlebars. He died six days later on 19 May 1935. The spot is marked by a small memorial at the side of the road.
The circumstances of Lawrence’s death had far-reaching consequences. One of the doctors attending him was the neurosurgeon Hugh Cairns. He was profoundly affected by the incident, and consequently began a long study of what he saw as the unnecessary loss of life by motorcycle dispatch riders through head injuries. His research led to the use of crash helmets by both military and civilian motorcyclists.
Moreton Estate, which borders Bovington Camp, was owned by family cousins, the Frampton family. Lawrence had rented and later bought Clouds Hill from the Framptons. He had been a frequent visitor to their home, Okers Wood House, and had for years corresponded with Louisa Frampton. On Lawrence’s death, his mother arranged with the Framptons for him to be buried in their family plot at Moreton Church. His coffin was transported on the Frampton estate’s bier. Mourners included Winston and Clementine Churchill and Lawrence’s youngest brother, Arnold.
Throughout his life, Lawrence was a prolific writer. A large portion of his output was epistolary; he often sent several letters a day. Several collections of his letters have been published. He corresponded with many notable figures, including George Bernard Shaw,Edward Elgar, Winston Churchill, Robert Graves, Noël Coward, E. M. Forster, Siegfried Sassoon, John Buchan, Augustus John andHenry Williamson. He met Joseph Conrad and commented perceptively on his works. The many letters that he sent to Shaw’s wife,Charlotte, offer a revealing side of his character.
In his lifetime, Lawrence published four major texts. Two were translations: Homer‘s Odyssey, and The Forest Giant — the latter an otherwise forgotten work of French fiction. He received a flat fee for the second translation, and negotiated a generous fee plusroyalties for the first.
Seven Pillars of Wisdom
Lawrence’s major work is Seven Pillars of Wisdom, an account of his war experiences. In 1919 he had been elected to a seven-year research fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford, providing him with support while he worked on the book. In addition to being a memoir of his experiences during the war, certain parts also serve as essays on military strategy, Arabian culture and geography, and other topics. Lawrence re-wrote Seven Pillars of Wisdom three times; once “blind” after he lost the manuscript while changing trains at Reading railway station.
The list of his alleged “embellishments” in Seven Pillars is long, though many such allegations have been disproved with time, most definitively in Jeremy Wilson‘s authorised biography. However Lawrence’s own notebooks refute his claim to have crossed the Sinai Peninsula from Aqaba to the Suez Canal in just 49 hours without any sleep. In reality this famous camel ride lasted for more than 70 hours and was interrupted by two long breaks for sleeping which Lawrence omitted when he wrote his book.
Lawrence acknowledged having been helped in the editing of the book by George Bernard Shaw. In the preface to Seven Pillars, Lawrence offered his “thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Shaw for countless suggestions of great value and diversity: and for all the present semicolons.”
The first public edition was published in 1926 as a high-priced private subscription edition, printed in London by Roy Manning Pike and Herbert John Hodgson, with illustrations byEric Kennington, Augustus John, Paul Nash, Blair Hughes-Stanton and his wife Gertrude Hermes. Lawrence was afraid that the public would think that he would make a substantial income from the book, and he stated that it was written as a result of his war service. He vowed not to take any money from it, and indeed he did not, as the sale price was one third of the production costs.This left Lawrence in substantial debt.
Revolt in the Desert
Revolt in the Desert was an abridged version of Seven Pillars, which he began in 1926 and was published in March 1927 in both limited and trade editions. He undertook a needed but reluctant publicity exercise, which resulted in a best-seller. Again he vowed not to take any fees from the publication, partly to appease the subscribers to Seven Pillars who had paid dearly for their editions. By the fourth reprint in 1927, the debt fromSeven Pillars was paid off. As Lawrence left for military service in India at the end of 1926, he set up the “Seven Pillars Trust” with his friend D. G. Hogarth as a trustee, in which he made over the copyright and any surplus income of Revolt in the Desert. He later told Hogarth that he had “made the Trust final, to save myself the temptation of reviewing it, if Revolt turned out a best seller.”
