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Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia was a gay misfit who created a new type of warfare and helped shape the Middle East

Thomas Edward Lawrence had a thirst for adventure and is known as the founding father of guerrilla warfare

Lawrence of Arabia’s almost mythical taste for adventure was driven by a tormented need to prove himself.

As a teenager , Thomas Edward Lawrence cycled round France ­studying castles driven by his ­obsession with the crusades and chivalry.

The Englishman’s family had to buy him out of the Army when he ran away from home to enlist when he was 17.

And when he was at college in Oxford he spent three months walking around medieval castles in Syria – trekking 1,000 miles on foot.

By anyone’s understanding, T E Lawrence had an unconventional upbringing.

But then the explorer, soldier and author of Seven Pillars of Wisdom was, a new book says, driven by an ­obsessive need to prove himself because he was born illegitimate and gay.

Neil Faulkner’s book, Lawrence of Arabia’s War, is based on 10 years of archaeological research carried out by the Great Arab Revolt Project.

Earlier this year, his team unearthed a bullet proving Lawrence WAS at the scene of a train ambush in Halat Ammar, Saudi Arabia – made famous in the 1962 movie Lawrence of Arabia, starring Peter O’Toole in the title role.

The find helped cement Lawrence’s place as the founding father of modern guerrilla warfare.

Dr Faulkner said: “He was a misfit and a maverick and that equipped him for a role no other British officer could have played.

“He was illegitimate and he was affected badly when he became aware of it. He had questions about who he was.

“There were questions about whether he was ‘normal’ because he was gay. He was a repressed homosexual and developed sado-masochistic disorder.”

Dr Faulkner also says his identity crisis was central to his pivotal role in the Great Arab Revolt of 1916-18.

Working with Arab leaders, Lawrence led guerrilla raids on ruling Turks – and ambushing trains was their signature attack.

Faulkner tells how a young Lawrence had retreated into the Middle Ages, becoming obsessed with the Crusades and the need to find a heroic father figure.

For Lawrence, the author claims, modern desert Arabs on their camels were like the mounted knights of medieval Europe.

So when war broke out while he was working in Syria as an archaeologist – and almost certainly as a spy – it was only natural he would don the flowing robes and fight alongside them.

Faulkner’s GARP team reported: “It is likely that Lawrence formed a close relationship with a young Arab called Dahoum during his time at Carchemish and that this proved to be the most important sexual relationship of his life.

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