22 March 1915

“I want to pull them all together, & to roll up Syria by way of the Hedjaz in the name of the Sherif. You know how big his repute is in Syria … Won’t  the French be mad if we win through? Don’t talk of it yet.”

T. E. Lawrence to David Hogarth (The Letters of T. E. Lawrence, edited by David Garnett, published by Jonathan Cape, 1938).

A series of uncensored letters Lawrence wrote to Hogarth at this time reveal the strategy he was developing for the war. This letter
of March 22 is picked out by David Garnett, the editor of his letters,  as  “probably the most remarkable document Lawrence ever wrote. It shows that he had already planned the campaign which he was to carry to a victorious conclusion three years later.”

15 January 1915

“Blank! Am in an office all day & every day, adding together scraps of information, & writing geographies from memory of little details. It is the dullest job to hear of, but not so bad in action. The preparations of the Turks seem to be slacking off: I’m afraid there is nothing more cheerful I can tell you.”

T. E. Lawrence to David Hogarth (The Letters of T. E. Lawrence, edited by David Garnett, published by Jonathan Cape, 1938).

The early days of Intelligence work in Cairo, described to Lawrence’s friend and mentor.

GrandContinentalThe Grand Continental Hotel, where Lawrence stayed during his early days in Cairo

4 December 1914

“Woolley goes E. with me: at least he leaves on Saturday P. & O.; and Newcombe (who salutes you) and I leave on Tuesday going overland. I have been up here for a couple of months overseeing Sinai maps being drawn, & writing Sinai reports. Now it’s Cairo. All goes well, except among the Turks.”

T. E. Lawrence to Winifred Fontana (The Letters of T. E. Lawrence, edited by David Garnett, published by Jonathan Cape, 1938).

So Lawrence announced his departure from the War Office in London. On Turkey’s entry into the war, Intelligence work on enemy-held territory in the Middle East moved to Cairo, where Lawrence was now transferred with his Wilderness
of Zin
colleagues Leonard Woolley and Captain Stewart Newcombe.

19 October 1914

“Turkey seems at last to have made up its mind to lie down and be at peace with all the world. I’m sorry, because I wanted to root them out of Syria, and now their blight will be more enduring than ever.”

T. E. Lawrence to Winifred Fontana (The Letters of T. E. Lawrence, edited by David Garnett, published by Jonathan Cape, 1938).

Prophetic words from Lawrence! His time was indeed about to come. By the end of the month, Turkey had
entered the war as an ally of Germany; while in the
Geographical Section of the War Office in London, Lawrence was settling down to work as an acknowledged expert on the Middle East.

18 September 1914

“Don’t come back to England. The horrible boredom of having nothing to do, & getting news about once a week, and hearing all the rumours and theories and anxieties of everybody all round you gets on all our nerves. And you couldn’t do anything. The Govt. is very well prepared for our present needs, and is not inviting volunteer aid … There is nothing to do but wait, and waiting is very hard.”

T. E. Lawrence to Mrs Rieder (The Letters of T. E. Lawrence, edited by David Garnett, published by Jonathan Cape, 1938).

In early June 1914, Lawrence had left Carchemish – the ancient
Hittite site where he had worked as an archaeologist since 1911 – for the last time. He was back in Oxford, working in the Bodleian
Library on his contribution to The Wilderness of Zin, when war
was declared in August 1914. Thus, to his friend Mrs Rieder,
he described the first few weeks of the war while he awaited his call-up to Military Intelligence. The waiting was to continue until
October.