T E Lawrence - a Case of Confused Identity

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015
'Zac as T E Lawrence'


'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.'

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015
'Pete as Dahoum'

Thomas Edward Lawrence CB DSO (16 August 1888 – 19 May 1935) was a British archaeologist, military officer, and diplomat.
He was renowned for his liaison role during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, and the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916–18.
The 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 used for the 1962 film based on his First World War activities.

Thomas Edward Chapman (Lawrence also known as 'el Aurens' and later Shaw) was born out of wedlock in Tremadog, Wales, in August 1888 to Sir Thomas Chapman and Sarah Junner, a governess who was herself illegitimate.
Chapman had left his wife and first family in Ireland to live with Junner, and they called themselves Mr and Mrs Lawrence.

Sir Thomas Robert Tighe Chapman, 7th Baronet (6 November 1846 – 8 April 1919) was an Anglo-Irish landowner, the last of the Chapman baronets of Killua Castle in Ireland. For many years he lived under the name of Thomas Robert Lawrence, taking the name of his partner, Sarah Lawrence, the mother of his five sons. Born in 1846, the second of the three sons of William Chapman (1811–1889) and his wife Louisa, daughter of Colonel Arthur Vansittart (1775–1829), of Shottesbrook, and the grandson of Sir Thomas Chapman, 2nd Baronet, Chapman was educated at Eton College. He was brought up to lead the life of a country gentleman, at a house called South Hill, near the village of Delvin, County Westmeath, Ireland, a modest property of some 170 acres, and also at the family's town house in Dublin. The Chapman family belonged to the higher level of the Anglo-Irish landowning class and for generations its members had married into families of a similar standing in England and Ireland.
In the summer of 1896 the Lawrences moved to Oxford, where in 1907–10 young Lawrence studied History at Jesus College and graduated with First Class Honours.
He became a practising archaeologist in the Middle East, working at various excavations with David George Hogarth and Leonard Woolley.
In 1908, he joined the Oxford University Officers' Training Corps and underwent a two-year training course.
In January 1914, before the outbreak of World War I, Lawrence was commissioned by the British Army to undertake a military survey of the Negev Desert while doing archaeological research.
Lawrence's public image resulted in part from the sensationalised reportage of the Arab revolt by an American journalist, Lowell Thomas, as well as from Lawrence's autobiographical account 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom' (1922).
In 1935, Lawrence was fatally injured in a motorcycle accident in Dorset.

Early Life

Lawrence was born on 16 August 1888 in Tremadog, Caernarfonshire, Wales, in a house named Gorphwysfa, now known as Snowdon Lodge.
His Anglo-Irish father, Thomas Robert Tighe Chapman, who in 1914 inherited the title of Westmeath in Ireland as seventh Baronet, 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.
Thomas Chapman and Sarah Junner did not marry (?), but were known as Mr and Mrs Lawrence.
They had five sons; Thomas Edward was the second eldest.
From Wales the family moved to Kirkcudbright, Galloway, in southwestern Scotland, then Dinard in Brittany, then to Jersey.
In 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 (Chapman) sailed, and took the boys to watch yacht racing in the Solent.
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 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 four houses was later named "Lawrence" in his honour; the school closed in 1966.
Lawrence and one of his brothers became commissioned officers in the Church Lads' Brigade at St Aldate's Church.
Lawrence claimed that circa 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, however, of this appears in army records.

'T. E. Lawrence as a cadet at Newporth Beach, near Falmouth'
Henry Scott Tuke, RA RWS

Henry Scott Tuke, RA RWS (12 June 1858 – 13 March 1929), was an English visual artist; primarily a painter, but also a photographer. His most notable work was in the Impressionist style, and he is probably best known for his paintings of nude boys and young men.
He has recently become something of a cult figure in 'gay' cultural circles, with lavish editions of his paintings published and his works fetching high prices at auctions.

 At the age of 15, Lawrence and his schoolfriend Cyril Beeson bicycled around Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, visited almost every village's parish church, studied their monuments and antiquities, and made rubbings of their monumental brasses. 
Lawrence and Beeson monitored building sites in Oxford and presented their finds to the Ashmolean Museum.
The Ashmolean's Annual Report for 1906 said the two teenage boys "by incessant watchfulness secured everything of antiquarian value which has been found."
In the summers of 1906 and 1907, Lawrence and Beeson toured France by bicycle, collecting photographs, drawings, and measurements of medieval castles.

