Some historians have long doubted T.E Lawrence’s version of events during his time advising Arab forces fighting the Ottoman Turks during World War One.
For example, Lawrence’s exact role in the Hallat Ammar train ambush, recognised by military historians as a skirmish that helped define the tactics of modern guerilla warfare, has been a subject of contention for decades.
However, earlier this year expert Dr Neil Faulkner, part of a team that completed a decade-long field project looking at the military campaigns of Lawrence, announced a bullet had been found that proved he’d taken part in the legendary raid.
More than 90 people packed the Wareham museum to hear Dr Faulkner speak about this bullet, which was apparently fired from a 1911 Colt pistol, the type of firearm known to have been carried by T.E. Lawrence.
Honourary museum curator Ben Buxton said: “We were delighted to host this lecture on Lawrence, who had strong connections with Wareham and who features predominantly in the museum.
“Dr Faulkner’s research into events in the Middle East 100 years ago have shed new light on this intriguing character and have renewed interest in Lawrence’s role in shaping the region as we know it today.”
Lawrence wrote about his participation in the raid in his memoir ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’.
Dr Faulkner said: “Lawrence has something of a reputation as a teller of tall tales but this bullet – and the other archaeological evidence we unearthed during 10 years of fieldwork – indicates how reliable his account of the Arab revolt in Seven Pillars of Wisdom is.”
After the war Lawrence joined the Royal Tank Corps, based at Bovington Camp, under an assumed name. He lived at the nearby cottage, Clouds Hill, which is now maintained by the National Trust, and was a frequent visitor to Wareham.
Lawrence died following a crash on his motorbike near Bovington in May 1935.
Wareham Town Museum opens 10am-4pm until October 31.
Author: Jim Durkin