Colonel Stewart Francis Newcombe was already a legend in the deserts of Arabia before he was joined in Cairo during the early months of the First World War by a group of extraordinary specialists in Middle Eastern affairs. One member of this group was T.E. Lawrence who went on to achieve worldwide fame. Colonel Newcombe's story, like those of other unsung figures in the Anglo-Arabian panoply, has been eclipsed by the legend of ´Lawrence of Arabia´, and has languished in the dusty recesses of regimental records, government files or in the elliptical words of Lawrence’s book Seven Pillars of Wisdom. However, S.F. Newcombe´s untold story is there to be told. IN THE SHADOW OF THE CRESCENT is a story of extraordinary exploits and courage, coupled with Newcombe's own legendary and inexhaustible supply of energy and of remarkable adventures under the very noses of the Ottoman authorities – full of danger, intrigue and perhaps more surprisingly, of romance during Newcombe's captivity in Turkey.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Interesting amendment

The obituary of Baroness Elles (Diana Newcombe) that appeared in the Daily Telegraph (29 October 2009) stated that as a girl she never met her father's friend T. E. Lawrence because "when he visited she was kept in the nursery, since 'Lawrence didn't like little girls'." The online version was hastily amended following intervention from a family member and the sentence deleted. According to Baroness Elles' unfinished memoir of her father it appears that the truth was quite different and that she did in fact meet Lawrence on several occasions. The last of these, for instance, was in 1935 when at the age of 13 she took him to the Science Museum in London and made plans to visit him at Clouds Hill, Lawrence's Dorset cottage. She expressed regret that she was never able to make the agreed visit, as Lawrence died shortly afterwards in a motorcycle crash.