Oxford and Archaeology

From 1907 to 1910, Lawrence studied History at Jesus College, Oxford.
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 field research with Beeson in France, notably in Châlus, and his solo research in the Middle East.
On completing his degree in 1910, Lawrence commenced postgraduate research in medieval 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, at Carchemish, in the expedition that D. G. Hogarth was setting up on behalf of the British Museum.
David George Hogarth (23 May 1862 – 6 November 1927) was a British archaeologist and scholar associated with T. E. Lawrence and Arthur Evans. Hogarth travelled to excavations in Cyprus, Crete, Egypt, Syria, Melos, and Ephesus (the Temple of Artemis). On the island of Crete, he excavated Zakros and Psychro Cave. Hogarth was named director of the British School at Athens in 1897 and occupied the position until 1900. He was the keeper of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford from 1909 until his death in 1927. In 1915, during World War I, Hogarth joined the Geographical Section of the Naval Intelligence Division. He also was the acting director of the 'Arab Bureau' for a time during the war. Hogarth was close with T.E. Lawrence, and he worked closely with Lawrence to plan the Arab Revolt. From 1925 to 1927 he was President of the Royal Geographical Society.
Lawrence was a polyglot whose published work demonstrates competence in Ancient Greek, Arabic, and French.
In December 1910, he sailed for Beirut and on his arrival went to Jbail (Byblos), where he studied Arabic.


He then went to work on the excavations at Carchemish, near Jerablus in northern Syria, where he worked under Hogarth and R. Campbell Thompson of the British Museum.
He would later state that everything he had accomplished, he owed to Hogarth.
As the site lay near an important crossing on the Baghdad Railway, knowledge he gathered there was subsequently of considerable importance to the military.
While excavating at Carchemish, Lawrence met Gertrude Bell, who later worked with him on setting up the state of Iraq.
Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell, CBE (14 July 1868 – 12 July 1926) was an English writer, traveller, political officer, administrator, spy and archaeologist who explored, mapped, and became highly influential to British imperial policy-making due to her knowledge and contacts, built up through extensive travels in Greater Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, and Arabia. Along with T. E. Lawrence, Bell helped establish the Hashemite dynasties in what is today Jordan as well as in Iraq. She played a major role in establishing and helping administer the modern state of Iraq, utilising her unique perspective from her travels and relations with tribal leaders throughout the Middle East. During her lifetime she was highly esteemed and trusted by British officials and given an immense amount of power for a woman at the time. She has been described as "one of the few representatives of His Majesty's Government remembered by the Arabs with anything resembling affection".
In late 1911, Lawrence returned to England for a brief stay.
By November he was en route to Beirut for a second season at Carchemish, where he was to work with Leonard Woolley.
Before resuming work there, however, he briefly worked with Flinders Petrie at Kafr Ammar in Egypt.
Between the spring of 1912 and the autumn of 1913, Lawrence stayed at Carchemish for four excavation seasons, residing in a spacious excavation house, newly built inside the site by himself and Woolley on behalf of the British Museum.
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 made an archaeological survey of the Negev Desert.
The Negev was strategically important as, in the event of war, any Ottoman army attacking Egypt would have to cross it.
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, Lawrence did not immediately enlist in the British Army; on the advice of S. F. Newcombe he held back until October, when he was commissioned on the General List, and posted to the intelligence staff in Cairo.