The resultant trust paid off the debt, and Lawrence then invoked a clause in his publishing contract to halt publication of the abridgment in the UK. However, he allowed both American editions and translations, which resulted in a substantial flow of income. The trust paid income either into an educational fund for children of RAF officers who lost their lives or were invalided as a result of service, or more substantially into the RAF Benevolent Fund.
Lawrence left unpublished The Mint, a memoir of his experiences as an enlisted man in the Royal Air Force. For this, he worked from a notebook that he kept while enlisted, writing of the daily lives of enlisted men and his desire to be a part of something larger than himself: the Royal Air Force. The book is stylistically very different from Seven Pillars of Wisdom, using sparse prose as opposed to the complicated syntax found in Seven Pillars. It was published posthumously, edited by his brother, Professor A. W. Lawrence.
After Lawrence’s death, A. W. Lawrence inherited all Lawrence’s estate and his copyrights as the sole beneficiary. To pay the inheritance tax, he sold the U.S. copyright of Seven Pillars of Wisdom (subscribers’ text) outright to Doubleday Doran in 1935. Doubleday still controls publication rights of this version of the text of Seven Pillars of Wisdom in the USA. In 1936 Prof. Lawrence split the remaining assets of the estate, giving Clouds Hill and many copies of less substantial or historical letters to the nation via the National Trust, and then set up two trusts to control interests in T. E. Lawrence’s residual copyrights. To the original Seven Pillars Trust, Prof. Lawrence assigned the copyright in Seven Pillars of Wisdom, as a result of which it was given its first general publication. To the Letters and Symposium Trust, he assigned the copyright in The Mint and all Lawrence’s letters, which were subsequently edited and published in the book T. E. Lawrence by his Friends (edited by A. W. Lawrence, London, Jonathan Cape, 1937).
A substantial amount of income went directly to the RAF Benevolent Fund or for archaeological, environmental, or academic projects. The two trusts were amalgamated in 1986 and, on the death of Prof. A. W. Lawrence, the unified trust also acquired all the remaining rights to Lawrence’s works that it had not owned, plus rights to all of Prof. Lawrence’s works.
- Seven Pillars of Wisdom, an account of Lawrence’s part in the Arab Revolt. (ISBN 0-8488-0562-3)
- Revolt in the Desert, an abridged version of Seven Pillars of Wisdom. (ISBN 1-56619-275-7)
- The Mint, an account of Lawrence’s service in the Royal Air Force. (ISBN 0-393-00196-2)
- Crusader Castles, Lawrence’s Oxford thesis. London: Michael Haag 1986 (ISBN 0-902743-53-8). The first edition was published in London in 1936 by the Golden Cockerel Press, in 2 volumes, limited to 1000 editions.
- The Odyssey of Homer, Lawrence’s translation from the Greek. (ISBN 0-19-506818-1)
- The Forest Giant, by Adrien Le Corbeau, novel, Lawrence’s translation from the French, 1924.
- The Letters of T. E. Lawrence, selected and edited by Malcolm Brown. London, J. M Dent. 1988 (ISBN 0-460-04733-7)
- The Letters of T. E. Lawrence, edited by David Garnett. (ISBN 0-88355-856-4)
- Jeremy Wilson, T. E. Lawrence. Letters. (See Prospectus )
- Minorities: Good Poems by Small Poets and Small Poems by Good Poets, edited by Jeremy Wilson, 1971. Lawrence’scommonplace book includes an introduction by Jeremy Wilson that explains how the poems comprising the book reflected Lawrence’s life and thoughts.
Vision of Middle East
The map provides an alternative to present-day borders in the region, apparently partly designed with the intention to marginalise the post-war role of France in the region by limiting its direct colonial control to today’s Lebanon. It includes a separate state for theArmenians, a separate state of Palestine, and groups the people of present-day Syria, Jordan and parts of Saudi Arabia in another state, based on tribal patterns and commercial routes.
