"... those whose idea of fun was spending Sunday afternoon in the shed with an oily rag, or marching on Aqaba." - the Death of T. E. Lawrence

19 May 1935, Thomas Edward Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia, died in Bovington Camp in Dorset from the injuries he received in a motorcycle crash 6 days before.

"I deem him one of the greatest beings alive in our time. I do not see his like elsewhere. I fear whatever our need we shall never see his like again." (Winston Churchill)


Lawrence on a Brough Superior SS100, the bike he met the accident with. The neurosurgeon attending him in Bovington Camp, Hugh Cairns, was prominent in the implementation of a mandatory wearing of crash helmets for military and civilian motorcyclists.


Scholar, archaeologist, author, poet, secret agent and “a mighty warrior” (Lowell Thomas), T.E. Lawrence became an iconic figure for leading the Arab Revolt in the Middle East against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War.

Two British archaeologists during the excavations of Carchemish in present-day Syria before the Great War, back then a part of the Ottoman Empire: T.E. Lawrence and Leonard Woolley in the spring of 1913. One of them was a spy.


Deeply disenchanted about British and French treatment of his former Arab allies and friends under the Sykes-Picot Agreement, mostly denying them political independence outside of the Arab Peninsula, Col Lawrence withdrew and served from 1922 -1935 as a common soldier in the RAF, denying official honours, while the media styled him, who played an admittedly major role in a rather obscure war theatre, a hero. A photo show and later a film about being “With Allenby in Palestine and Lawrence in Arabia“ and a book “With Lawrence in Arabia“ by the American writer and broadcaster Lowell Thomas became a huge success and made Lawrence of Arabia into the household name he is to this day.


T.E. Lawrence and Lowell Thomas in 1920, posing for PR shots back home in England


With all the personal merits and flaws making El Aurens a “heap of broken images” combined with his “genius for backing into the limelight" (Thomas), he is probably the best example of a modern knight errant, carrying a copy of Malory’s “Morte D'Arthur” with him during the whole Arab campaign, with an image inflated by the media for a public that was in desperate need of a counterdraft to the anonymous horrors of a mechanised war.



"I think you are another of these desert-loving English"
Lawrence striking a pose in 1917 during the war



The income generated by Lawrence’s books and royalties for Thomas’ show went directly to the RAF Benevolent Fund or for archaeological, environmental, or academic projects that exists today still.

More on:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T.E._Lawrence