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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence, Report 11 February 1918

FIRST REPORTS FROM TAFILA
[Arab Bulletin, 11 February 1918]


Tafila had surrendered on the 15th after a little fighting, and the number of Turks captured there was 150 Major Lawrence, writing from there on the 22nd, reported that the inhabitants were divided into two hostile factions, who were much afraid of each other, and there was shooting in the streets every night. Flour and barley were very dear and difficult to find, and there was a serious lack of mules and camels. The Sherifian officers, however, were arranging to police the town and organize supplies. The situation was complicated by the presence of a colony of Moors, who had been besieged by the Arabs, and a party of seventeen [1,700!] destitute but, apparently, well fed Armenians.

A force of local Arabs, under Sherif Abdullah el-Faiz and Hamud es-Sufi, of the Terabin (adds Major Lawrence) had gone to Mezraa, on the Dead Sea, to block any leakage of supplies westwards from Kerak; while Sherif Mastur was going northward to Sell el-Hesa, about half-way between Kerak and Tafila. Letters have been sent to the Kerak Arabs, whose attitude was doubtful. Rifaifan, the head of the Mujaliyah, was believed to be pro-Turkish, but Husein el-Tura, the other leading sheikh, was secretly pro-Sherifian.

News has since been received of the occupation of Mezraa by the Arabs, who captured sixty prisoners, including two officers, and burnt a launch and six sailing boats.

On 26 January a large force of Turks from Kerak attacked the Arabs at Seil el-Hesa, where severe fighting took place. This resulted in a brilliant victory for the Arabs, who killed 500 of the enemy and captured 250, including Hamid Bey, the O.C. 48th Division. Only about fifty Turks escaped in the direction of Kerak, and all officers were killed or captured. The booty consisted of two powerful Austrian mountain guns, nine automatic rifles, twenty-three machine-guns (including fifteen German Maxim machine-guns) and 800 rifles. About 200 mules and horses were also taken and distributed among the Bedouin.

Source: SD 149
Checked: mv/
Last revised: 5 August 2006


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