Lawrence’s biographers have discussed his sexuality at considerable length, and this discussion has spilled into the popular press.
There is no reliable evidence for consensual sexual intimacy between Lawrence and any person. His friends have expressed the opinion that he was asexual, and Lawrence himself specifically denied, in multiple private letters, any personal experience of sex. While there were suggestions that Lawrence had been intimate with Dahoum, who worked with Lawrence at a pre-war archaeological dig in Carchemish, and fellow-serviceman R.A.M. Guy, his biographers and contemporaries have found them unconvincing.
The dedication to his book Seven Pillars is a poem entitled “To S.A.” which opens:
- I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands
and wrote my will across the sky in stars
To earn you Freedom, the seven-pillared worthy house,
that your eyes might be shining for me
When we came.
Lawrence was never specific about the identity of “S.A.” There are many theories which argue in favour of individual men, women, and the Arab nation. The most popular is that S.A. represents (at least in part) his companion Selim Ahmed, “Dahoum”, who apparently died of typhus prior to 1918.
Although Lawrence lived in a period during which official opposition to homosexuality was strong, his writing on the subject was tolerant. In Seven Pillars, when discussing relationships between young male fighters in the war, he refers on one occasion to “the openness and honesty of perfect love and on another to “friends quivering together in the yielding sand with intimate hot limbs in supreme embrace”. In a letter to Charlotte Shaw he wrote “I’ve seen lots of man-and-man loves: very lovely and fortunate some of them were.
In both Seven Pillars and a 1919 letter to a military colleague, Lawrence describes an episode in November 1917 in which, while reconnoitring Dera’a in disguise, he was captured by the Turkish military, heavily beaten, and sexually abused by the local Bey and his guardsmen. The precise nature of the sexual contact is not specified. Although there is no independent evidence, the multiple consistent reports, and the absence of evidence for outright invention in Lawrence’s works, make the account believable to his biographers. At least three of Lawrence’s biographers (Malcolm Brown, John Mack, and Jeremy Wilson) have argued this episode had strong psychological effects on Lawrence which may explain some of his unconventional behaviour in later life.
There is considerable evidence that Lawrence was a masochist. In his description of the Dera’a beating, Lawrence wrote “a delicious warmth, probably sexual, was swelling through me”, and also included a detailed description of the guards’ whip in a style typical of masochists’ writing. In later life, Lawrence arranged to pay a military colleague to administer beatings to him, and to be subjected to severe formal tests of fitness and stamina. While John Bruce, who first wrote on this topic, included some other claims which were not credible, Lawrence’s biographers regard the beatings as established fact.
Lawrence’s biographer Flora Armitage writes about his and his brothers’ illegitimacy: “The effect on [T.E.] Lawrence of this discovery was profound; it added to the romantic urge for heroic conduct—the dream of the Sangreal—the seed of ambition, the desire for honor and distinction: the redemption of the blood from its taint.
Another biographer, John E. Mack, elaborates on this theme:
Part of his creativity and originality lies in his “irregularity,” in his capacity to remain outside conventional ways of thinking, a tendency which I believe derives, at least in part, from his illegitimacy. Lawrence’s capacity for invention and his ability to see unusual or humorous relationships in familiar situations come also, I believe, from his illegitimacy. He was not limited to established or “legitimate” solutions or ways of doing things, and thus his mind was open to a wider range of possibilities and opportunities.[At the same time] Lawrence’s illegitimacy had important social consequences and placed limitations upon him, which rankled him deeply and preyed on his mind. Certain schools and social opportunities were not available; he was excluded from some social groups and may have been considered a liability for a number of professional posts, especially in government circles. At times he felt socially isolated when erstwhile friends shunned him upon learning of his background. Lawrence’s delight in making fun of regular officers and other segments of “regular” society… derived, one suspects, at least in part from his inner view of his own irregular situation. His fickleness about names for himself is directly related, of course, to his view of his parents and to his identification with them.