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Remembered Today:

TE Lawrence - 10 (Motor Section) RFA


ianjonesncl

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TE Lawrence of Arabia and his exploits, as portrayed in the iconic film with Peter O' Toole, have always intrigued me. I was aware of the irregular Arab Army being reinforced with armoured cars and aircraft, however I did not realise Lawrence's forces were supported by artillery. In November 1917, 10 (Motor Section) Royal Field Artillery joined the Arab Northern Army, equipped with 10 pounder mountain guns.

 

As ever, a search of the GWF revealed more about 10 (Motor Section) RFA, and a little more searching provided additional information. 

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The Arab Revolt began in June 1916 when Sharif Hussein of Mecca, the Hashemite tribe leader, raised his flag to signal the start of the uprising. TE Lawrence was serving in Military Intelligence in Cairo when the Arab Revolt began.

 

See the source image

 

Three Arab Armies would be raised. The Arab Southern and Eastern Armies spent the two years of the Arab Revolt in the south of the Hejaz fighting the Turks stationed in the garrison of Medina and in it's surrounding area.  The Arab Northern Army would exploit northward along the Red Sea Coast capturing ports, then support the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) into Palestine and Syria. The Arab Northern Army consisted of mainly irregular troops, and the force that TE Lawrence would join to conduct a mainly guerrilla warfare campaign. 

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TE Lawrence was sent in October 1916 to work with the Arab Northern Army in the Hejaz, and established a good relationship with it's leader Feisal ibn Hussein.  The Northern Army's plan was to exploit along the Red Sea Coast capturing the ports of Jeddah, Rabigh and Yabu, as well as conducting attacks on the Hejaz railway to disrupt supplies and potential reinforcements to the Turkish garrison in Medina. The operations were intended to support the two Arab Armies attempting to defeat the Turks in Medina. [1]

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TE LAWRENCE OF ARABIA

image.png.6dc947f3644d86054586376485d5b462.png

 

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HEJAZ RAILWAY

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HEJAZ RAILWAY

 

Lawrence's first raid on the Hejaz Railway was an attack on the Aba el Naam Station March 26th 1917. [2] The Egyptian Expeditionary Force launched a campaign in Palestine making two unsuccessful attacks on Gaza in March ( First Battle of Gaza 26 – 27 March ) and April  (Second Battle of Gaza 17 – 19 April). Lawrence and the Arabs progressed northward capturing Wejh,with the help of the Royal Navy, on January 24 and Aqaba on 6th July. [3]

image.png.1da95e93ff879bee12be36c54e312b6d.png

 

ARAB FLAG BEARER LEADING TRIUMPHAL ENTRY INTO AQABA

Source: IWM Q_059193

 

Lawrence travelled to Cairo to inform GHQ that Aqaba had been captured , to find that following the failure of the attacks on Gazza, the Commander of the EEF General Murray had been replaced by General Allenby. [4]  Allenby saw the potential of the Arab Revolt to support his planned advance along the Mediterranean coast with  the Arab Northern Army continuing their attacks on the Hejaz Railway and conducting raids on his right flank to disrupt the Turks. [5]

 

Allenby's support of the Arab Revolt and the capture of the port Aqaba provided the opportunity to aid the Arab forces with supplies and reinforcement with aircraft, armoured cars and artillery. [6] 

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AKABA

 

The 10th (Motor Section) Royal Field Artillery was formed to support Lawrence's' operations, embarking on the SS Ozarda in Suez 18th November 1917 [7] disembarking in Akaba two days later. [8]
 

TE Lawrence of Arabia described the section as; [9]

 "An oddment which General Clayton had seen in Egypt and sent down to us in an inspired moment. Its six Talbots, specially geared for heavy work, carried (at first) two 10 pounders with British gunners". 

 

10 (Motor Section) RFA consisted  six Talbot cars and two 10 pounder Indian Mountain guns, later increased to six, one for each Talbot car. [10]

 

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The Talbots lorries had a strengthened 25/50 SY chassis designed for use in Russia. The guns were porteed (carried in the back of the lorries rather than been towed). The guns were normally off loaded for firing, though they could also be fired off the back of the truck. The 10 pounder with its lack of recoil system would cause the Talbot chassis to visibly bend and spring back into place every time they were fired. [11] 

 

large.383095830_TELawrenceArmouredCarsand10PunderGuns(2).jpg.ca142acd06e55685da7032a29c3d2442.jpg

