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World War II

Lawrence of Arabia

Latest hand-picked First World War news.

Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia by Michael Korda (Book review)
T.E. Lawrence - perhaps the most celebrated, exotic, and publicized hero of WWI - was also a political strategist whose victories and failures still affect the Middle East. "Hero" explores his extremely complex person's life in minute, fascinating detail, writing that Lawrence was "a curious combination of scholar and man of action, and, most important of all, a dreamer."

Lawrence of Arabia's secret X-flights revealed in his comrade's diary
The diary of one of Lawrence of Arabia's colleagues records the existence of the so-called "X Flights" led by Lt Col TE Lawrence across the Ottoman empire. James Hynes discovered the diaries, which describe everyday life in the Turkish desert during the First World War, after his cousin mentioned to him that her father served alongside Lawrence of Arabia. Lt Col Lawrence had led the "X flight" sorties in 1918 against the Turks with a team of colleagues, including the sixth Earl of Winterton. The secret missions helped Lt Col Lawrence seize Damascus in 1918 where he set up an Arab government.

Original Lawrence of Arabia negatives go for £6,572
Original negatives of the First World War hero Lawrence of Arabia were sold to a UK-based private collector at auction for 6,572. The pictures show him in India in the 1920s. The anonymous seller purchased them at auction 7 years ago for 32. It was believed the negatives had been lost in the 1930s despite several copies being on show at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Thomas Edward Lawrence helped lead the WW1 Arab revolt against the Germany-allied Turks. Historians believe his biggest contribution to WW1 was persuading Arab leaders to coordinate their uprising to aid British interests.

Australia claims it captured Damascus before T E Lawrence
T. E. Lawrence's claim that he and Arab guerrillas were the first to enter Damascus has angered Australians ever since. An exhibition, at the national war museum in Canberra, strives to put the record straight and show that Lawrence, a self-promoter, took away Australia's glory in order to give the Arabs a propaganda boost. The Australian War Memorial aims to show that it was the legendary Australian Light Horse, and not Lawrence, who seized Damascus in October 1918. Tim Fischer said Lawrence's failure to acknowledge the essential role played by the slouch-hat wearing troopers of the Light Horse was an omission repeated by British historians.

Rare footage of Lawrence of Arabia at the Australian War Memorial
Rare footage of Lawrence of Arabia is part of an exhibition at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. British soldier Thomas Edward Lawrence was made famed by the movie of the same name which romantically presented his life during World War I. The two minute film from March 1918 shows Lawrence of Arabia with Emir Feisal, leader of the 1916-1918 Arab Revolt. The documentary war film by Lowell Thomas also shows camel-mounted members of Feisal's Arab army after their successful attack on the Sinai port of Akaba. Thomas screened the film to millions in UK and US in the 1920s but this is the first time it has been shown to Australian audiences.

Lawrence of Arabia's £250,000 compass is a £50 fake
It was described as the pocket compass used by Lawrence of Arabia during his World War I desert adventures when it was sold by Christie's for more than 250,000. But now the auction house is facing claims from experts that it has been duped - and the bidder walked away with a 50 fake. An inscription on the cigarette case reads: "I leave to my dear friend Taffy my compass which saw me safely across a wilderness so that he may occasionally know where he is going!" But biographer Jeremy Wilson says that during more than 30 years research on the British hero he has never come across any reference to a "Taffy" Evans.

Lawrence of Arabia mementoes fetch £264,000
The compass which helped to create the legend of Lawrence of Arabia, steering him across the desert on a camel during the Arab revolt against the Turks in 1916-1918, was sold for 264,000, together with a cheap watch and an inscribed cigarette case. The startling price was evidence to the enduring fascination with a awkward man, who died in a motorcycle crash in 1935. His immortality was ensured by his book Seven Pillars of Wisdom and by a 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia. He was an archaeologist when he was co-opted into the British army, both for local expertise and as archaeological cover for a military reconaissance exercise.

Lawrence of Arabia 'made up' sex attack by Turk troops
The most controversial event in the life of Lawrence of Arabia was made up, according to evidence uncovered by James Barr, the author of "Setting the Desert on Fire: T E Lawrence and Britain's Secret War in Arabia 1916-1918". The attack, by Turkish soldiers, allegedly happened while he was the British liaison officer during the Arab revolt on Nov. 20, 1917, at the Syrian fortress town at Deraa. But now it's claimed that that he made up the attack to defame opponents and fulfil his own sexual urges. He recounted the attack in 1922 memoir "Seven Pillars of Wisdom", but the pages of his diary covering the period have been ripped out.