T.E. Lawrence, or “Lawrence of Arabia” as he is also known, was an important figure in World War I.
Part diplomat, military officer, archaeologist, and legend, Lawrence was an British soldier who traveled extensively in the Middle East before the outbreak of The Great War. But what else did he do?
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In particular, he was familiar with the Ottoman Empire provinces of the Levant (modern-day Transjordan and Palestine) and Mesopotamia (now Syria and Iraq). It was because of this familiarity he became an integral part of the British government strategy against the Ottoman Empire in World War I. Lawrence was tasked with backing insurgent Arab tribal leaders and creating an asymmetrical conflict with the Ottomans. He was extremely successful in this role, using very little military resources to tie up a disproportionate amount of Ottoman troops.
However, Lawrence was no armchair leader. During the war, he fought alongside Arab irregular troops in extended guerrilla operations against the armed forces of the Ottoman Empire. In 1917, Lawrence and guerrilla fighters captured the strategically important town of Aqaba, and more success followed. In 1918, at the Battle of Tafileh, Lawrence and the Arab irregulars turned a defensive engagement into an offensive rout, killing 400 Ottoman soldiers and capturing over 200. He was also instrumental in the capture of Damascus in the final months of the war.
Aside from these major victories, Lawrence and the Arab irregulars also wreaked havoc on communication and supply lines, favoring attacks on railways. In one such attack, Lawrence and his comrades disabled a locomotive with a mine, and pinned down the Turks. When the Arabs brought up a mortar, the Ottoman soldiers attempted to retreat across open ground – right into the path of the a Lewis machine gun. In 10 minutes, 70 Turks were killed, 30 wounded, and 80 taken prisoner. Only one arab was killed in the action. Despite his military success, Lawrence did not enjoy the business of war, once writing “This killing and the killing of Turks is horrible.” He recorded many of his sensational experiences in his war accounts, entitled “Seven Pillars of Wisdom.”
Lawrence and the Arab irregulars were such a menace to the Ottoman Empire, a 15,000 Pound price was put on his head, though it was never collected. He died in a motorcycle accident on May 19th, 1935. He was 46.
Today, T.E. Lawrence is remembered not only for his writings and war exploits, but also his contribution to the Western understanding of Arabian culture. Because the Middle East has become somewhat of a hot-button issue, fewer people discuss T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt, though it is important to recognize their contributions to World War I.
The Lawrence of Arabia pack is included with the Deluxe Edition of Battlefield 1.