T. E. Lawrence ftontispiece The bungalow at No. 2 Polstead Road, Oxford, facing page 48



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The political judgment and prescience of those remarks are only equalled by the military acumen which failed to realise that the armies of France and England in September, 1914, had only just avoided a fearful military disaster, and had suffered casualties which made an immediate offensive impossible. And yet, as we have seen, Lawrence in his youth had shown impulses towards the military life and an interest in soldiering, the more remarkable since they are not often to be noted in his type of intellectual sthete. His running away to enlist in the ranks of the Royal Artillery may or may not be one of his stories, but his association with the Oxford Church Lads' Brigade and O.T.C. is authenticated. Again, the stories of his physical endurance and fakir-like abstinence from food are obvious exaggerations of the familiar type, but he certainly cycled and walked strenuously and ate frugally on his French and Syrian tours. Then, his self-training as an expert revolver shot is interesting, and still more so the fact that a day or two after the opening of the 1914 war, a friend saw him practising rifle-shooting on a range his younger brother had made in a disused
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clay pit in north Oxford. 12 All this may reasonably be held to show a wish if not an aptitude for soldiering, the frustration of which partly explains his resentment against regular officers -- they had been privileged to be what he by his birth was debarred from.
His intellectual preparation for warfare was even more thorough and unusual than his attempts at practical training. No contemporary records have been preserved, since these studies are not once mentioned in any pre-war records nor in any reminiscences of that epoch, and the first public mention of them occurs in Lowell Thomas's book, for Lawrence's own remarks on the subject do not appear in Revolt in the Desert. Lowell Thomas was told that Lawrence had made "an exhaustive study of military writers," from "the wars of Sennacherib, Thotmes and Rameses," down to " Napoleon, Wellington, Stonewall Jackson, von Moltke and Foch." And Lawrence himself told Mr. Thomas that "in the irregular war which he conducted against the Turks," he had found Csar and Xenophon more useful than Foch. 13 Passing to Graves, we learn that Lawrence's tutors did not require him to read up any campaigns later than Napoleon's but he had read "most of the more modern military writers, such as the great Clausewitz" (who, by the by, first saw service on the Rhine in 1792, and was Thielmann's chief of staff at Waterloo), von Moltke and "the recent Frenchmen, including Foch." Here again Foch is denounced, in this case on the grounds that he had "lifted many of his chief principles from an Austrian report on the 1866 campaign." 14
Next, we have Lawrence's own statement in Seven Pillars in which he condescendingly explains that "of course he had read the usual books, Clausewitz, Jomini, Mahan, and Foch," and "like any other Oxford man had played at Napoleon's campaigns, worked at Hannibal's tactics, and the wars of Belisarius." 15 When questioned by Liddell Hart on this topic Lawrence opened out freely. He had, he explained, begun reading books on war at -- it seems inevitable -- an exceptionally early age, fifteen. He had read Creasy, Henderson, Mahan, Napier, Coxe, technical treatises on castle building, Procopius, Demetrius Poliorcetes, and "nearly every manual of chivalry" -whatever that may mean. His "period was always the Middle Ages" but from Clausewitz (whom he read in 1905-6) he worked back to Napoleon, Guibert and Saxe. He had visited every 12th century castle in France, England and Wales, went "elaborately into siege-
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manuvres via Viollet-le-Duc," had seen Valmy and "tried to refight the whole of Marlborough's wars." 16 In Hart's book these military authors are increased by Vegetius, Goltz, Willisen and Bourcet. Liddell Hart informs us that the only copy of Bourcet known in England is at the War Office, but does not tell us how the undergraduate Lawrence came to read it, and he appends a note of admiration to Lawrence's revelation that he had actually "browsed" through the thirty-two volumes of Napoleon Despatches. Moreover, he assured Hart that he had "visited Rocroi, Crécy, Agincourt, Malplaquet, Sedan" and had followed "step by step" the Crusaders in Syria. 17
Well, there you have the story, or rather the stories. It seems a formidable preparation for minor guerrilla warfare with Bedouins along the Hejaz railway. At his death there was only one of these books in Lawrence's library, a three-volume English translation of Clausewitz published in 1911, six years after he read the book in 1905-6. The two volumes of Procopius he had were part of a then complete set of Loeb classics given to him by Lord Riddell after the war: but not kept up to date. The record may be lacking, but there is no mention in the published letters or by friends or relatives of any visit by Lawrence to the battlefields named. If the ambiguous phrase about trying to re-fight all Marlborough's battles means that he went over the actual sites, then he must have made entirely unrecorded journeys to Belgium and Germany -- and where chronologically are these to be fitted in?
