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T. E. Lawrence Studies list

January, 1998

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Threads: January 1998

The Lawrence family 77
Turkish books about TEL? 78
Irishness 79
A Few Points 80
TEL discussion 81
Biographical problems 82
Saudi attitudes towards TEL 83
Analysis of Lawrence's strategy 84, 86
Arab reactions to Lawrence 85
Widian and Midian? 87-9
Lawrence and the press 90, 92-3, 102, 104, 106-7, 111
TEL's War records 91
Research enquiries 94, 100
TEL and Leonard Woolley 95
Travel in Middle East 96-8
Use of "Sidi" 99
TEL exhibition at Brown University 101
Railway research 103, 110, 114-19
TEL in Arabic 105, 109
The ranks of the RAF 108
New book 112
About TEL's tactics 113

0077) From: Bob Archibald, UK
Date: Fri, 02 Jan 1998 04:15:04 EST
Subject: Re: The Lawrence family

The probability of having "n" children of the same gender in a row, in advance of the birth of the first (and especially when we're ignorant of the father's chromosomal proclivities) may well be small. If we assume that the probability of the birth of a boy (or a girl) is 1/2, and that the genders of successive children are independent of one another, we could calculate that the probability of (say) four boys in a row would be 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2, or 1/16 (i.e., 6.25%). This is TA's example of flipping a coin, and it's not a bad starting point.

Which reminds me of the old sailor's superstition; that the safest place to be, when your ship is being bombarded, is where the last cannon ball hit.  Not so. If the hits are randomly distributed over your ship, it is true that, "in advance" of a hit on a particular spot, the odds that "two shots in a row" will strike that spot are small. But once the first has struck that spot, the odds that the "next" will do so are the same as the odds that "any" particular spot will be hit. On the other hand, if the gunners on the enemy ship are very good, and they're aiming for the magazine on yours, standing by the magazine because the last ball struck near there, is definitely the wrong thing to do. Which brings us back to the question of a man with a demonstrated proclivity for fathering boys.

What we might want to know is what, based on the children born so far, is the probability that the next child born will be of the same gender? After Bob (child number "one") was born, the probability that the next child would be a boy was no longer 50%. The "conditional probability" that the next child would be a boy is (n+1)/(n+2) = (>1<+1)/(>1<+2) = 2/3 = .67, or 67%. After Ned (child number two) was born in 1888, the odds that the next child would also be a boy had risen to (2+1)/(2+2) = 3/4, or 75%. After Will and the three boys who were born dead (or died immediately after birth) were born (now, a total of seven), the probability that the last (Arnold) would be a boy was (7+1)/(7+2)=89%. Still not a sure thing, but it had become obvious that it wouldn't be wise to bet against Thomas fathering another boy.

[Disrespectful note by JW: Could all this justify a theory that alcoholics father girls? ;-)

After all, Chapman had four daughters with his previous partner, during a period when he was by his own admission drinking heavily. He was 'cured' by Sarah Lawrence, and promptly developed a proclivity for producing boys! (or maybe it was just that he was older....)]


0078) From: MC, Spain
Date: Fri, 2 Jan 1998 11:03:06 -0400
Subject: Turkish books about TEL?

Is there any document or book about TEL's actions during the war written by Turkish authors? Has any western writer consulted war-time documents from the Turkish Government?


0079) From: KH, USA
Date: Sat, 03 Jan 98 19:00:27 PST
Subject: Irishness

I think one of the reasons someone like me remains silent is the shock of realising that the answer (or at least the considered opinion) of those steeped in material about Lawrence will be generously forthcoming; what I've already found out is very illuminating.

I've wondered for many years how important Ireland was to Lawrence. I understand that he never set foot in the country. How Irish did the father seem to his sons, or did his Eton accent obscure his background? I know that Lawrence had many books about Ireland in his library, but was this partly the influence of the Shaws? What was the impulse behind his desire to write a biography about Casement? He accepted an Irish honour (a literary one, granted). Is part of the pervasive hostility to Lawrence in England a sense of his unacknowledged Irishness? (That last question is a bit mischievous; I was born in America, but have lived thirty years in England).


0080) From: Harold Orlans
Date: Mon, 5 Jan 1998 10:37:43 -0500
Subject: A Few Points

I am late commenting on several points, having spent two weeks wandering under the pines of Rome. The sun was out and the orange and lemon trees were full of fruit. No wonder the Romans abandoned Britain for home.

1. According to Jeremy Wilson, the thin volume of "Letters from Dr. M.R. Lawrence (eldest brother of Lawrence of Arabia) to Stanhope Landick (a Jerseyman)" was privately printed for Landick in Jersey in 1981. Neither the Huntington nor the Bodleian apparently has a copy of this rare little item.

2. M.R. Lawrence was a kind man, not overly bright (failing his first exam for a medical license), who had difficulty writing a letter (and, perhaps, thinking) without invoking the will of God or Christ. He seems to have worked on the collection of his three brothers' letters for many years. In the introduction, he says, "It was the Grace of God which made my brothers what they were and to me these letters are sacred." Not so sacred as not to be tampered with. Basil Blackwell could not understand the rationale of his many deletions and asked A. W. Lawrence, who, as T. E.'s literary executor, had final authority over authorizing the publication, if he approved of the manuscript. A. W. replied, yes. Had A.W. edited the letters, there would probably have been fewer deletions, but, I imagine, he did not want to fight with his older brother.

3. Konrad Morsey provides a good appraisal of Lawrence's contribution to military strategy in Stephen Tabachnick's The T. E. Lawrence Puzzle (1984, pp. 185-203). Andrew Carvely told the May 1995 Lawrence conference in San Marino that Mao Tse Tung and his commanders were influenced by the strategy outlined in Seven Pillars, which they read in a Chinese translation, and that Lawrence's ideas on guerrilla warfare were studied at Sandhurst and other military colleges. It would be useful to know just which colleges were interested in Lawrence and if this interest is maintained today: for example, did any of the generals involved in Desert Storm know or care anything about Lawrence? I can testify that, in 1963, the director of information services for the U.S. Defense Department was a narrow computerologist with no interest or knowledge of lessons that the military might draw from such works as War and Peace or Seven Pillars.

4. I have read the seven instalments, to date, of Jeremy Wilson's discussion of my article on "The Hero Who Despised Himself" and appreciate the thoughtful attention he has given to it. When he has finished, I will post a reply.

[Note by JW: More 'thoughts provoked by' than 'discussion of', I think - but yes, I'll probably come back with more when life is a bit less hectic than it has been this week...]


0081) From: KD, UK
Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 00:44:21 +0100
Subject: Re: TEL discussion

I too have been one of the silent ones and I realise now that an opinion does not have to be 'expert' to be valid. I became interested in TEL while living and working in Saudi Arabia. I had the good fortune to visit many parts of the Hejaz Railway (and come away with a few bits of it) and Lawrence's early Hejaz routes. Some that I can confidently say few if any non-bedouin have seen or visited since he (and the Turks) were there. I was living and working in Saudi from '85 to August '96.

I might add, KH (post #062), that the 'acrid atmosphere' or resentment you mention is really not present within Saudi. The probable reason being that the run-of-the-mill Saudi is never taught or told much Saudi history that is non-bedouin or Islamic. Outside I can understand the resentment given the way the Arabs and TEL's dreams for the area were dashed after WWI.

Yes it is an area of the world that needs understanding and my readings on Lawrence and the birth of the modern Middle East have helped immensely. It is a beautiful area with kind and friendly people.