The Arab Revolt

At the outbreak of the 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 had become known to the Ottoman Interior Ministry authorities, and their German technical advisers, travelling on the German-designed, built, and financed railways during the course of his research.
The 'Arab Bureau' of Britain's Foreign Office conceived a campaign of internal insurgency against the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East.
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.
With his first-hand knowledge of Syria, the Levant, and Mesopotamia (not to mention having already worked as a part-time civilian army intelligence officer), on his formal enlistment in 1914 Lawrence was posted to Cairo on the Intelligence Staff of the GOC (General Officer Commanding) Middle East.
The British government in Egypt sent Lawrence to work with the Hashemite forces in the Arabian Hejaz in October 1916.
There he met and worked with Herbert Garland.
During the war, Lawrence fought alongside Arab irregular troops under the command of Emir Faisal, a son of Sharif Hussein of Mecca, in extended guerrilla operations against the armed forces of the Ottoman Empire.
Lawrence obtained assistance from the Royal Navy to turn back an Ottoman attack on Yenbo 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.
He persuaded the Arabs not to make a frontal assault on the Ottoman stronghold in Medina but to allow 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.
Lawrence developed a close relationship with Faisal, whose Arab Northern Army was to become the main beneficiary of British aid.
On January 3, 1917, Lawrence went off on his first desert raid with 35 armed tribesmen.
Under cover of darkness, they rode their camels out of camp, dismounted and scrambled up a steep hill overlooking a Turkish encampment, which they peppered with rifle fire until driven off.
Returning, they came across two Turks, and took them back to camp for questioning.
That minor triumph was later counterbalanced by a small tragedy when, to prevent a crippling blood feud from breaking out, Lawrence had to personally execute a member of his own band, a deed that, it has been suggested, haunted him for the rest of his life.
At the end of March, Lawrence set off on his first raid against the railway, a Turkish station at Abu el-Naam.
After carefully reconnoitering it, Lawrence crept down to the lines at nightfall and laid a Garland mine under the tracks, cutting the telegraph wires as he left.
The next morning, the Bedouins overran the station with the aid of a mountain gun and a howitzer, setting several wagons of a nearby train on fire.
As it steamed out of the station, Lawrence blew the mine under the front bogies, knocking it off the rails.
Although the Turks got the train rolling again, the operation was a success.
The attacks on the railway continued throughout 1917.
During one, Lawrence blew up a locomotive with an electric mine.
In 1917, Lawrence arranged a joint action with the Arab irregulars and forces including 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, and 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. He was the mainspring of the Arab movement and knew their language, their manners and their mentality."
Field Marshal Edmund Henry Hynman Allenby, 1st Viscount Allenby GCB, GCMG, GCVO (23 April 1861 – 14 May 1936) was an English soldier and British Imperial Governor. He fought in the Second Boer War, and also in World War I in which he led the British Empire's Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign in the conquest of Palestine capturing Beersheba, Jaffa and Jerusalem from October to December 1917. After occupying the Jordan Valley during the summer 1918, he went on to capture northern Palestine and defeat Yildirim Army Group's Eighth Army at the Battle of Megiddo, forcing the Fourth and Seventh Army to retreat towards Damascus. Subsequently the EEF Pursuit by Desert Mounted Corps captured Damascus and advanced into northern Syria. During this pursuit he commanded T. E. Lawrence, whose campaign with Faisal's Arab Sherifial Forces assisted the EEF's capture of Ottoman Empire territory and fought the Battle of Aleppo, five days before the Armistice of Mudros on 30 October 1918, ended the campaign. He continued to serve in the region as High Commissioner for Egypt and the Sudan from 1919 until 1925.
Lawrence now held a powerful position, as an adviser to Faisal and a person who had Allenby's confidence.
In January 1918, Lawrence fought in the battle of Tafileh, an important region southeast of the Dead Sea, together with Arab regulars under the command of Jafar Pasha al-Askari.
The battle was a defensive engagement that turned into an offensive rout and was described in the official history of the war as a "brilliant feat of arms".
Lawrence was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his leadership at Tafileh and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
The battle took the lives of 400 Turks and captured more than 200 prisoners.
By the summer of 1918, the Turks were offering a substantial reward for Lawrence's capture, with one officer writing in his notes:
"Though a price of £15,000 has been put on his head by the Turks, no Arab has, as yet, attempted to betray him. The Sharif of Mecca [King of the Hedjaz] has given him the status of one of his sons, and he is just the finely tempered steel that supports the whole structure of our influence in Arabia. He is a very inspiring gentleman adventurer."
 The Fall of Damascus

Lawrence was involved in the build-up to the capture of Damascus in the final weeks of the war.
Much to his disappointment, and contrary to instructions he had issued, he was not present at the city's formal surrender, having arrived several hours after the city had fallen. 
Lawrence entered Damascus around 9am on 1 October 1918 but was only the third arrival of the day; the first was the 10th Australian Light Horse Brigade, led by Major A.C.N. 'Harry' Olden, who formally accepted the surrender of the city from acting Governor Emir Said.
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.
The latter's rule as king, however, came to an abrupt end in 1920, after the battle of Maysaloun, when the French Forces of General Gouraud, under the command of General Mariano Goybet, entered Damascus, destroying Lawrence's dream of an independent Arabia.
During the closing years of the war Lawrence 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.
Thomas went to Jerusalem where he met Lawrence, whose enigmatic figure in Arab uniform fired his imagination.
With Allenby's permission he linked up with Lawrence for a brief couple of weeks.
Returning to America, Thomas, early in 1919, started his lectures, supported by moving pictures of veiled women, Arabs in their picturesque robes, camels and dashing Bedouin cavalry, which took the nation by storm, after running at Madison Square Garden in New York.
On being asked to come to England, he made the condition he would do so if asked by the King, and given Drury Lane or Covent Garden.
He opened at Covent Garden on 14 August 1919, and so followed a series of some hundreds of lecture—film shows, attended by the highest in the land.


'T. E. Lawrence as a cadet at Newporth Beach, near Falmouth'
Henry Scott Tuke, RA RWS
The above painting, by Henry Scott Tuke hangs in Clouds Hill, the final home of T.E. Lawrence (aka 'Lawrence of Arabia'). It's an inoffensive image. A young man, apparently Lawrence, ties his puttees as a naked boy swims in the rock pool beyond. There's a gentle dichotomy between freedom and service. It's a fitting emblem for Lawrence's life and the questions that remain unanswered nearly 80 years after his death. The manifest homoeroticism within the picture - lessened when Tuke painted clothes on the 'Lawrence' figure - points to one of the major riddles of Lawrence's life - his homosexuality, his sadomasochistic tendencies, and his intense relationship with young 'Dahoum'. Here, then, is a man who was resolutely masculine, central to our current understanding of the Middle East (albeit flawed) and emblematic of a poetry now seemingly missing from diplomatic and military life.