A possible clue to all this ostentatious militarist erudition may be derived from Lawrence's curious remark about Foch's having derived his principles from an Austrian report on the 1866 campaign. Why the 1866 campaign particularly? In Hart's book Lawrence is quoted as saying that he learned of these books through his tutor, R. LanePoole, 18 but in a private note to Liddell Hart he mentions that he had been "fortunate in having access to the advice of Oman and LanePoole." 19 Now, there was at Oxford a University Kriegspiel Club, of which Oman was long an enthusiastic member, which "played war-games in the German style on the old set of Prussian official maps for the campaign of Sadowa . . ." i.e. the 1866 campaign! The "most resolute and bloodthirsty tactician on the map" Oman tells us, was as might be expected, the professor of theology. He goes on
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to say the "Kriegspiel" remained one of his recreations for many years and that afterwards he was "a frequent umpire in the bloodless battles of the younger generation." 20 Here we have a possible source for Lawrence's portentous parade of military authorities; and if introduced to the Kriegspiel Club Lawrence could easily have overheard the learned discussions of these high-brow warriors in their arm-chairs -- making them his own as he usually did make his what he picked up from others. Similarly he may have "tried to re-fight the whole of Marlborough's wars" in the Kriegspiel manner without actually visiting the battlefields. Or is it all an invention by Lawrence?
Unfortunately, in spite of this unique fund of military learning, Lawrence, in 1914, could not apply for the only appropriate post of Field-Marshal with any hopes of success. But before we examine the evidence as to what he did do, the reader must again be warned that censorship has been at work. The editor of Lawrence Letters tells us that "the record of the war years in Lawrence's private letters is a fragmentary one, and I have not been allowed to use all that I wished to publish." 21 Whether the publication of this suppressed material would or would not materially alter the record as it now stands is obviously a matter of pure conjecture, and for any certainty we must await the pleasure of those who are withholding the evidence, whatever it may be, probably nothing of any interest. At all events, the letter of political prophecy already quoted ( 18th September, 1914), shows that Lawrence had not yet entered the Army; "I am writing a learned work on Moses and his wanderings; for the Egyptian people say they want me but not yet, and the War Office won't accept me till the Egyptian W.O. has finished with me." 22 This is none too clear, but it seems to mean that while he was engaged in some way to the "Egyptian War Office" the parent body in London would not have him; it also implies that he had already sought a Staff office appointment.
When, after the war, the writing up of Lawrence's exploits began, a different story was put forth. According to the version given to Lowell Thomas, Lawrence tried to enlist as a private, but the Medical board "looked at the frail, five-foot-three, tow-headed youth, winked at one another, and told him to run home to his mother and wait until the next war." 23 Graves, who was unaware of the collaboration of Lawrence with Lowell Thomas, "corrects" the statement that Lawrence was rejected for physical reasons. What he reports is that
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Lawrence tried to join "an Officers' Training Corps at Oxford" and "tried again in London" but failed because of "a temporary glut of recruits." 24 Another version, not necessarily in contradiction to the above, is sponsored by Sir Ronald Storrs in the Dictionary of National Biography: "On the outbreak of war in 1914 Lawrence, being below standard height (then raised to 5 feet 6 inches) * obtained but a sedentary commission on the Geographical Section, General Staff of the W.O." 25 This was evidently the story Lawrence told his war-time friends. Colonel Newcombe says: "On the outbreak of war, I had to leave the completion of my maps and reports to go to France; Woolley soon became an Artillery Officer, being rather taller than T. E. Lawrence. . . . Lawrence being too short for the required standard at that time, offered his services to finish and edit my reports and maps." 26 Vyvyan Richards says that Lawrence and Woolley both tried to enlist at the outset, but were told to complete their report first;" when Woolley joined up " Lawrence found he was not eligible since the minimum height limit had been raised to check temporarily an excessive rush of recruits." 27
It is perfectly true that even in August there was such a rush that some units could do no more than take particulars of many volunteers, and that in the late autumn or winter the standard height was temporarily raised to check the flow of recruits for whom there was neither equipment nor training personnel -- I think to 5 feet 8 inches, but I may be wrong. Liddell Hart has the same rejection for height story 28 but in the notes made for his book from Lawrence's talk and other sources we read: "Did not try to enlist. Worked on Sinai book, then W.O. Sinai map." 29 And that Lawrence did not try to enlist for active service is corroborated by the note on Hart's script published in the Letters. There Lawrence says that he and Woolley (after completing The Wilderness of Zin) wrote to Newcombe"and asked his advice about a war job." Such jobs were very difficult to get, but Newcombe"told Cox, of the Intelligence, about us, and got our names on the waiting list." Waiting list for what? Obviously "a job" in Army Intelligence, for " Woolley lost heart, waiting, and wangled a Commission in the Artillery." 30
According to Lawrence, Hogarth then introduced him through an intermediary to Colonel Hedley, the head of the Geographical Section at the War Office, all of whose subordinate officers were then being

____________________

It was weeks after the outbreak of war that the height standard was temporarily raised.