0082) From: St.John Armitage, UK
Date: 1/6/98 3:48:09PM
Subj: Biographical problems

Jeremy Wilson's classification of the approach and motives of some of the biographers and journalists (and their publishers) adds a balance to Harold Orlans' recounting of the problems biographers encounter with Lawrence's version of events. However, we should not lose sight of the root cause of those problems, so well expressed by Harold Orlans in the conclusion to his earlier article on the subject "Obstacles to the Scholarly Biography of Contemporaries" (TENotes October-November 1995):

"No biographer has yet drawn a better portrait of Lawrence than the contradictory, elusive, yet compelling picture he presents in his own writing. Biographers have grappled with but not surmounted the ideas and images his forceful mind and pen have imposed on them."

Some writers evade that obstacle in diverse ways as I demonstrated in a paper given to the 1992 TELSoc Symposium (TELSoc Journal 1994) in which I said:

"In T.E.Lawrence by His Friends (Jonathan Cape 1937), the late Lord Wavell wrote "He will always have his detractors, those who sneer at the 'Lawrence legend'.... They knew not the man".  . . . "Wavell was not to know the detractors who were to come. Those who knew neither the man, nor, for most of them, even the men who knew the man; those who have seized on, elaborated, exaggerated and fabricated to no less a degree than Lowell Thomas's adulatory account, but to a different end. Access to the minutiae of contemporary records has been used less to enlighten than dissemble. Thus a whole corpus of misinformation has accumulated, obscuring both the truth and the subject. One sad result of this so-called research, much of it having no more authority than the mere fact of its publication, is that it has become source material often more likely to be quoted than examined or refuted, merely because it is conveniently to hand. Unfortunately, as this paper will show, rebuttal of the falsehood, half-truth and speculative often requires considerable detail although a simple dismissal i.e "Rubbish" should suffice."

I concluded:

"... perhaps the best to be said about the detractors - those who allow their prejudices to overcome the quality of their subject - is C.M. Woodhouse's conclusion after reading Aldington (T.E. Lawrence: New Legends or Old Twentieth Century, March 1955). He wrote "To have sent us back to re-examine the evidence from the beginning is a serious service; to have confused the evidence with spite and speculation is not". I would add that to traduce the evidence is a serious disservice - in any subject."

Woodhouse's verdict on Aldington is also sound advice. I was reminded of it by a minor work "How Well Did Lowell Thomas Know Lawrence of Arabia?" by Fred D. Crawford and Joseph A. Berton (English Literature in Transition 1880-1920 Vol 39:3 1996). Examination of this article - study would be a misnomer - serves as a good example of misrepresentation of one aspect of Lawrence's life.

The authors claim that:

"Lawrence frequently repudiated Thomas's show [the 1919 film, slides and lecture], presenting himself as Thomas's unwilling victim and even claiming that the publicity . . . had ruined his life. In private correspondence, he complained about Thomas's distortions and inaccuracies, denying that he himself had had anything to do with the creation of the Lawrence legend. However, recently discovered evidence [in the Thomas papers] reveals a very different picture of Lawrence's involvement with Thomas's show." They then proceed to a conclusion that "it was typical of Thomas's generous spirit to take a charitable view of Lawrence's backbiting comments", portraying Thomas as the injured party, mainly by subjective quotation.

Neither the allegations of their introduction (later repeated) nor conclusion bear examination. "Frequently repudiated", "ruined his life" and "complained" are total exaggerations. In his published letters (Garnett and Brown) Lawrence mentions Thomas about sixteen times. In none does he repudiate the film/lecture, only mentioning that Thomas "seems to have realised my 'star' value on the film", "made me a kind of matinee idol", "I was in fancy dress, and so made a good star for his film".

As for the allegation that the publicity ruined his life, Lawrence's strongest words were in respect of Thomas's articles in Asia magazine which "are making life difficult for me" (a statement no more critical of Thomas than the latter's own admission that "the praise I have given him has embarrassed him exceedingly"). He "complained" - by way of correcting Thomas - in only two letters, and those were in reply to others rather than correspondence initiated by him, as were the few very brief, general disavowals of Thomas most of which followed publication of different editions of With Lawrence in Arabia. He acknowledged that Thomas omitted much of the "red-hot lying" of the Asia articles from With Lawrence in Arabia.

Some of the authors' claims are plainly ridiculous. Thomas's "enviable authority in discussions of this enigmatic hero" did not last until 1977 as suggested - as distinct from, perhaps, the popularity of With Lawrence of Arabia. The allegation that Graves's Lawrence and the Arabs "included several denigrating remarks about Thomas" is untrue. He wrote that Thomas had written an "inaccurate and sentimental account" - which is true - and that the "advertising of him [Lawrence] by the Press and . . . Thomas's cinema-lecture tour had proved most unwelcome to him" - hardly stronger than Thomas's admission about the consequences of the publicity he gave Lawrence. None of the other five references are denigrating: three are plain contradictions, one is favourable comment by Young and one Thomas's version of Lawrence's first meeting with Faisal offered to the reader as alternative to Lawrence's.

There are other inaccuracies. The authors give no authority for their statement that Lawrence insisted that the English edition of Thomas's book should include a disclaimer protecting him. The record shows that in response to a minute by Lawrence (still an official) outlining political not personal reasons for official intervention, the Foreign Office wrote to the publisher - with no mention of Lawrence. There is nothing to show any further action by Lawrence before publication in 1925, but it is said that he attributed the disclaimer to that earlier intervention by the Foreign Office.

The authors treatment of their material seems superficial. They show no signs of having attempted to correlate Thomas's papers with the Asia articles, With Lawrence in Arabia or his contribution to T.E.Lawrence by His Friends. Their statement that "the extent of Lawrence's help becomes clear" from Thomas's "Palestine" notebook and his wife's diary lacks that corroboration. Thomas's notes are said to be "rich in detail . . . not lavish with dates", but the authors' attributions to Lawrence are suspect. Not least, they fail to mention that much of the information in Thomas's notebook was collected by him from many other sources whom he warmly acknowledged.

The presentation of Thomas as a primary source is lacking in important detail, including the sequence of his entries. There is no indication that a seven-page entry which they claim "reveals Lawrence as the source of sundry questionable statements" took place in Jerusalem or Aqaba. If the latter, this would increase the likelihood of the entry including other sources, especially as the authors only note Thomas quoting Lawrence directly on one subject. Thomas had recorded "he is an Ameer of the Hejazs [sic] and only white man ever made a Sherif....", for which claim the authors state Lawrence was the source. But they do not comment on the heading to Thomas's entry 'King of the Hejaz' or the possibility of that style being conceived by Thomas who merely reduced the rank to better fit his romancing. Lawrence's status "as an Amir of Mecca" appears to have been added in the final entry of the notebook - apparently some days after Lawrence's departure - so suggesting a secondary source. The authors found that only six letters from Lawrence to Thomas have come to light, the latest referred to dated 17 December, 1919. It was also the longest, but still less than one hundred and fifty words and only concerning arrangements for family and friends. As the first record of Lawrence criticising Thomas (Brown p.171) is dated 20 January, 1920, there might have been more substance in their claim that these letters "belie the impression he was giving to others" if the authors had described that impression or dated it. (Lawrence wrote in reply to Murray who would appear to have been offended, not by the film, but by Thomas's writings.

Absence of reference to Thomas in Lawrence's correspondence with Liddell Hart in T.E. Lawrence: Letters to His Biographers [Graves and Liddell Hart], is offset by the latter's response to Thomas in 1952 that "T.E. was very unjust, and also ungrateful, in what he said to me [L-H] and others about your book". But the authors do not remark on the fact that Liddell Hart made no mention of his sentiments in his articles about Lawrence or later editions of his biography, nor did they explain what prompted Thomas to approach Liddell Hart on this point seventeen years after Lawrence's death. His reply, therefore, might have been no more than a placatory shut-off.

