Thomas Edward Lawrence, byname Lawrence of Arabia was a British archaeological scholar, military strategist, and author best known for his legendary war activities in the Middle East during World War I and for his account of those activities in ‘The Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ (1926).
Lawrence arrived at Miranshah, an outpost in Waziristan near the Afghan border in May 1928. It was its remoteness that appealed to him. He returned the following January: for warfare had broken out in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Gilbert C. G. Lewis, a soldier in the Indian Army, remarked in a letter in 1928:
‘…You know Colonel Lawrence, the one who made such a name for himself in Arabia during the war? He is, at present with the R.A.F. at Miranshah – the people we play hockey with at Idak – as an office clerk! You had probably heard that he had joined the R.A.F. as a private in order to escape publicity. I tried to persuade them to bring him down with their team next time they come, but apparently he doesn’t take much interest in games! One would have thought that he could have found many better ways of avoiding publicity, as the life of a private must be rather irksome to one who always [has] done more or less as he pleased. They say he spends most of his spare time learning to type-write! …’ [Source]
The fact of Lawrence’s coming to Waziristan and the role played by him during the Afghan revolt 1928-29 continues to be a mystery. No systematic study has been done so far to reveal the real nature and purpose of his stay in Waziristan. King Amanaullah Khan himself said, “I have also heard much about the alleged mischief done by Colonel Lawrence, but i did not get the opportunity to investigate the truth of this allegation”. [PIHC, 1968, p-200]
|Lawrence of Arabia standing on the aerodrome of Miranshah, Waziristan, December 1928.|
|T E LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (THIRD FROM LEFT) WHILE SERVING WITH THE RAF AT MIRANSHAH FORT, WAZIRISTAN, NW FRONTIER OF INDIA, 1928|