British soldier, scholar, and translator. Appointed to the military intelligence department in Cairo, Egypt, during World War I, he took part in negotiations for an Arab revolt against the Ottoman Turks, and in 1916 attached himself to the emir Faisal. He became a guerrilla leader of genius, combining raids on Turkish communications with the organization of a joint Arab revolt, described in his book The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1926).
Lawrence was born in Wales, studied at Oxford, and during 1910–14 took part in archaeological expeditions to Syria and Mesopotamia. On the outbreak of war he was recalled to the UK and was employed producing maps of the Arab regions. When the sheriff of Mecca revolted against the Turks in 1916 Lawrence was given the rank of colonel and went with the British Mission to King Hussein. There he reorganized the Arab army, which he practically commanded, and conducted guerrilla operations on the flank of the British Army 1916–18. In 1918 he led his successful Arabs into Damascus. At the end of the war he was awarded the DSO for his services, and became adviser to the Foreign Office on Arab affairs. Disappointed by the Paris Peace Conference's failure to establish Arab independence, he joined the Royal Air Force in 1922 as an aircraftman under the name Ross, transferring to the tank corps under the name T E Shaw in 1923 when his identity became known. In 1935 he was killed in a motorcycle accident.
Lawrence, T(homas) E(dward)
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