Club meeting at Copper, Bingham

Thu, Nov 4th 2021 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Roger Alton - life of Lawrence of Arabia

Club members please log in for more information.

4th November 2021 T.E. Lawrence – Roger Allton

Roger, who is obviously an authority on Lawrence of Arabia, posed the question: is he a Chapman, Lawrence, Ross or Shaw and he went on to elaborate on the ‘family tree’. Explaining that it was a moneyed Leicestershire family that was gifted land in Ireland by Sir Walter Raleigh, where his father and family lived.  His father moved out of the family home to live with the ‘nanny’, and with one child already, moved to Portmadoc, where  T.E., known as ’Ned’ was born. They never could marry, since his wife, a sincere Catholic, could not divorce her husband.

They moved to the New forest, France and St. Helier, but eventually ending up in Oxford, where ‘Ned’ with his four brothers were schooled. Ned was very interested in history and brass rubbings. However, he ran away from school and joined the army, but his father ‘bought him out’

After enrolling at College, in the long Vac. he travelled, first going to France and cycling around the whole country looking at Crusader Castles. Then in 1909 he set off to walk 1000 miles across the Ottoman Empire, again looking at and photographing Crusader Castles, with an interest in archaeology and Syrian ‘digs’. These castles are still extant.

The Great War saw him in the British Army, based in Cairo, drawing up maps, at which time he started to dress like an Arab. General Allenby had one huge 0/400 bomber that Lawrence showed off to the Arabs to impress them with the power of the British. He rode in a Rolls Royce staff car into Damascus after it fell. Lawrence was later offered a Knighthood, which he turned down, not wishing to profit from what he saw as the double-dealing of the British and French Governments.

Determined to be a menial, he joined the RAF as John Hume Ross, rank A/c 2. Although his camp colleagues liked him, the officers did not (probably due to all his top level connections and the press interest) and he was thrown out, so back to the army.  He bought ‘Clouds Hill’, now with the National Trust. Leaving the army again for the RAF now as A/c 2 Shaw. Lawrence became famous, mainly due to a theatre presentation of photos taken of his exploits in Arabia taken by an American Press reporter, which played to huge audiences. He asked to be posted away from the ‘limelight’ into northern India. However press rumours of his presence near to Afghanistan led to him being returned to England.

He then became secretary to Wing Commander Sidney Smith at RAF Mountbatten, involving him in Flying boats, and the Schneider Trophy Races. He saw the need for faster ‘rescue boats’ in cases of accidents on the water. These boats were developed by his direct involvement, and later became the Motor Torpedo Boats of W.W.II.

In his famous book ‘The seven Pillars of Wisdom’, he wrote of his Arabian adventures, and it was sold to his friends at a loss. This led to his translating The Odyssey by Homer, to repay his debts. He also compiled 27 key articles on how to deal with indigenous peoples, which the Americans later reprinted, and used in the Gulf War.

George Bernard Shaw gifted him several Nottingham built Brough Superior motorbikes, which he named ‘Boanerges’., for which he became famous riding especially at Cranwell, where he could travel faster up Ermine Street than the contemporary aircraft, flown by his fellow RAF servicemen. This love of speed eventually led to his death in 1935 when trying to avoid two boys on cycles when he turned a blind corner; dying later from head injuries. The accident led to the development of the ‘crash helmet’. 

His funeral saw a  full page in ‘The Times’, and many senior politicians were present, including Lord Trenchard the Marshall of the Royal Air Force, and Winston Churchill and his wife.

A very talented, if eccentric man, later brought again to the public’s attention in the 1962 epic film starring Peter O’Toole.

Roger fielded some questions about what the Arabs thought of Lawrence, his work with contemporary artists, author, archaeologist and linguist.  This was followed by an enthusiastic vote of thanks from Doug and members joined with a show of their appreciation.              AR

'What We Do' Main Pages:

If you like what we do as an organisation and are interested in volunteering with us, keeping up to date with our plans and future events then why not consider signing up as a friend of our Rotary Club


This is a monthly meeting open to visitors from Bingham, Radcliffe, Cotgrave and all villages in surrounding area.


This committee are involved in planning now we can raise funds for our chosen charities


It's here that you can read what we've been up to in the last few months. For more information on our work in the local community, with our young people and internationally please access "what we do" section of this web site.


And then there were two....


We have now successfully run this event for 10 years. Full reports of each year are available under this main page


Chris Netherwood is the chair of this committee


Our International Committee is involved with Polio Plus - a Rotary initiative to eradicate Polio, World-wide; Sand dams; Aqua Boxes; Shelter Boxes; Collecting used spectacles, and many other projects


Here you can read about the many meetings we've had during our formation as a Rotary Club. The early years are a little short on detail...