Maev Kennedy // Lawrence of Arabia’s revolver donated to National Army Museum

TEL_10-56-07.pngLawrence of Arabia’s revolver donated to National Army Museum | World news | The Guardian – TE Lawrence took the US-made Smith & Wesson from Ashraf Bey, whose name is inscribed in Arabic on the gun, when he was captured in 1916 together with more than £15,000 in gold, probably intended as bribes to persuade the Bedouin to support the Ottoman cause.

He later gave the gun to Capt Lionel Gray, a cipher officer in Middle East intelligence and an avid collector of souvenirs of the desert campaign, whose family have now donated it to the museum along with his archive.

The capture of Bey and his camel supply train was controversial because the Arab troops with Lawrence under Prince Feisal had diverted – and delayed in celebrating the captured loot – from a planned joint operation with the Royal Navy against the Ottoman-held city of Wejh.

The label, in Gray’s handwriting, explains the origin of the gun and adds: “Ashraf Bey is known to have been responsible for the death of some 2,000 Armenians and this revolver was taken from his person”.

Lawrence, who had interrogated Bey after his capture, passed on the information to Gray, implicating the Turkish officer the infamous massacre of Armenians in 1915, claiming that Bey had personally used the revolver to execute a number of captives.

T. E. Lawrence – Wikipedia – Thomas Edward Lawrence, CB, DSO (16 August 1888 – 19 May 1935) was a British archaeologist, military officer, diplomat, and writer. He was renowned for his liaison role during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign and the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. The breadth and variety of his activities and associations, and his ability to describe them vividly in writing, earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia—a title used for the 1962 film based on his wartime activities.

Lawrence was born out of wedlock in Tremadog, Wales, in August 1888 to Thomas Chapman (who became, in 1914, Sir Thomas Chapman, 7th Baronet), an Anglo-Irish nobleman from County Westmeath, and Sarah Junner, a Scottish governess who was herself illegitimate. Chapman had left his wife and first family in Ireland to live with Junner, and they called themselves Mr and Mrs Lawrence. In 1896, the Lawrences moved to Oxford, where Lawrence attended the High School and in 1907–1910 studied History at Jesus College, Oxford. Between 1910 and 1914 he worked as an archaeologist, chiefly at Carchemish, in what is now Syria.

Soon after the outbreak of war he volunteered for the British Army and was stationed in Egypt. In 1916, he was sent to Arabia on an intelligence mission and quickly became involved with the Arab Revolt, serving, along with other British officers, as a liaison to the Arab forces. Working closely with Emir Faisal, a leader of the revolt, he participated in and sometimes led military activities against the Ottoman armed forces, culminating in the capture of Damascus in October 1918.

After the war, Lawrence joined the Foreign Office, working with both the British government and with Faisal. In 1922, he retreated from public life and spent the years until 1935 serving as an enlisted man, mostly in the Royal Air Force, with a brief stint in the Army. During this time, he wrote and published his best-known work, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, an autobiographical account of his participation in the Arab Revolt. He also translated books into English and wrote The Mint, which was published posthumously and detailed his time in the Royal Air Force working as an ordinary aircraftman. He corresponded extensively and was friendly with well-known artists, writers, and politicians. For the Royal Air Force, he participated in the development of rescue motorboats.

Lawrence’s public image resulted in part from the sensationalised reporting of the Arab revolt by American journalist Lowell Thomas, as well as from Seven Pillars of Wisdom. In 1935, Lawrence was fatally injured in a motorcycle accident in Dorset.

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