One question not addressed by the authors is the duration of the Thomas-Lawrence relationship. Thomas wrote in 1967 "as long as we were in touch with each other I believe we were good friends" and there is no reason to doubt those words. But that period was very brief, amounting to two meetings in Jerusalem, meetings over five to six days at the most in the Aqaba area, and an undefined number of meetings and exchanges in London between August 1919 and March, 1920. A letter in November, 1920 appears to be the last record of contact and the end of the relationship seems to have been in that year rather than after a number of years as Thomas implied in 1935. No correlation between Frances Thomas's "Daylogue" and her statement that Thomas "is writing the Lawrence book and works on it nearly every morning" leaves uncorroborated Thomas's claim that Lawrence walked regularly twelve miles to Richmond to work with him. When did the Thomas's move to Richmond? Might that not account for fewer visits for Frances to record. She "carefully recorded" that Lawrence "has been working on a book of the Arabian campaign" but had lost the manuscripts. That entry suggests it was made soon afterwards and its date might narrow the period of the loss or even point to Thomas as being the "friend" who gave the story to the Evening Standard in January, 1920. It was overlooked by Thomas who, in 1935, claimed that "Lawrence told him he did not intend to write a book".

As for the period 1920-35, the relationship was between Thomas with his Lawrence creations rather than with the man: the film-lecture, the biography, the biography for boys and the 1927 Hutchinson edition (published to compete with Graves's work). If the authors had quoted in full Thomas's letter of 29 May 1935 to Korda it might indicate that after Lawrence's death he was quicker to realise the potential in a revival of interest in Lawrence, in an attempt to involve himself with Korda's projected film, than "many of the complaints about the film-lecture, articles and book had originated from Lawrence". But none of the examples quoted by the authors from 1935 to 1967 substantiate their claim; indeed, his 1967 letter shows that he was aware of "less than complimentary comments" by Lawrence at the time when they "were in touch with each other and good friends."

Apart from their superficial presentation of the Thomas material, the authors inexplicably ignore Jeremy Wilson's references to the Lawrence-Thomas relations in his authorised biography, his amendments based on the same "recently discovered" Thomas papers (JTELS  Winter 1992-93) and his paper "Some thoughts on Lawrence and Lowell Thomas" (JTELS Autumn 1994).

Yet I have seen the Crawford and Berton article commended "as an excellently written and researched piece". It is an excellent example of the obstacles faced by students of Lawrence set out by Jeremy Wilson and Harold Orlans - to which I subscribe. Thus the portrayal of Thomas's "generous spirit" is a poor case for Thomas set in an even more inaccurate, incomplete and misleading description of the Lawrence version. It is wholly constructed to answer Lawrence's question "Have I deserved a Lowell Thomas?" to his discredit. It barely addresses the question of its title. Both Lawrence and Thomas knew what they were doing - neither chose to condemn the other. Wilson's "Thoughts" presents a better picture of the relationship, but whether there is a Thomas version to surmount the Lawrence version is a question which will remain unanswered until full juxtaposition of both the Lawrence and Thomas papers is possible.


0083) From: St.John Armitage
Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 16:35:18 -0500
Subject: Saudi attitudes towards TEL

I welcome KD's dismissal of the "acrid atmosphere", an erroneous description in respect of most of the Middle East notwithstanding the very bitter feelings about Palestine. Teaching of history does embrace more than "beduin" and Islamic history - the ruling family of Al Saud are not beduin - but the Saudis are too occupied with their own lives and the pace of progress they have set for themselves to spend much time dwelling on the past. However, KD obviously made the most of his time in Saudi Arabia and I am glad that he seems to have enjoyed his time there. Unfortunately we usually hear only of the unhappy - or worse -cases.

But how many is "a few" visitors to the railway? I personally knew twenty in the forties whose work took them to the area when the westerners in Hijaz did not number more than about three hundred. In the late sixties and early seventies they were in their tens of thousnds and visits to the railway were more common but still confined to a few adventurers. I knew or knew of about forty expeditions of various numbers, but am sure there were many more from teachers and engineers working between Madina and Tabuk especially.

With the increasing freedom to travel (and speed of access before having to go off the road) in the eighties railway expeditions became even more popular and remain so. Only last month I met two of the many Riyadh groups who had been to Madain Salih in November and they were planning to return on Christmas camping trips. One member sent me a message last week that he had been able to buy a 1900 Hejaz Railway Medal struck to reward voluntary donations sent to fund the railway. But even if hundreds of visitors a year visit the area the numbers are few in the context of total westerners in that country.


0084) From: GD, France
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 1998 13:50:38 GMT
Subject: Re: Analysis of Lawrence's strategy

Correction: I certainly don't find the whole of Mr Mousa's book boring (post #55) , it is on the contrary a quite precious and interesting work. The long list of verifications concerning Lawrence's military operations and movements during the war might nevertheless be found a little difficult to follow for someone who is not exactly looking for that type of information, which was my case. My comment was therefore a strictly personal view on one aspect of the work, which is remarkable in many other aspects (and probably remarkable for those very verifications to someone who is looking for it) I once again recommend it and apologize for having used a word which was actually inaccurate to describe my true appreciation of the book.


0085) Date: Thu, 8 Jan 1998 21:48:31 +0100
From: KD, UK
Subject: Arab reactions to Lawrence

I arrived in Saudi with a fairly open mind I thought, but it was really only as I read deeper into the circumstances of the recent history of the whole area that I came to appreciate more the 'Arab' view. In many ways I believe Britain behaved shamefully over the whole period, but it was the end of the War To End Wars and I am now old enough to know that politics is often a shameful business even in peacetime.

A shining example of the Arabs I met were the middle aged man, Nawaf and his father Muayed,who are the 'curators' at Azrak castle in Jordan. The father was a boy when TEL was at the castle and his father was in the Arab forces at the time TEL was there. (i got them both to autograph Jeremy Wilson's book) They were both friendly, helpful and hospitable. Nothing was a trouble even though they must be pestered by many people in the touist season. The tales of Arab hospitality are generally true. We shared many an impromptu meal (including fresh camel milk!) in the desert with various groups.

Politically I found the Saudis to be astute and aware. They were, as KH found with her student friends, always eager to discuss and argue points of view. Never did I find a lack of respect for a view opposed to theirs although mine did sometimes. There is a real hunger for education as often in recently developed countries, and this adds to their desires to learn in all situations. My wife found this also amongst the women - she worked for a period in a Saudi girls school.

I have been encouraged by the responses to my initial hesitant postings and I would encourage any other lurkers out there to join in.


0086) Date: Thu, 8 Jan 1998 21:12:48 +0100
From: KD, UK
Subject: Re: Analysis of Lawrence's strategy

In reply to St. John Armitage:

I said a 'few' for a couple of reasons. Firstly because even if a hundred non-bedouin visitors a year had been at the railway there would currently still have been only just over 8100 visitors. (compare with the average daily visits to some museums and other sites). There certainly have not been an average of 100/year. Bear in mind that I am talking about the railway within the borders of Saudi Arabia with its restrictive entry regulations. Secondly that my visits were off the usual ex-pat Hejaz Railway expedition route. One of my most memorable being a (solo) trip I took to retrace the route of his first visit to the railway and the attack on Aba El Naam station.

The 'usual' route for expats is to travel North of Madinah on very good highways (a high use pilgrim route between Jordan and Madinah) and branch off West to Al Ula and Medain Saleh and thence down the railway track route back towards Madinah. Our main group trip taken on this route was a five day one camping as we travelled down.

My trip took me on the smaller coastal road up towards Yanbou and Wej and then East into the desert hills on tracks up to Al Ais where TEL was so ill for days in Abdullah's camp. This approach - via Wadi Hamdh - brings one to the track from the East and I ascended and photographed the line from the same hill as TEL mentioned ascending on 28 march 1917 in chapter XXXIV of SP. (I took the liberty of naming this hill 'Lawrence Hill' ).

