The epic tale of how one bullet changed the course of history by triggering a revolution that helped bring down centuries-old empire in the Middle East, turns out to be more close to reality than it was previously imagined. Every history student is familiar with the life and works of Lawrence of Arabia and his vital contribution towards the formation of modern Middle East.
In a famous ambush orchestrated by the British Intelligence office TE Lawrence (famously known as Lawrence of Arabia) with the help of Arab rebels in the desserts bordering Jordan and modern day Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Lawrence fired the first bullet.
Lawrence and his aides gathered the information of a Turkish train crossing the border on 17 Sep, 1917. Lawrence reportedly fired the first fire signalling the line of Arab rebels to start shooting at the Turkish guards sitting at the top of carriages. The attack was successful and triggered an accelerated unrest in the empire which eventually took down century’s old Turkish hold over Arabian Peninsula.
The scene of the ambush was immortalized by the director David Lean in his famous Hollywood portrayal of the legendary British officer.
The Archaeological team of Bristol University has spent most part of the last century painstakingly sifting through piles of documents and previously untouched sites, in order to see the story of Lawrence of Arabia in a fresh light. The project was carried out by an expert team GARP (Great Arab Revolt Project), with an aim to gather more information about the epic ambush. Dr. Neil Faulkner led the dessert search along with a number of other experts including three metal detector experts. Dr. Faulkner said that one thing that proved to be vital in their search of the details was the fact that Lawrence was using the colt gun.
The team of GARP visited the famous site in Jordan called Halat Ammar under heaving military supervision, and carried out a three days search operation yielding great success. According to Lawrence’s own account, he had a colt-1911 at the time (unlike the long rifle the character was shown firing in the movie) while the Arab rebels had Lee Enfield Rifles. Researchers found the legendary bullet shell fired from the colt and .303 shells fired from Lee Enfield Rifles, proving that Lawrence of Arabia was not entirely exaggerating the events that took place on Sep 17 afternoon.
Dr. Neil Faulkner’s book on famous Arab revolt, ‘Lawrence of Arabia’s war’ has already been published with an aim to undo the long-held misconceptions by the historians and critics of LE Lawrence.