Lawrence of Arabia – Shifting Sands Exhibition

IN THE March 2017 issue of Britain at War we looked at the story behind the supposed ‘Lawrence of Arabia bullet’ and a new exhibition now features artefacts relating to T E Lawrence reports Mark Khan.

This exhibition is currently on display at the National Civil War Centre in Newark in Nottinghamshire. It features the story of the Great Arab Revolt as well as focussing on the story of T.E Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia. On display are a number of artefacts on loan from the Jordanian Department of Antiquities recovered during archaeological work by the Great Arab Revolt Project (GARP). Amongst these artefacts are those that were found near the site the train ambush carried out by Arab forces led by Lawrence. The ‘Lawrence’ bullet was recovered from here and is also on display. As well as from the ambush site items are also displayed from one of Lawrence’s camp sites. A cameo recreation of this campsite forms part of the exhibition. Lawrence is in many ways an emotive figure and has sometimes been called something of a charlatan and fantasist. In the history of the Desert Mounted Corps, Lieut Colonel The Honourable R.M.P Preston DSO perhaps provides an interesting description of the Arab forces under Lawrence’s leadership.

“Though intolerant of anything in the nature of discipline, and constantly at war amongst themselves, many Arab tribes of the Hedjaz had joined the standard of the old Sherif Hussein’s energetic son Feisal, that had carried on a successful guerilla warfare against scattered Turkish garrisons since June 1916. Their operations were directed especially against the Hedjaz Railway. Under the leadership of the daring and beloved Lawrence, train wrecking was elevated among the Arabs to the status of a national sport. Many wrecked trains yielded rich booty to the Sherif, and on one occasion included £20,000 in Turkish gold”.

Lawrence will always be an emotive, romantic and controversial figure - but this exhibition very concisely sets out his intriguing story.

The Exhibition is open daily 10am to 4pm. Entry is free with normal admission to the National Civil War Centre: £8 adults, £7 concessions and £3.50 children.

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