Unfortunately my search for artillery casings in the area of the hill proved fruitless. In fact I left metal there as when I packed up in the morning I left a cooking pan! An search of the station's cellars on an earlier visit did turn up leather boot soles and khaki cloth with buttons sewn on.(Turkish army?). A very sobering discovery at a few points along the railway including this station was the presence still of a number of graves with wind worn headstones (no inscriptions).

I must say that TEL's training in map work and reconnaisance is definitely born out in the way that all of the routes are described as if he had been there the week before us. Again of course the lack of roads and development is part of the reason also - nothing has been done to change things. A real thrill though to stop every few hours on the group trips and read the relevant section from SP as we progressed.


Note by JW:  I post both the following messages together. I was puzzled by the same thing. Perhaps St. John Armitage will explain.

In general, Lawrence used many variations in Arabic transliteration in the SP manuscript. This infuriated our non-Arabist proof-readers on the 1922 SP so much that we tried to elminate many of the variants. Lawrence may or may not, in his original manuscript, have been trying to make a point. I myself think that it was probably just lack of attention: he made no effort to be consistent. I don't think it was a deliberate attempt to be inconsistent. Thus, throughout most of SP 'Feisal' is spelt thus, but near the beginning he is also 'Faisal'. In many cases, Lawrence did not use a name often enough to decide on the spelling he would use: he just transliterated it afresh each time he used it. That goes along with his woefully inconsistent capitalisation and apparent ignorance of any system of punctuation. He didn't think these things were important.

In his defence, I should say that traditionally this kind of consistency has always been imposed on an author's work by the publisher's desk-editor, and not by the author. Of course, as authors get more experienced, they notice the changes made by desk-editors and try to simplify the process by getting it right first time.

Lawrence's remarks in response to the Cape proofreader in 1927 (when the spelling variations in Revolt in the Desert (inherited from the subscribers' SP) were pointed out to him) seem to me to be an attempt to make a virtue out of necessity! 


0087) From: JAHP, USA
Date: Thu, 08 Jan 1998 19:34:31 -0500
Subject: Widian and Midian?

On page 18 in the 1922 Seven Pillars, should the word "Widian" really be "Midian"?


0088) From: JAHP, USA
Date: Thu, 08 Jan 1998 20:20:50 -0500
Subject: Re: Widian or Midian?

Sorry to have bothered folks: seeing "Midian" on page 15 of the 1922 Seven Pillars and "Widian" on 18, I became confused and looked at some atlases - which gave the word only with an M. The regular old Seven Pillars, however, which I should have checked first, speaks of "Widian" and no "Midian". Obviously I've a lot to learn about geography!


0089) Date: Fri, 9 Jan 1998 15:38:30 -0500
From: St.John Armitage
Sbject: Re: Widian or Midian?

This is not a misprint. The land of Midian is north-west Hijaz roughly between al Madina and Aqaba and between sea and railway, not the land below Mecca and Taif, nor the district to the east of those towns..

"Widian" is the plural of "wadi". In certain contexts the wadis flowing to the Red Sea are referred to as "widian" as, also, are those of the great eastern-flowing wadis mentioned by Lawrence. His error on the latter was to have written "the Widian, the half-waste district of the great-water bearing valley....." instead of "the half-waste district of the Widian,
those great -water bearing valleys of......"

Here Lawrence sticks to a conventional transliteration of the Arabic, but rather strangely uses a capital letter so Widian appears misleadingly as a name. I took no notice of this when reading the proofs, assuming it to be a straightforward copying of the Oxford text. But whilst I understood it, I should have warned Jeremy Wilson that it might confuse non-Arabists.


0090) From: GD, France
Date: Sat, 10 Jan 1998 19:16:59 GMT
Subject: Lawrence and the press

I found very interesting the post by St. John Armitage (# 85) about Biographical Problems, especially its passage on the Thomas/Lawrence relationship. I would actually like to know more about this particular subject and am now wondering what book(s) could give me the information I need, since the article by Crawford and Berton is not reliable according to St. John Armitage. A work is mentioned at the end of the article: Wilson's "Thoughts"; could anyone give me the full reference of this book? I'm also looking for a more general study of the relationships between Lawrence and the press, and perhaps of the handling by the press of Lawrence related subjects after his death. What I'm trying to do is to study, if possible, the evolution of the image given of Lawrence by the popular press ( meaning not scholarly) over the years since the end of the war.


0091) From: Jeremy Wilson, UK
Date: Sun, 11 Jan 1998 04:20:43 -0500
Subject: TEL's War records
Today's Sunday Times (London) - which is available on the Internet (on the Times website) carries an article stating that Lawrence's wartime personal file is to be released by the War Office (presumably at the Public Record Office) next month.

The story focuses on the refusal of a VC - quoting Wingate's recommendation. The text of this document has, in fact, been available for years in the Wingate Papers (Durham) and was quoted in my biography. The reason for the refusal (treated here as a revelation) has also been known for years, from the same source. However, the comments by Whitehall staff will doubtless make amusing reading.

The final paragraph of the ST piece rests on a historical mix-up. The recommendation for a VC came in the wake of the capture of Akaba. At that time there was an embargo on references to Lawrence's pre-Akaba northern journey for Damascus, during which he had gained local information of tactical value.


0092) From: Claire Keith, Marist College, USA
Date: Sat, 10 Jan 1998 22:56:37 EST
Subject: Re: Lawrence and the press

Here are some references for GD, France:

Wilson, J. "Some Thoughts on Lawrence and Lowell Thomas" in the JTELS, Vol IV, No. 1, Autumn 1994.

Hodson, Joel. Lawrence of Arabia and American Culture, The Making of a Transatlantic Legend. Greenwood Press, 1995.

Also, just perusing Phil O'Brien's T.E.Lawrence, a Bibliography, will give you a reliable sense of the number and nature of articles in the popular press. They can confidently be assumed to seek and perpetuate the "juicy" bits, as Jeremy's latest experience made clear.

As for F. Crawford's and J. Berton's article, you need not dismiss it as unreliable. St John Armitage's points are valuable and well made, especially with regard to the attribution of material in Lowell Thomas's field diaries which cannot be proven, except in a few instances, to be a mere transcription of facts volunteered by Lawrence himself. All other quotes chosen by the authors are, in my mind, presented without distorsion of context and are faithful to the contents and overall "feel" of the Lowell Thomas papers. The tone of the article reflects the decision to give, vigorously, what must be construed as Lowell Thomas's side. This accounts to some of the statements to which Mr. Armitage takes exception, and I think many people would still choose to share his feelings, just as others may reconsider their opinion of Thomas once his papers are better known.

You will find that Hodson's book presents the same evidence of Lawrence' cooperation with Thomas in London for photo sessions. For the record, Fred and Joe deserve the credit for finding those uncropped negatives. The vagaries of publishing caused their findings to be presented in Hodson's book first.


0093) From: Jeremy Wilson
Date: Sun, 11 Jan 1998 05:09:11 -0500
Subject: Re: Lawrence and the Press

I think an important thing about the relationship between Lawrence and Lowell Thomas is that it should not be seen as 'Lawrence versus Lowell Thomas'.

When Thomas came to London in 1919, he wanted to develop a successful travelogue, which was of course his source of income. He must quickly have realised when the show was so successful in London that it was potentially a huge monney-spinner. Hence the change in title of the travelogue as soon as he began to grasp the British reaction.

Lawrence, for his part, at that time desperately needed press publicity to advocate the Arab cause. Therefore, at that particular moment, the publicity afforded by Thomas was a godsend to Lawrence, and Lawrence - who had lost the battle at the Peace Conference - was grateful and happy to exploit it. The publicity Lawrence gained through Thomas made possible Lawrence's subsequent political press campaign, and the ultimate popular pressure on the British Government that took Lawrence into the Colonial Office and led to the 1921 Cairo settlement.

