Small Wars Journal

Bullet Proves Lawrence of Arabia’s Tall Tales of Desert Heroics Weren’t as Outlandish as Cynics Said

Fri, 04/01/2016 - 11:56am

Bullet Proves Lawrence of Arabia’s Tall Tales of Desert Heroics Weren’t as Outlandish as Cynics Said by Jessica Ware, Daily Mail

A single bullet has helped prove that T.E Lawrence's WWI memoir was far more accurate than previously believed. 

Archaeologists from Bristol University spent nine years combing previously untouched battle sites across the Arabian Desert in Jordan.    

The team found a bullet at the site of a battle which inspired the dramatic train ambush scene in the David Lean Lawrence of Arabia classic, which was fired by a Colt pistol which Lawrence owned. 

'We're almost 100 per cent certain he was the only person in that battle who would have been using that gun,' Dr Neil Faulkner, who led the nine-year Great Arab Revolt Project (GARP), told the MailOnline.  

'A lot of people have doubted what was written in his Seven Pillars of Wisdom memoir,' he added. 'But what this shows is that he is not a serial liar - he has provided us with a very reliable historical account.'…

Read on.


In 1986, I took 1-75th Rangers to Jordan for Joint training with the Jordanian Special Forces-then commanded by BG Abdullah-now King Abdullah. We trained at a place called Bat Na Goul(sp)-Belly of the Beast-which is on the Saudi Border to the Empty Quarter-seriously desolate. Part of our work was to conduct sabotage on railroads. We sent out joint recon teams to locate the old Hejaz railroad line and to pick the best ambush spot. This with negative specifics regarding Lawrence's exploits in this area. After a couple of days, we had an xlnt read on the railroad itself (perfectly preserved to include a station with a full cistern under the floor). BG A and I went on his motorcycle to confirm the best place for the ambush. We agreed with the recce recommendation. After reading this article and referring to my old maps, we selected exactly where the article indicated Lawrence and his troops were. It was not a brilliant choice, in consideration of the terrain, it was pretty much the only choice. Great minds think alike.....


Sat, 04/02/2016 - 6:55pm

In reply to by J Harlan

"History isn’t made up of truth anyway so why worry?" - T.E. Lawrence once said to Lowell Thomas

J Harlan

Fri, 04/01/2016 - 3:09pm

This is a bit like paleontologists who extrapolate what a previously unknown dinosaur looked like from a toe bone. It seems someone fired a .45 bullet at the scene. It might have been Lawrence. I'll grant it as Lawrence. How this proves Lawrence's version of events is beyond me. At best this shows Lawrence fired one round from a pistol at the location. For all we know it could have been at a Turkish train as it rolled away. Are there no Turkish records or memoirs of the incident? Surely a train derailment would be worthy of a SITREP.