1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lawrence, Thomas Edward

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See also T. E. Lawrence on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

LAWRENCE, THOMAS EDWARD (1888-), British traveller, archaeologist and soldier, was born in Wales Aug. 15 1888, and educated in Jersey and at Dinard as well as at the High School, Oxford, proceeding on to Jesus College, Oxford, and graduating 1st class in modern history 1910. He went the same year to Carchemish on the Euphrates, as assistant in the British Museum's excavation of that ancient Hittite site. There he was still working when the outbreak of the World War and the decision of Turkey to join the Central European Powers put an abrupt stop to all archaeological work and called Lawrence to what proved a wider field. From Oct. to Dec. 1914 he worked at home in a department of the War Office. In 1915 he went to Egypt as a staff captain. The following spring he was in Mesopotamia at Army Headquarters, whence he returned to Cairo as intelligence officer for the Mesopotamia expeditionary force. In the autumn he was attached to the Arab Bureau at Cairo, under Lt.-Comm. D. G. Hogarth, being then a staff captain on the Foreign Office list, not under War Office control. In that capacity he was attached in 1917 to the staff of Gen. Sir F. Wingate, the general in command of the Hejaz expeditionary force. This gave Lawrence his great opportunity. He possessed, to an extraordinary degree, a power of getting into intimate association with the Arabs of the desert, such as has belonged to but one or two of his predecessors in Arabian travel, and he combined with this gift the soldier's instinct and a capacity for leadership which raised him at once to the first rank of commanders in desert warfare. The story of how he raised and led a force of Arabs, which cut the Hejaz railway, pushed forward in the van of Allenby's advancing army and were first into Damascus, is but faintly reflected in the dry official record of his various promotions to major (Aug. 1917) and lieutenant-colonel (1918), when he was transferred to Gen. Allenby's staff.

To decorations and official recognitions he was notoriously indifferent. He was a Prince of Mecca, a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, the holder of the Croix de Guerre (with palms), the Italian silver medal and various British war medals. But what he cared for was the cause of the Arabs, whom he had learned to know and admire, and for whose interests he pleaded at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. In that year he was demobilized and retired into academic life, being elected to a research fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford. Unofficially he remained in frequent touch with the Emir Faisal; but he did not reëmerge officially until March 1921, when Mr. Winston Churchill, on succeeding Lord Milner at the Colonial Office, appointed Lawrence to be his adviser there on Middle Eastern affairs, with a view to the subsequent creation of a special department dealing with them.