Without the publicity created by Thomas, that might well not have happened. Churchill was neither the first nor the last politician to recognise the importance of enrolling famous and vociferous spokesmen on his side of the argument.

Where the 'interpreters' get it wrong is to suppose that Lawrence wanted the Thomas publicity for personal self-glorification. Like most other people, Lawrence found notoriety puzzling and intriguing, but he had little taste for it. He had already experienced adulation in a much stronger form during the entry into Damascus: read the end of the 1922 Seven Pillars: 'From that cup I drank as deeply as any man should do, when we took Damascus, and was sated with it.' Surely Lawrence's entire life after 1922 is evidence that he did not seek self-glorification.

The problem I have with the Crawford-Berton article is that the whole approach seems to reflect Crawford's personal background as an expert on, and personal admirer of, Richard Aldington. Given this background, it may be natural that Crawford tends to see Thomas as a man exploited and abused by Lawrence in the interests of personal vanity. As a trained research-historian (which I gather Crawford is not), I find that approach wholly inconsistent with the facts. Lawrence and Thomas used each other, and for a time both men were pleased with the results. Unfortunately, Thomas's use for Lawrence outlived Lawrence's use for Thomas. At that point, Thomas continued (he was making money), but Lawrence felt an increasingly desperate need to escape from the monster that he had helped to create. The rest is history.

I shall think better of Crawford if and when when he ceases to use his writings on topics such as Thomas as a vehicle for misconceived attempts to vindicate the conclusions reached by Richard Aldington. On the evidence of this article, we can expect more of the same.


0094) From: GD, France
Date: 11 Jan 98 11:36:40 +0000
Subject: Research enquiries

As I am at the moment writing a university dissertation on Lawrence, I need to get information on different fields. The points I'm trying to study at the moment are the following:

1. I need to find information about orientalism in British society, the way Middle Eastern themes were represented in Great Britain at the time of the war and afterwards (and maybe before as well). I would like to see if there can be any link between this and the popularity of Lawrence-related stories before and after his death.

2. I need to find a book about British policies in the Middle East in the twentieth century. I guess there must be hundreds of books corresponding to that description but that is where I need the personal opinion of the scholars who could answer me: I need something as objective as possible, but yet not a mere descriptive account. I'm more interested in the ideologies, political or else, involved in those policies than for instance in the military details.

3. Could anyone recommend to me a book or article on the relation between Lawrence and the popular press, and on the handling by the press of Lawrence related subjects after his death?


0095) From: JA, USA
Date: Sun, 11 Jan 1998 10:57:23 -0600
Subject: TEL and Leonard Woolley

Another "lurker" -- though I'm not sure I like that term -- emerges from
the wallpaper....

My interest in Lawrence derives from his pre-war background in archaeology, and particularly in his relationship with C. Leonard Woolley. As an archaeologist, I was familiar with Woolley's work long before I learned that Lawrence served as his assistant for three seasons (1912-1914) at Carchemish, the ancient capitol of the Hittites on the Euphrates in Syria.

Mack, in his biography of Lawrence, asserts that the two "were not personally close, and although they served together in Cairo during the war seem not to have corresponded thereafter." I put the question to those who have had the great fortune of exploring Lawrence's correspondence at the Bodleian: Is Mack's implication of a near-total absence of correspondence correct? I'd be curious to know what letters between them may exist in unpublished collections. I've found no letters between the two men in Lawrence's published correspondence, and in the biographies, only one clear reference: in 1921 Lawrence provided Woolley with slides taken at Carchemish, according to Woolley's biographer, H.V.F. Winstone.

Personally close or not, Woolley and Lawrence made a fabulous team at Carchemish. The story of their collaboration there is one of great adventure. Woolley tells the tale well in two popularized accounts Dead Towns and Living Men (1920) and Spadework in Archaeology (1953). (He perhaps tells it too well - Lawrence would grumble that Woolley had made a "circus" out of memories TEL cherished).

Although eight years younger than Woolley and a far less experienced excavator, Lawrence closed the gap with his sheer exuberance, his skill as a photographer and draftsman, his knowledge of Arabic and local cultures, his fearlessness under pressure, and most importantly his amazing ability to manage a rough-and-tumble workforce of up to 200 gun-toting Arabs and Kurds.

Perhaps I shouldn't question Mack - I'm not, after all, a psychologist. But I am an archaeologist. I know from experience that an archaeological dig, especially one in a remote area, fosters a unique kind of "closeness" among team members. The participants, through working and living together elbow to elbow for weeks and months, become all too familiar with oneanother's strengths and weaknesses. A dig owes its success not only to the individual capabilities of team members, but also to each's ability to live with their fellows' faults.

The work at Carchemish was a success. There is little evidence of animosity between them: only the kind of work-a-day quibbles one would expect. Lawrence in letters home poked mild fun at Woolley. Among Woolley's pet peeves, recorded in his contribution to TEL By His Friends, were Lawrence's occasional lapses in notetaking. Jeremy Wilson points out (in his biography of Lawrence) that Woolley's essay contains an undercurrent of antipathy toward Lawrence that sounds for the all the world to me like the surfacing of long-festering field camp grudges.

After the war, Woolley wrote to Kenyon at the British Museum, rejecting Lawrence's request to return with him to Carchemish. Quite politely, he let it be known that Lawrence's well-known views re: the French in Syria would create political complications for the dig. Winstone also suggests (on tenuous evidence) that Woolley was offended by TEL's role in the surrender at Kut. These postwar events aside, it seems to me that Woolley, through close association with TEL at Carchemish, probably reached the conclusion that his young assistant lacked the single-mindedness of purpose to become a serious scholar. Even at Carchemish, the two men were already following separate paths to different destinies. The war increased the distance between them, and for whatever reason, neither appears to have ever attempted to close the gap.

Incidentally, Woolley's war-time adventures, although hardly the makings for a David Lean film, were not altogether unexciting. Assigned to coastline surveillance and contraband intraception in the eastern Mediterranean, he seems to have pictured himself as something of a brigand, cruising around in a commandeered yacht. Taken prisoner after the yacht was sunk by a mine, Woolley spent the duration of the war in Turkish POW camps, honing his lecturing skills to "captive" audiences.


0096) From: KD, UK
Date: Sun, 11 Jan 1998 23:00:03 +0100
Subject: Travel in Middle East

I would encourage you to go to the Middle East. We were there, travelling quite a lot, for 11 years and certainly Saudi, Jordan and Egypt were some of the safest places I have lived in/visited. (Notably within 6 months of coming back to the UK my son was mugged at 4.30 in the afternoon in a Fulham park whilst walking a dog.). Tom (our son) was 4 when we moved to Saudi and 15 when we left and had an excellent start to life. Street crime is virtually unheard of in Saudi.

Our only reservation was a driving visit to Syria in 1994. Diplomatic relations had only just been restored with the UK and we wondered how we may be received. We were once again welcomed by all the residents we met. Again an interesting and hospitable people who have sometimes suffered at the hands of less than kind rulers. I would not hesitate in going if I were you. The main advice would be to talk to someone first about the culture and understand that females are held in different regard there. Particular awareness would be needed if your teenage daughters have only ever lived in a 'Western' culture. they would not have the freedom in some areas that they would be used to.

I have no plans to write a book just yet. I am doing my Masters Degree (distance learning) and I expect that to keep me busy for a while. I'll be happy to get a web page up before the summer ;-)


0097) Date: 1/13/98 8:20:05A
From: St. John Armitage
Subject: Re: Travel in the Middle East

KD rightly commends travel in the Middle East. However, I would point out that there is a considerable difference between residing in the Middle East and having a base there from which to travel, as distinct from plain tourism in that area with no day-to-day experience of local customs.