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taken for France. According to Hedley, there were no intermediaries, and Lawrence turned up unsponsored and said the Army would not take him because he was too small. Hedley then promised to get him a commission. 31 According to Liddell Hart, Hedley already had "heard some good stories about Lawrence" from Newcombe, which one can well believe. They are not lacking here. Lawrence evidently told Liddell Hart that some time elapsed between his entering the War Office and receiving a commission in order to pass off the story that he was sent wearing civilian clothes to take some maps to General Rawlinson, who "nearly had a fit when he saw me," and said "I want to talk to an officer." Whereupon Hedley said he must have a commission, which he obtained without a medical examination; which surely implies that the commission was not for fighting? 32
But in a letter from Oxford, dated 19th October, 1914, Lawrence tells his correspondent that he and Woolley were doing nothing -although they were full of intentions. 33 The Army List for NovemberDecember, 1914, lists Lawrence's appointment under date, 23rd October, 1914, as "Temp. 2nd Lieut.-Interpreter." It may of course have been ante-dated, but why "interpreter" in the Map Department. That he intended to stick to office work in which he could find some object that would offer him a proper opportunity for his special gifts and intelligence seems clearly indicated by the remark in an undated letter after he joined the War Office Staff. This was to the effect that the Staff could hardly get rid of him as he knew their secrets. Although he had no definite appointment, he had hopes. 34 He was not unique in preferring to exercise his ingenuity against the enemy rather than becoming cannon fodder, but it is typical that he would not admit it. Lawrence's conception of his duties was strictly personal, for when told to provide a map of Sinai he put together and delivered the 68 manuscript sheets -- "some of it was accurate and the rest I invented," which obviously would save troops many casualties. 35 The reader will perhaps not be surprised to learn that within three weeks Colonel Hedley admitted to somebody that young Lawrence was running his entire department. 36 And it is a fact that all the other officers of the department had gone to the front. 37

The cloud of respectable witnesses to these recruiting stories would seem to settle the matter beyond dispute, until we realise that all repeat stories originating in Lawrence and not what they personally ob-


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served. On the other hand that solitary and neglected "did not try to enlist" in Liddell Hart's notes was evidently contradicted by Lawrence after the writing of Hedley's letter. 38 From the point of view of the Lawrence legend it was evidently right and decorous that the hero should have tried to do his bit as a private or subaltern in a line regiment. The height story was a perfect alibi, though the exact date on which the standard was raised is nowhere given -- I am assured that it was in fact not raised until after Lawrence went to the War Office, but the item is unimportant. Lawrence's patriotism was always self-assertive rather than self-sacrificing, and it is not denied that he was "intensely ambitious" at this time. If he really hoped to become a general, it was an immense step upward to start the war on the Staff and to avoid the waste of time involved in rising by merit above the mob of temporary second lieutenants. That Sinai survey was indeed, as he said, "a very fortunate stroke" -- for him. And there is the irrefutable fact that with Newcombe in France and Woolley in the Artillery, Lawrence was the only man in England who knew anything about that last season's survey. If the Entente had not declared war on the Turkish Government -- as Lawrence feared it might not -- then he had a second line for promotion; and if it did, well, he was at the centre of things, and not likely to be overlooked when an expanded Intelligence was thought necessary in the Middle East.
