Born August 16, 1888, Tremadog North Wales…..Died May 19, 1935
British Adventurer, soldier and writer, he was known as “Lawrence of Arabia.” His role in the Oscar winning movie “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962) was played by actor Peter O’Toole. Born in Tremadog in North Wales, his father was Sir Thomas Chapman, seventh Baronet of Westmeath in Ireland, who had abandoned his wife to live with his daughter’s governess, Sarah Junner, with whom he had five sons. The family lived under the name Lawrence, and young Thomas attended the City of Oxford High School for Boys. In 1905, at age 17, young Lawrence ran away from home to join the Army, serving with the Royal Garrison Artillery at St. Mawes Castle, Cornwall . When his father eventually found him, his father had him discharged and he returned home. Lawrence then attended the Jesus College in Oxford, graduating with First Class Honors in 1910. Fascinated by archaeology since early childhood, in December 1910, he sailed to Beirut, where intent upon becoming a field archeologist, he studied the Arabic language and worked at the British Museum ’s excavations in northern Syria and Iraq. Lawrence would travel throughout the area, living as an Arab, wearing their clothing, speaking their language, and learning their culture, which would prove invaluable in the upcoming war. When World War I broke out in 1914, Lawrence joined the Army, and was soon posted to the Military Intelligence Department in Cairo. In 1916, the Arabs rebelled against the Turkish Empire, a German ally, and Lawrence was sent to Mecca on a fact-finding mission. He exceeded his orders. His knowledge of Arabic language and culture enabled him to work directly with the Arab leaders, whom he convinced to work together in their revolt to aid British interests. He tied up Turkish troops by having them guard long stretches of railroad tracks against Arab attacks. In 1917, he arranged for the Arabs to capture the city of Aqaba. Promoted to Major, Lawrence then organized the Arab attack on Damascus, and in 1918, was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. A close friend of Prince Faisal, Lawrence gained great respect from the Arab population for his willingness to adapt to their customs. For his war efforts, Lawrence was made a Commander in the Order of the Bath, and awarded the Distinguished Service Order and French Legion of Honor, although he did refuse the Order of Knight Commander. After the war, Lawrence worked at the Paris Peace Conference, where he promoted the cause of Arab independence, but despite his efforts, Palestine and Iraq were mandated to Britain. In 1921, the press discovered his exploits, and he was soon the subject of media frenzy. When British attempts to govern Iraq resulted in an Arab revolt, Winston Churchill and Lawrence went there and by 1922, the two men had achieved a settlement. Lawrence returned home to great acclaim in the press. Seeking quiet, he joined the RAF under an assumed name, Ross, to avoid the hounding media. When the press discovered his name change, he was forced out of the RAF. He enlisted into the Royal Tank Corps under the name of Thomas Shaw, but unhappy with tanks, he was able to transfer back to the RAF in 1925. When his book, “Revolt in the Desert” was published the next year, the resulting public interest was so intense that he was transferred to a remote base in British India, where he remained until 1928. He remained on military service until 1935. Retiring in March 1935, he moved to Dorset, England, where two months later, he was thrown from his motorcycle, suffering severe head injuries and died six days later without regaining consciousness. Having never married, he was buried in Moreton Cemetery, Dorset, in the Frampton family crypt; the Framptons were cousins and close friends to Lawrence.