The ordinary tourist rarely enjoys the good in-depth experiences described by KD, but there are some very good package tours which insulate the tourist from possible problems with local customs. Tours in Jordan touch on some of Lawrence's travels but mainly avoid the least spoilt scenes of his activities.

To follow his travels in Syria requires a special programme. Absence of diplomatic relations with Syria (relations were resumed in November 1990) had little effect on those who travelled there and tourist facilities have improved immensely in the past five years.  Without the facility of sponsorship there is not the slightest chance of sharing KD's good fortune of following in Lawrence's footsteps in Saudi Arabia.

Egypt has to be approached with caution because of the activities of the terrorists, but many tourists have enjoyed recent tours because  cancellations have reduced the crowds.

Claire Keith might be able to offer good family advice on visiting Syria and Jordan: she prepared for her tour in an unusually thorough way and had the advantage of having friends in Jordan.


0098) Date: Tue, 13 Jan 1998 23:22:18 +0100
From: KD, UK
Subject: Re: Travel in the Middle East

I think that the bottom line is how cautious one is in all travel. I lived and worked in the Middle East for 11 years, have travelled twice to the Indian subcontinent and fairly extensively in Europe. Whilst in the Middle East many of the people I lived and worked with travelled to the Far East and Africa, I enjoyed discussing their travels with them.

In all of these journeys my philosophy has been to try not to be an 'ordinary tourist'. Or any other kind of 'tourist' for that matter. I would much rather (and often did) turn up in a city or location with possibly one or two days guest house type accomodation and go from there. I would certainly feel less safe these days in any group of obviously western tourists on package tours.

I agree that my situation was different to general visitors and I made that clear in my cautions to consult previous visitors and be fully aware of possible cultural clashes.


0099) Date: Wed, 14 Jan 1998 04:51:45, -0500
From: TPD, USA
Subject: Use of "Sidi"

In response to the request for amateurs to contribute, I am happy to respond. One of the advantages of being an amateur is that one can wander in many fields without remorse at being a master of none. In fact, one of the reasons I so enjoy the study of Lawrence is that he can be a jumping off point for so many different areas: English literature, art, early 20th century English social circles, the mid-east, archeology, mediaeval architecture, military arts, motorcycles, or linguistics. The last prompts this posting.

Before the Whittier list collapsed, someone had asked about the usage of the honorific "sidi" for Faisal. Mr Armitage responded comprehensively.  The following are some tangential historical comments for those who may be interested.

The word sid was in use in Christian Spain in the 11th century as a secular title (divorced from its reference to a descendant of Muhammad) equivalent to "lord" or senor - as remembered in connection with the national hero Rodrigo Diaz, the mercenary war lord who served both Christian and Moslem kings until making himself king of Valencia, and who is known historically as "El Cid." The epic poem of his exploits is known as the Poema de Mio Cid; literally "my sid" or, in Arabic, "sidi."

In addition to its usage in the Spanish epic, Richard Fletcher in his "Quest for El Cid" states that it was used in a Latin poem composed to celebrate a successful action by Alfonso VII in 1147, in which Rodrigo is referred to twice as "meo cidi." Fletcher opines that the use of the possessive "meo" (and "mio" in the Castilian epic) implies that other men, besides the authors of the poems, had their own lords with the same title. (Use of the double possessive, meo and the suffix "i," follows the common Spanish practice of incorporating prefixes and suffixes - as in El Alhambra, el alcazar, etc.)

Moving to more recent times, in George Stills's "A Prince of Arabia, " the biography of Shareef Ali Haidar, the emir of Mecca established by the Turks in opposition to Hussein during the War, there is a poignant moment after the war when (in 1926) Ali Haidar was still hopeful of playing a significant role. He was received in Beirut by Ronald Storrs who politely addressed him as "saidna" ("our lord," here with recognition of his sharifian descent). This usage apparently greatly raised the old man's spirits and hopes. However, when he kept an appointment with the High Commissioner in Jerusalem, he was snubbed.  Later, writing about his treatment, he stressed that "Storrs had addressed me as 'majesty' and 'Saidna,' inviting me to visit Jerusalem. I accepted his invitation, but find, on arrival, that I am virtually ignored."

0100) Date: Thu, 15 Jan 1998 10:36:04 PST
From: KL, USA
Subject: Re: Research enquiries

There are several books that I like on the subject. I couldn't decide on just one, so I'm giving you all of them. (Leave it to a librarian to  overkill a problem.)

Lawrence W. Moore wrote an interesting account of TEL's military strategy in Arabia: T.E. Lawrence: theorist and compaign planner, published by the School of Advances Studies, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, 1992.

Sulayman Musa wrote several books about the Arab campaign, including  Lurins wa-al-Arab (Lawrence and the Arabs) and T.E. Lawrence: An Arab view (published 1966).

Timothy Barclay's 1991 thesis from Central Missouri State University entitled, T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt: innovation and irregular warfare is particularly interesting, although hard to get.

Desmond Stewart's Aug. 1955 article in The European, "T.E. Lawrence and the Arabs: an analysis" may also be useful.

Many of these are accounts on military tactics, not specifically on the campaign. They are, however, very interesting in that they teach about the complexities of tactical planning during the revolt.

There are many more that I know of. Let me know if you need any more.


0101) Date: Thu, 15 Jan 98 17:45:25 EST
From: Kathi McGraw
Subject: TEL exhibition at Brown University

An exhibit of books by and about T.E. Lawrence will be held during March  1998 at the John Hay Library of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. (The exhibit will also include posters, periodicals, and other ephemera.)

The items are from the collection of the late Andrew Carvely. On March 20, a keynote address will be given by Phil O'Brien, Lawrence bibliographer and librarian of Whittier College, with a reception to follow. Come and savor the riches of Lawrence!


0102) Date: 15/01/98 17:34:55
From: Joseph Berton
Subject: Re: Lawrence and the presss

I would like to respond to points made recently regarding an article I co-authored with Fred Crawford, 'How Well Did Lowell Thomas Know Lawrence of Arabia' (English Literature in Transition 1880-1920 Vol. 39:3 1996)

The Lowell Thomas-Lawrence relationship is a fascinating one. We should be able to agree that each man had a great effect on the other, an effect that directly or indirectly would shadow them for the rest of their lives. Thomas, creating the Lawrence Legend, would create the public demand to know more about Lawrence. Lawrence, for his own reasons, cooperated with Thomas to some degree.

Our article makes use of original diaries, notes, documents, photos and negatives found in the Lowell Thomas archive at Marist College. Some of this material was first shared by Janet Riesman with Jeremy Wilson, myself and others. Jeremy made use of this material in two articles for JTELS. I pursued the archives interested primarily in Harry Chase and his wonderful photos of Arabia and Lawrence, taken while working with Lowell Thomas. Fred Crawford was doing a complete survey of the entire archive in preparation for a biography of Lowell Thomas. We found information in the archive that was extremely important and should not be overlooked by anyone interested in the Thomas-Lawrence relationship. Much of this we shared in our article.

The Marist material provides us with exact dates Lowell Thomas was in Arabia. It shows us that Lawrence and Thomas met many times* during the fall and winter of 1919. And what I think most interesting, it shows that Lawrence posed for additional photographs for Harry Chase during that time as well. These photographs of Lawrence in Arab robes are some of the best known of him and would make their appearance publicly as hand colored lantern slides in the Thomas travelogue and in the Strand articles of Thomas's starting in January 1920.

Why Lawrence would don his Arab robes and pose for additional photos is a good question to ask. We don't speculate to the reasons in our article. I tend to think of it as another example of Lawrence being curious about what an artist would produce, in this case Harry Chase. He had already posed for McBey in Damascus, John and others in Paris and would be a willing subject for many artists and photographers he admired. What he did do by posing again for Chase, this time in post war London, not Arabia, is give us the strongest visual images of "Lawrence of Arabia".

