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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to Colonel P. C. Joyce


[?Azrak]

13.11.17

Dear Joyce,

Please tell Feisul we rode to El Jefer, and found Zaal and the Abu Tayi afraid to come with us. Sherif Ali and Auda did their best to work them up, but they were not for it. The Abu Tayi have almost revolted against Auda, and I doubt whether we shall see much more good from them: they have seen too much good from us.

Thence we went to Bair, where we found Mifleh ibn Zebn. He with Fahad and Adhub ibn Zebn went with us, and did most splendidly. I think them three of the best Arab sheikhs I have met. Fahad was badly hit in the face in the train scrimmage, but will, I hope, recover.

From Bair we rode to Azrak where we met the Serahin. Sheikh Mifleh ibn Bali rode with us to the bridge, and did his best, but he and his tribe are not in it with the Beni Sakhr.

Emir Abd el Kader came with us to Azrak, where we made the plan of attack on the bridge at Tell el Shehab. He said he would come with us, and we had no idea anything was wrong, but the same day he rode off (without warning either Ali or myself or the Arabs with us) to Salkhad, where he is still sitting. Tell Feisul I think he was afraid: much talk, and little doing, in his way. Neither Ali nor myself gave him any offence.

Tell el Shehab is a splendid bridge to destroy, but those Serahin threw away all my explosive when the firing began, and so I can do nothing - If the Turks have not increased their guard we can do it later: but I am very sick at losing it so stupidly. The Bedu cannot take the bridge, but can reach it: the Indians can take it, but cannot reach it!

From Tell el Shehab we turned back to the Railway south of Deraa, and destroyed two locomotives. We must have killed about 100 Turks too. It was a most risky performance but came off all right. Little Ali is a very plucky youth, and came to my rescue on each occasion very dashingly. He will certainly get himself killed unless he continues to travel with a person as skilful and cautious as myself. Besides being in the thick of it when anything happens he keeps very good control of the Arabs on the march, and has been very decent to me - I think he is quite in the front rank of Sherifs - but he really must go easy with himself, or I will want a successor to travel with!

Please give Feisul (and Snagge) any extracts you like from the report to Clayton enclosed. Tell him the whole country of the Hauran fellahin is slipping towards him, and they only require arms, money and a shock to get all moving together. We can get no news of what happened at Gaza.

I think the attached might go to the Press. Ali deserves a mention, for he is a very uncommon youth. My personal requests in another paper.

Yours,

T. E. Lawrence

[Enclosed with the above]

On November the eleventh a detachment of the Northern Army of Sherif Feisul, under the command of Sherif Ali ibn Hussein el Harith, attacked the Railway and troop trains between Deraat and Amman. Two locomotives and some coaches were completely destroyed, and a bridge blown up. The Turks lost heavily in killed and wounded. The Arabs lost seven men.

Source: DG 238-40
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 9 January 2006


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