There seems to have been something irregular -- at least from the bureaucratic point of view -- about this commission as SecondLieutenant Interpreter. Lawrence informed Liddell Hart that in 1919 "someone" told him he had never been properly commissioned. 39 In 1922 he wrote to Bernard Shaw that he had "had the utmost difficulty in getting a gratuity of £110 from the War Office when they demobilised me." 40 Lawrence's numbers are to be taken with caution, but if this sum is correct (which it may be) then this was a ridiculously small sum for a man with Lawrence's length of service (nearly five years), with two years as a temporary field officer. It was the gratuity of a second lieutenant with about eighteen months' service. It would be interesting to have this explained. Perhaps, from a bureaucratic point of view, the period when he sat at a desk in Cairo was military service; and the period when he was Political and Liaison Officer to Feisal, blowing up trains and scurrying about with Bedouin Arabs in
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conditions of discomfort and occasional acute danger, not military service? Or was it the penalty of getting into the Army by way of the Staff of the recruiting office? Or did they get his dossier mixed up with that of the other Thomas Edward Lawrence who was gazetted a second lieutenant in the Royal Sussex Regiment in 1918? In any event the fact -- if it is a fact -- does not imply much official esteem for his war services.
Since Lawrence was not in the Army when he wrote his letter of the 19th October, and the Army List gives the 23rd as the date of his commission, it is practically certain that this was his date of entry, about a week before war was declared by England and France on the Turkish Government. This was another "most fortunate stroke" in Lawrence's war career. If Turkey had remained neutral, he must inevitably have been sooner or later forced out to France, most probably to meet the fate of his two younger brothers. Captain Hart tells us that the regular Intelligence service at Cairo was so poor that for competent information about the Turkish Army they had to rely on the superior knowledge of a journalist, Philip Graves. He adds that Colonel Hedley recommended Lawrence as an officer ideally suited for Intelligence work in Egypt. 41 However that may be, this new situation meant that anyone with any knowledge of the Middle East and (especially) of the right people in England was sure to be sent out. Marmaduke Pickthall, possibly the greatest Oriental scholar of them all, had to be left out because he was more pro-Turkish than pro-British, and, like Philby, eventually became a Moslem. But a less rabid Turcophile, Aubrey Herbert, M.P., was selected to go to Cairo, with another M.P., George Lloyd, afterwards Lord Lloyd, and Clayton and Storrs -- the real brains of all this complex Middle Eastern intrigue. Newcombe was brought back from France, Woolley and Lawrence were warned, and the whole party set out in December, Newcombe and Lawrence going ahead of the others on the 9th December. Later, they were joined by Hogarth and Gertrude Bell, and eventually were absorbed into the Arab Bureau. This transfer brought Lawrence promotion to the rank of Staff Captain with seniority of the 15th December, 1914. Thus in seven weeks Lawrence had reached a rank which might have taken years to attain if he had actually joined the British Army as a friendless private or second lieutenant on the Western Front.
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Although there is absolutely no contemporary evidence available that he had any such thought, it is the fact that after the war Lawrence claimed that "since about sixteen years of age" he had been "filled with the idea of freeing people and had chosen Arabs as the only suitable ones left." 42 But if this was so, it is surprising that for two years of the war Lawrence limited himself to Intelligence work at a desk in Cairo, with no more active service efforts than leaves and official Cook's tours to Athens, the Senussi Desert and Kut el Amara. 43 Even when he visited the Hejaz with Storrs for the first time in October, 1916, it was with no intention of fighting, since he told Feisal that his "duties in Cairo excluded field work" but that "perhaps" his chiefs would let "me pay a second visit later on." 44 (In fact, as we shall see when the time comes, he was considerably surprised when Clayton told him bluntly he had got to go back.) This does not look like any burning enthusiasm for taking up the practical military work of "freeing a people."