I am currently working on a project about Harry Chase and his photographs. This has involved not only doing research at the Marist archive, but the photo collections at the Imperial War Museum, The University of Texas and the Bodleian Library. This summer I plan to visit a number of these sites again. I'll keep the readers informed of my progress.

[*Note by JW: The number of times Lawrence and Thomas met in 1919 has been discussed more recently on the list. In my view they had fewer meetings than this statement implies.] 


0103) Date: 15/01/98 
From: KD, UK
Subject: Railway research

Does anyone have any information or links I can use to research some pieces of the Hejaz railway I have?

One is a piece of rail with 'GHH 1917' on it. Many of the wheel axle grase covers had the same initials on when inspected at Medain Saleh.

The other is a brass valve unit from the braking system of some rolling stock with a makers stamp of 'GEB Hardy - Wien' on it. I know the Wien is Vienna, the name looks English. I wonder if any English companies were working out of Vienna before WWI?

0104) From: MDM, USA
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 1998 05:41:26 -0500
Subject: Re: Lawrence and the press

I saw the movie last night, for the first time since 1962, on the wide theatre screen and realized that is the only real way to see this classic. I do have a question about the movie and Mr. Bentley who seems to be a stand in for Lowell Thomas. I saw Thomas on the Jack Paar show back in 62 where he and Arnold Walter Lawrence made all sorts of nasty comments about the movie. Did Thomas sell the rights to With Lawrence in Arabia to Spiegel and Lean or did he withhold them? I got the impression that he witheld them. What does the historical record say?

0105) From JR, Israel
Subject: TEL in Arabic
Date: 1/17/98 9:50:33PM

Today I bought a bibliography of books in Arabic about the Great Arab Revolt which contained a chapter about T.E.L. .

I found to my surprise 2 more titles which were translated to Arabic: Lowell Thomas was translated already in 1933 (Beirut) and Desmond Stewart in Cairo (n.d). I discovered yet another new title which was originally published in Arabic in Beirut in 1968 by Rafiq Khoury. As it stands now, we know of 9 original books in Arabic and 9 books about T.E.L. tanslated to Arabic as well as 7 of T.E.L's titles in Arabic. These in all total 25 titles not to speak of the new SP which will come out any day in Amman.


0106) From: Claire Keith, Marist College, USA
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 1998 16:47:34 EST
Subject: Re: Lawrence and the press

Lowell Thomas was only peripherally involved in the Spiegel film, since Robert Bolt's scenario was constructed almost exclusively on an interpretation of the Seven Pillars. During the course of the filming, Anthony Nutting served as a go-between to invite Thomas to come visit the set as some sort of honorary adviser. While at first interested, Thomas quickly realized that his services were not needed and gave up the idea.


0107) From: MC, Spain
Subject: Re: Lawrence and the press
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 1998 13:09:27 -0400

I would like to know if Lowell Thomas presented his TEL conferences in the 60's, taking advantage of the just released movie? Maybe there is a filmed record?


0108) Date: Sat, 17 Jan 1998 20:50:00 +0900
From: Yagitani Ryoko, Japan
Subject: The ranks of the RAF

I would like to learn about the ranks of the RAF. A dictionary says that non-commissioned ranks include:

Warrant Officer
Flight Sergeant
Chief Technician
Junior Technician
Senior Aircraftman
Leading Aircraftman

There is no mention of "A/C 1" nor "A/C 2" on the list.

Is there is only "Aircraftman" in the RAF now?

How do they address "Leading Aircraftman Jones"?  "Aircraftman Jones"?

And, "Airman" means what in the RAF?


0109) Date: Mon, 19 Jan 1998 12:14:55 GMT
From: GD, France
Subject: Re: TEL in Arabic

Could JR please tell me which are the 9 books originally written in Arabic about Lawrence that mentioned in his posting?  Are there translations available in the UK for those books?


0110) From: PW, UK
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 1998 11:16:32 EST
Subject: Re: Railway research

I have a piece of the Hejaz line. The markings read......50 V. A friend got the rail from Tubuk near the Jordan-Saudi Arabian border. He said the rail was built by a British firm. He said further along the line approx 5 Kilometers there is one of Lawrence's wrecked trains.

It makes a good doorstop.


0111) From: Claire Keith, Marist College, USA
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 1998 12:07:09 EST
Subject: Re: Lawrence and the press

Follow-up on the recent Lowell Thomas inquiries:

1) Film rights
The terms of A.W.L's agreement with Spiegel are not particularly confidential, in that A.W. made his objections very public after the film's opening, both on the air and in the press. Being T.E.'s brother and Literary executor, A.W. was in the perennial position of having to choose the lesser of two evils with regard to the commercial exploitation of Lawrence which was going on one way or another. With other questionable film projects looming (such as Rattigan's "Ross"), A.W. sold the rights to the SP to Spiegel after having seen a preliminary script by Michael Wilson, in which the emphasis was historical rather than psychological.

A.W. had also been impressed by Spiegel's earlier Bridge over the River
. The grave objections he had to the portrayal of T.E. as an unstable, somewhat sadistic and bloodthirsty excentric, as he saw it, led him to exercise the right he had retained to withold the permission to use the original title. He insructed that monies already paid to the T.E.Lawrence Trust be returned. Chapter 7 of Joel Hodson's Lawrence of Arabia and American Culture gives a detailed narrative of Spiegel's expectations and dealings with his two scriptwriters.

2) Sound and video recordings of L.Thomas.
These are most pertinent and interesting questions. There may indeed be some recordings left of Lowell Thomas speaking about Lawrence in the post 1962 years. The main problem here is archival: While Thomas' papers are fairly well contained and can be researched without too much trouble, the vast holdings of his personal collection of film reels and audiotapes are still terra incognita. To study them sytematically given the serious lack of a good inventory is an immensely costly and labor-intensive proposition. Furthermore, a great many of his broadcasts and film programs are apt to be not in his own archives but in those of broadcasting companies (CBS, NBC, BBC). Eventually, the burdensome machinery of grants and sponsors and institutional efforts should help to make a dent in this formidable pile.

Which brings us, of course, to the larger question of the stupendous proliferation of audiovisual archives in the past decades. Ah, the hubris of current events, now self-consciously recording themselves with make-up artists and a legion of political analysts ready for instant replay...  Witness the recent circus act of Christiane Annanpour interviewing the Iranian President.


0112) Date: Tue, 20 Jan 1998 12:48:25 -0500
Subject: [TELstudies] New book

A Memory of T E Lawrence
By A G Prys-Jones
With a portrait engraving by Anthony Christmas
The Hermit Press
ISBN 1 870629 55 8
Edition of 150 numbered copies
Published Aug 1997

Note by JW: I have expanded this somewhat from the original posting

This is a small oblong book, approx 12.5 x 15.5cm, 32 leaves.

The text is the memoir of Lawrence at Jesus College, originally published in the Jesus College Record in 1986, and quoted (from the draft) in my biography of Lawrence.


0113) Date: From: GD, France
Tue, 20 Jan 1998 18:36:22 GMT
Subject: About TEL's tactics

Another reference for the person ( I don't remember who it was) who asked about Lawrence's influence in terms of tactics and so on: I found it in Frank Clements' T.E.Lawrence: a reader's guide:

Nickerson, H., "Lawrence and future generlaship", in American Review, December 1935, pp129-54, with maps apparently. I hope this hasn't already been mentioned.

By the way, does anyone know if Frank Clements intends to or has published an updated version of his bibliography? His 1972 version is quite precious for a student like me who needs some indications on the contents of the books before he tries to find them.


0114) From: KD, UK
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 1998 20:25:27 +0000
Subject: Re:  Railway Research

PW wrote 'He said further along the line approx 5 Kilometers there is one of Lawrence's wrecked trains.'