ROLLS ROYCE ARMOURED CARS AND 10 (MOBILE SECTION) RFA

Source: https://www.talbotownersclub.co.uk/history/landmarks-and-key-people/te-lawrence-and-the-arab-revolt

 

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10 (MOBILE SECTION) RFA TRUCK AND AIRCRAFT

Source: https://www.talbotownersclub.co.uk/history/landmarks-and-key-people/te-lawrence-and-the-arab-revolt

 

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10 (MOBILE SECTION) RFA PORTEEING 10 POUNDER MOUNTAIN GUN

Source: https://www.talbotownersclub.co.uk/history/landmarks-and-key-people/te-lawrence-and-the-arab-revolt

 

On 26th December 1917 whilst conducting reconnaissance, Lawrence shelled Tel Shahm station with the 10 pounders, [12]  which looks to be the first time they engaged the enemy. 

 

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10 (MOBILE SECTION) RFA 10 POUNDER MOUNTAIN GUNS FIRING DISMOUTED FROM TRUCKS

Source: The Show - Destination: Middle East (cliohistory.org)

 

General Allenby and the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) finally succeeded in capturing Gazza (Third Battle of Gaza 27 October – 7 November), before fighting through to Jerusalem which was captured on 9th December. The EEF continued their advance along the coast capturing Jaffa on 22nd December 1917. [13]

 

The next stage of the Palestine campaign were operations in the Jordan Valley which lasted from February to May. [14] 

 

Lawrence continued with his guerrilla operations with the Arab Northern Army re-reinforced by the Camel Corps, a flight of aircraft, Rolls Royce Armoured cars and 10 (Motor Section) Royal Field Artillery.  [15] On the 9th March 1918 a combined force including air planes, armoured cars and 10 (Motor Section) RFA's guns attacked the station at Wadi Ratm (Wadi Rethem). [16]

 

A month later on the 19th April, a substantial attack took place on the Tel Shahm station with mixed British and Arab forces supported by 10 (Mobile Section) RFA and armoured cars. The attack resulted in damage to railway bridges and stretches of track.[17]

 

The attacks by Lawrence's forces with 10 (Mobile Section) RFA on the Hejaz Railway continued. On 8th of August 1918 a concentrated attack on the railway from Mudawwara (El Mudowere) to Maan resulted in securing 80 miles (130 km) of the railway and seven stations. [18]

 

The combined efforts of General Allenby's Egyptian Expeditionary Force engaging Turkish Forces along the coast of Palestine, and Lawrence's guerrilla operations weakened the Turkish forces considerably. The Battle of Megiddo fought from 19th September to 25th September saw the EEF break through Turkish lines, and Lawrence, supported by 10 (Mobile Section) RFA, captured Deera on the 27th September. [19]

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TE LAWRENCE OPERATIONS

 

The defeat of the Turkish Army at the Battle of Megiddo and the continued harassment by Lawrence and the Arab Army resulted in a full scale retreat of Turkish forces from Palestine. [20]

 

On the 30th September, a contingent from the Arab Army and troops from the Australian Light Horse of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force entered Damascus. On 1st October TE Lawrence of Arabia rode into Damascus in a Rolls Royce.  [21] 

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TE LAWRENCE OF ARABIA ENTERS DMASCUS IN A ROLLS ROYCE

 

Lawrence of Arabia's journey from Aqaba to Damascus and the success of the campaign in Palestine was assisted in part by 10  (Motor Section) Royal Field Artillery and their truck mounted 10 pounder mountain guns.

 

large.1631844684_TELawrenceArmouredCarsand10PunderGuns(1).jpg.2e3955f670dcbd1ba4fbab276528302c.jpg

ROLLS ROYCE ARMOURED CARS AND 10 (MOBILE SECTION) RFA

Source: https://www.talbotownersclub.co.uk/history/landmarks-and-key-people/te-lawrence-and-the-arab-revolt

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[1] The Arab Revolt 1916-18 - Osprey page 28

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hejaz_railway 

[3] The Arab Revolt 1916-18 - Osprey page 10

[4] The Arab Revolt 1916-18 - Osprey page 54

[5] The Arab Revolt 1916-18 - Osprey page 16

[6] The Arab Revolt 1916-18 - Osprey page 16

[7]  https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/228000-te-lawrence’s-driver-at-damascus-1st-october-1918/?tab=comments#comment-2264364,

[8] https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/262512-lawrence-deraa-and-the-10th-motor-detatchment-war-diary/?tab=comments#comment-2660143

[9] https://www.talbotownersclub.co.uk/history/landmarks-and-key-people/te-lawrence-and-the-arab-revolt

