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Perspective: John E. Mack on Akaba

Excerpt from the two pages on this subject in the 1976 edition of John E. Mack’s Pulitzer Prize winning biography A Prince of Our Disorder: The Life of T.E. Lawrence

“In March Lawrence met Auda abu Tayi, ‘the greatest fighting man in northern Arabia,’ whose support would be necessary for the advance on Akaba….In the spring of 1917, in the tents of the Bedouin leaders and in consultation with [Gilbert] Clayton, [Reginald] Wingate and other British officers in Egypt, the plan to take Akaba by land was developed….

Lawrence, Auda and several hundred Bedouin from various tribes of the region moved back in a southwesterly direction, taking the Turkish forces by surprise. They moved….down the narrow and rugged defile…to Akaba, where the Turkish garrison surrendered on July 6….

With the capture of Akaba – it was taken almost without casualties – the war in the Hijaz ended. Faisal could move his base there from Wejh, Sinai was secure, and the British were provided with a vital seaport for supplying their armies in Palestine for operations to the north….

A contemporary example of how Lawrence’s exploits during the previous month were regarded by other British officers…is provided in the diary…of an intelligence officer in Cairo, Captain Orlo Williams, who wrote four days after the capture of Akaba: ‘Lawrence…has just returned, dressed as an Arab, from a most gallant adventurous sojourn in Arabia….’”