Not his, but probably the result of the teams he left in what is now Saudi. As far as I am aware he only approached the line in three places in modern-day Saudi. None of these 'visits' resulted in a train wreck.


0115) PW, UK
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 1998 09:14:55 EST
Subject: Re: Railway research

Two  books which may be of help researchers:

Ochsenwald, William, The Hijaz Railway (Charlottesville, University Press of Virginia, 1980).

Tourret, R Hedjaz Railway (Abingdon, Tourret Publishing, 1989).

I have also found a lengthy news article, this throws light on my little piece of ( 7-8 inches )British line. I collected this news article sometime between 1960 - 1970, but because this article is so long, I am only quoting snippets.

Newspaper and date not known
Reads: Empire and Foreign Desk - World News
On a desert railway a blue eyed ghost.
by reporter Thomas Jenkins AMMAN Jordan.

'48 years later two British firms ( no names ) have just started to rebuild the Hejaz Railway what Lawrence destroyed. They are working for three Arab Governments through whose Countries the railway runs. The contract is worth £10 million.'

'One of the railway's main values will be to carry thousands of Moslem pilgrims each year to Medina, close to the Holy City of Mecca. As bulldozers and engineers have crawled along the wrecked railway they have found eerie evidence all the way of Lawrence's attacks.( skulls and bones.)'

'The engineers are rebuilding the railway in two sections. They have worked  45 miles south from Jordan town of Ma'an and 100 miles north from Medina. Bir Nasif is base camp for this southern half of the operation. There are about 40 Euopeans working on the whole project, with 3,000 Arabs.'

'Jock McKechie is plant engineer at Bir Nasif. McKechnie and workmen found a rubber stamp of a Turkish commander who had issued passes on the railway 48 years ago.'

Mr Frank Thomas a director of one of the companies said "The first thing
we had to do was to assess the damage Lawrence caused. Two of our engineers walked right along the track - 500 miles of desert - all on foot. It took them four weeks. They marked every piece of rail to [?including*] the usable ones piled up beside the embankment."'

* word missing, JW

0116) From: KD, UK
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 1998 15:46:56 +0000
Subject: Re: Railway research

Since reading Post 110 again I think your friend may refer to the result of the fight at Hallatt Ammar when a train was indeed wrecked (as portrayed in the Lawrence of Arabia film). This was the first successful use of an electrically fired explosive charge against the railway and Lawrence was in the party. This place now forms the border between Saudi and Jordan and is about 50 miles north of Tabuk.


0117) From: St.John Armitage, UK
Date: Fri, 23 Jan 1998 10:05:59 -0500
Subject: Re: Railway resaearch

KD has consolidated Lawrence's railway activities on the railway in that part of the Hijaz now in Saudi Arabia into three "visits", which rather obscures the detail. Lawrence lists nine raids on the railway in March -April 1917 and his crossing in May on the Nabk ride the results of which included no wrecked locomotives but one damaged and one put out of action temporarily.

But the wreck at Hallat Ahmar is not the result of Lawrence's attack. That locomotive - north of Tabuk - is just short, and south, of Hallat al Ahmar and was the result of a raid by the Bani Atiyah in June, 1918, in which they were supported by machine gunners - possibly Ghurkas - and motor gun from Aqaba. (The demolition parties in Hijaz were not "teams" left by Lawrence but formed and directed by others including the Arabs themselves.)

Lawrence's raid was about four kilos north of Hallat Ahmar on a two engine train. This destroyed the second engine altogether and left the first engine so badly damaged that, according to SP, the Turks later broke it up. There was no locomotive wreckage at the site in 1946.

In the sixties earthworks, bridges and culverts were repaired southwards almost as far as Tabuk and some new rail (made in the UK) was laid in Jordan. I cannot recall the name of the British civil engineeering firm (which built the famous brick flyover at Hammersmith) but the owner was John Dayton who travelled extensively along the railway.

I think a small amount of the new rail was sent to Tabuk but I doubt that any was laid. 50 V seems likely to be part identification of a piece of the original rail which was supplied by American Steel Trust, Cockerill of Belgium, and a Russian-based firm.


0118) From: KD, UK
Date: Sat, 24 Jan 1998 22:15:46 +0000
Subject: Re: Railway research

I think a fairly cursory look at my posting will show I wasn't trying to give a great deal of detail. I did place the word 'visits' in inverted commas to indicate those were the approaches he made. Sorry if I gave the impression of simplifying things.

St. John Armitage wrote:

> But the wreck at Hallat Ahmar is not the result of Lawrence's attack.

Again, I only said the wreck mentioned 'may' be the one wrecked by Lawrence - thanks for giving the details

> Lawrence's raid was about four kilos north of Hallat Ahmar on a
two-engine train. . . .  There was no locomotive wreckage at the site in 1946.

Can I take it you were at the site then? (1946). I'd be most interested to hear about it if so.

The extra detail is interesting. Can I ask what sources you use for your information? As I have mentioned before I am keen on learning more about the line especially in modern Saudi.


0119) From: St. John Armitage, UK
Subject: Re: Railway reseach
Date: 1/26/98 12:19:12PM

In response to KD's posting:

Yes, I did travel the Transjordan (as it then was) sector in 1946 and, from Mafraq to the Saudi border, mainly with Arab Legion baduin. The only rolling stock on the line south of Maan to the border was the chassis abandoned on the line in front of the ruined Mudawwara station. But even that was a post-WW1 relic as the line had been cleared and repaired for its last operational years south of Maan in the early twenties. The Hallat Ahmar locomotive (which was not derailed by mining) was clearly visible on the Saudi side of the border and off the line (as it still is to-day).

My sources are some of the original reports (written long before Tourret and Oschenwald) allied to my travels along the line between Deraa and al Madina over the years and contacts with John Dayton and others who have worked and/or travelled on the line. Tourret and Oschenwald are rightly reccomended by KP and probably the best general background most easily available (but beware of the former's error in identifying the Waiban wreck as being the result of Lawrence's Kilo 1121 raid).

With regard to the origin of the rail, the original rail came from the three sources I mentioned (but Oschenwald also mentions a "few rails" made in Turkey; Tourret the same and "track" from Germany).  Reserve stocks of rail were held in the Hejaz. The reconstruction rail in the sixties from British manufacturers (on further checking I find that some of this was laid in Saudi Arabia). Rail for the two new spurs laid in the seventies from the al Hasa - Batn al Ghul sector to carry the phospates al Hasa - Aqaba came from Germany, and new rail was laid on the old sector (from Germany also?).

These postings also prompt me to add the following perspective to this subject. The Hijaz Railway is not in a time warp. Since WWI the line has been in operation as far south as Maan (and was in intermittent service between Maan and Madina until the mid-twenties). WWII saw the lifting of rail from Maan to the south to provide rail for the Maan - Naqb spur. There was partial re-building of the line between Maan and Tabuk in the sixties and the relaying of the al Hasa - Batn al Ghul sector in the seventies.

Buildings, track and rolling stock have all suffered the depredations of time (and looting) since the Revolt. Here and there remains of rolling stock and damage to stations and halts might be identified, by careful comparison with official reports, as the traces of raids during the Revolt. The Waiban and Hallat Ahmar wrecks are the results of such raids and, I think, the only two locomotives so identifiable. Those abandoned at Madain Salih, Hadiya, Buwair and Madina are not identifiable as direct casualties of war. Also, it must be borne in mind that most of the damage to rolling stock was done in what is the Jordan of to-day and long since cleared away. Most of the damage in the Hejaz by Sharifs Ali and Abdullah's forces was to track and buildings. The former was repaired so can be linked to the Arab Revolt only by site not sight!

One prominent reminder of the railway's heyday has just been demolished: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (built c.1948) building in Jedda. Its architect was a Syrian whose design of the facade was essentially the same as the Damascus Kanawat main station.


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