[10] T.E. Lawrence & the Arab Revolt | Talbot Owners Club 

[11]  https://www.talbotownersclub.co.uk/history/landmarks-and-key-people/te-lawrence-and-the-arab-revolt 

[12] The Arab Revolt 1916-18 - Osprey page 16

[13] https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/battles/the-campaign-in-egypt-and-palestine/

[14] https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/battles/the-campaign-in-egypt-and-palestine/

[15] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Revolt  

[16] https://english.ahram.org.eg/News/406188.aspxhttps://english.ahram.org.eg/News/406188.aspx

[17] https://english.ahram.org.eg/News/406188.aspx

[18] Battle of Mudawwara (8 Aug. 1918) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mudawwara#History

[19] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Megiddo_(1918]

[20] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinai_and_Palestine_campaign

[21]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Revolt#1918:_Increased_Allied_assistance_and_the_end_of_fighting

 

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7 Comments


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North. Gunner,

Thanks for showing those maps and wonderful photos, most of which I had never seen before!!!

They gave me a much better feel for the path of the Arab uprising than I had previously

Did Talbot previously/subsequently become Talbot-Lago and/or Sunbeam-Talbot??

No wonder that the chassis flexed when the 10 pounder (almost 900 lb) was fired.....

Regards,

JMB

 

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Here are some websites associated with T. E. Lawrence which expand the narrative of T. E. Lawrence in Arabia and then in England.  Source is the CEF Study Group's "List of Recommended Great War Websites".  Borden Battery

 

T. E. Lawrence Society

This website is maintained by the Society for its membership and includes general background material on T. E. Lawrence.  [CEF Study Group – Sept 2022]

https://telsociety.org.uk/

 

 

The True Story of Lawrence of Arabia – The Smithsonian Magazine by Scott Anderson, July 2014

Short article on T. E. Lawrence during the Great War and post events leading to more modern times.

[CEF Study Group – Sept 2022]

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/true-story-lawrence-arabia-180951857/

 

 

The Kensingtons Blog – Interviews and Papers on the Great War

Dr. Tom Thorpe is a historian, podcaster and aspiring academic with an interest in combatant motivation and morale in 20th-century conflicts with a particular specialism on the Great War. He is a Trustee of the Western Front Association (WFA), Co-Chair of the Antrim and Down WFA branch and a presenter and producer of the WFA’s podcast Mentioned in Dispatches. The following Podcasts are from the main website: http://www.kensingtons.org.uk/  Listed below is a selection of podcasts – not all are listed here.  Items of particular interest to Canadians are in BOLD font. [CEF Study Group – Sept 2022]

Ep96 – Lawrence of Arabia – Dr John Peaty

Ep61 – D.H. Lawrence and the Great War – Dr Andrew Humphries

 

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A fascinating account with some superb photographs. Many thanks.

Lawrence's "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" (1926>) seems to absent from the bibliography ..... unless I missed it.  For anyone following up on the excellent blog on what Lawrence calls the Hejaz Armoured Car Company and the Talbot Battery RFA that book may be worth a look. An example of the detail is the two sub-units even get named as individuals which is unusual for the time.   

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BB,

Many thanks for those additional sources of info.

I did once, many years ago, take out ‘The Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ from my library but to my shame, after 2 weeks had not even opened it.

Regards,

JMB

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On 25/09/2023 at 18:42, JMB1943 said:

North. Gunner,

Thanks for showing those maps and wonderful photos, most of which I had never seen before!!!

They gave me a much better feel for the path of the Arab uprising than I had previously

Did Talbot previously/subsequently become Talbot-Lago and/or Sunbeam-Talbot??

No wonder that the chassis flexed when the 10 pounder (almost 900 lb) was fired.....

Regards,

JMB

 

JMB

Clement-Talbot of Barlby Road, London were a maker of high end motor cars.  They were part of the Sunbeam Talbot Darracq group.  The Rootes brothers bought the company in 1935, following its collapse.  Later cars were known as Sunbeam-Talbots then Sunbeams, these were based on current Hillman models over subsequent years. 

The French leg of the company Automobiles Talbot, was taken over by Antonio Lago, and thereafter marketed as Talbot-Lagos.

Regards,

Mike.

Edited by MikeyH
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Mike,

Thanks for contributing to my further education.

I do remember seeing the Sunbeam Talbot cars when I was a lad.

Regards,

JMB

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The Handley Page, Halifax heavy bombers were built by English Electric, Fairey Aviation, Rootes Motors and the London Aircraft Production Group.   Borden Battery

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