Lawrence of Arabia
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General Allenby
  Edmund Allenby was one of Britain's most successful commanders during World War I.

Born in 1861, he enjoyed a privileged education before joining the Inniskilling Dragoons, and serving with distinction in Southern Africa (1884-1888) and in the Boer War (1889-1901).

At the start of the First World War, General Allenby commanded the Cavalry Division of the British Expeditionary Force sent to France. Early successes saw him rise to command the Third Army until he clashed with his Supreme Commander, General Douglas Haig. Allenby was transferred to the Palestine Front where the only real danger was that of boredom.

Here he encountered an excitable, scruffy officer - Captain T.E. Lawrence - fresh from his victory at Aqaba and suggesting ways to assist the Revolt. Lawrence later remembered Allenby as "physically large and confident, and morally so great that the comprehension of our littleness came slow to him".

"He was hardly prepared for anything so odd as myself - a little bare-footed silk-skirted man offering to hobble the enemy by his preaching if given stores and arms and a fund of two hundred thousand sovereigns to convince and control his converts," Lawrence said.

Allenby said he would do what he could and in fact used Lawrence as his personal liaison officer with the Arabs situated to the east of his forces. He combined their efforts to push north against the Turks, employing his mechanized forces against the Turks with lightning strikes whilst the Arabs struck at the Turkish railway and hampered their efforts to move troops and supplies.

By December, 1917 Allenby had moved upwards from Egypt and captured Jerusalem. As the first Christian conqueror of the Holy City since the Crusades, Allenby ordered his troops to dismount as a mark of respect when they entered the city.

The following year Allenby defeated the remaining Turkish Army in Palestine. A final and conclusive strike at the Battle of Megiddo in September 1918 left the road to Damascus open.

By the time Allenby arrived Lawrence and the Arabs were already installed. With Lawrence translating Allenby informed Prince Feisal that his newly-appointed Arab government would not be recognized and the city was to be handed over to the French.

After this fateful meeting Lawrence asked his commander for leave and returned to England a broken man. Allenby was promoted to Field Marshal and later served as Britain's High Commissioner in Egypt from 1919 to 1925. He outlived Lawrence by one year.

Go to an excerpt from Allenby's 1935 radio interview where he remembered Lawrence.

T.E.Lawrence | Prince Feisal | General Allenby | King Hussein | Dahoum | Winston Churchill | Lowell Thomas | Auda Abu Tayeh

General Allenby
  General Allenby  

Lawrence of Arabia