As a matter of fact Lawrence merely went from the map department in London to the map department in Cairo. 45 The reaction of the bureaucrats there ("who is this extraordinary little pip-squeak?" 46 ) has already been noted.
G.H.Q. at that time was in the old Savoy Hotel at Cairo, about two miles from the offices of the Egyptian Survey at Giza; and Lawrence used a motor bicycle for riding to and fro as well as for later visits to the Government Press at Bulaq. Dowson remembered him as an insignificant second lieutenant, his light hair ruffled, his cap askew and with no belt. 47 He proceeded at once to assert himself by severely criticising the system of transliterating Arabic place names which had been set up (as Lawrence probably knew) by the Director of the Reproduction Office, W. H. Crosthwaite, who had studied the subject for months and had discussed it with the experts. 48 What Lawrence's qualifications for criticism were then is not clear, but his knowledge of written Arabic could not have been great. 49 And when he himself later was challenged on the discrepancies of transliteration in Seven Pillars, he retorted angrily that he spelt his names as the mood took him to show how little he thought of the systems. 50 It is not surprising that Crosthwaite was taken aback at his impertinence, while Logan, the head of the Map Compilation Office in Cairo, was gravely insulted at having to take orders from a newly appointed
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Although there is absolutely no contemporary evidence available that he had any such thought, it is the fact that after the war Lawrence claimed that "since about sixteen years of age" he had been "filled with the idea of freeing people and had chosen Arabs as the only suitable ones left." 42 But if this was so, it is surprising that for two years of the war Lawrence limited himself to Intelligence work at a desk in Cairo, with no more active service efforts than leaves and official Cook's tours to Athens, the Senussi Desert and Kut el Amara. 43 Even when he visited the Hejaz with Storrs for the first time in October, 1916, it was with no intention of fighting, since he told Feisal that his "duties in Cairo excluded field work" but that "perhaps" his chiefs would let "me pay a second visit later on." 44 (In fact, as we shall see when the time comes, he was considerably surprised when Clayton told him bluntly he had got to go back.) This does not look like any burning enthusiasm for taking up the practical military work of "freeing a people."
As a matter of fact Lawrence merely went from the map department in London to the map department in Cairo. 45 The reaction of the bureaucrats there ("who is this extraordinary little pip-squeak?" 46 ) has already been noted.
G.H.Q. at that time was in the old Savoy Hotel at Cairo, about two miles from the offices of the Egyptian Survey at Giza; and Lawrence used a motor bicycle for riding to and fro as well as for later visits to the Government Press at Bulaq. Dowson remembered him as an insignificant second lieutenant, his light hair ruffled, his cap askew and with no belt. 47 He proceeded at once to assert himself by severely criticising the system of transliterating Arabic place names which had been set up (as Lawrence probably knew) by the Director of the Reproduction Office, W. H. Crosthwaite, who had studied the subject for months and had discussed it with the experts. 48 What Lawrence's qualifications for criticism were then is not clear, but his knowledge of written Arabic could not have been great. 49 And when he himself later was challenged on the discrepancies of transliteration in Seven Pillars, he retorted angrily that he spelt his names as the mood took him to show how little he thought of the systems. 50 It is not surprising that Crosthwaite was taken aback at his impertinence, while Logan, the head of the Map Compilation Office in Cairo, was gravely insulted at having to take orders from a newly appointed
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amateur fresh from England. This sudden attack on Crosthwaite's methods was characteristic of Lawrence's strategy in trying to establish a superiority over people he met. 51
Further on in the same essay Sir Ernest Dowson has a passage of rather striking severity. He says that it was not merely the pompous and the incompetents who were alienated by Lawrence's ways. There were men of first-class ability and sound common-sense who objected to his frivolous and impudent attitude. They thought his wearing of Arab dress histrionic and melodramatic, and considered him an actor whose cheap exploits were the result of the power of the gold so lavishly put at his disposal. 52 We are not told whether these men were civilians or soldiers (doubtless both), for there is evidence that many professional soldiers disliked him as much as he pretended to despise them. This dislike later produced from Lawrence and his adherents a corresponding over-valuing of his achievements, and among these adherents were a few professional soldiers. One such enthusiast remarks moderately: "In my considered opinion, Lawrence was the greatest genius whom England has produced in the last two centuries." 53

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