|| He called himself an
'ordinary man' but Thomas Edward Lawrence lived an extraordinary
Born in Tremadoc, Wales, in 1888, Thomas Edward - known
as Ned - was the second of five illegitimate boys.
Lawrence's father, Sir Thomas Chapman, left his first marriage
when he fell in love with the family governess, Sarah Junner. His parents assumed the name of Lawrence and remained unmarried.
After much travelling, the Lawrence family eventually settled in Oxford where young Ned went to school and university. He loved history and travel, spending his youth exploring castles and old churches. After a study trip in Syria where he walked over a thousand miles to study remote Crusader castles, Lawrence graduated with first-class honors and decided to become an archaeologist.
Lawrence returned to the Middle East, working from 1910-1914 at an excavation in Carchemish, northern Syria, where he continued his love affair with all things Arabic. It was here he formed a close friendship with a young Arab worker, Dahoum, who became his traveling companion and assistant.
Lawrence was back in England when war was declared and was keen to contribute. He was assigned to the British Army in Cairo. Using his knowledge of Arabic he interviewed Turkish prisoners and soon became familiar with Turkish Army locations and strengths.
In 1916, he was sent as a liaison officer to join the Great Arab Revolt, led by Prince Feisal. He took money and guns and helped keep the Revolt alive. Using guerrilla tactics they struck at Turkish lines of communication but avoided direct confrontation.
In the spring of 1917, Feisal attacked Aqaba, a valuable port town and Turkish fort. Lawrence was actively involved and joined the Arab fighters riding hundreds of miles across the desert to strike the Turks where they least expected it. It was all kept secret from London: "I decided to go my own way, with or without orders".
It was a stunning victory. When Lawrence travelled to Cairo to report the taking of Aqaba to his commander, General Allenby who was delighted and promised to supply whatever resources he could spare. The Arabs were now part of a general Allied push for Damascus.
T.E.Lawrence | Prince Feisal | General
Allenby | King Hussein | Dahoum
| Winston Churchill | Lowell
Thomas | Auda Abu Tayeh