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, July 24, 2013

Mena Garland 1919 - 2013

Mena Garland on her 90th birthday
I have received news that Major Herbert Garland's daughter Mena Garland (married surname O'Connor) passed away in Newport, Rhode Island, at 4am on Saturday morning aged 93. 

Mena was Herbert's sixth child and was born in Cairo on 17 November 1919 during his brief tenure as the Director of the Arab Bureau and editor of the final issues of the Arab Bulletin. See: Bimbashi (Major) Herbert Garland's story in An Oriental Assembly 

After long periods of ill-health brought on by the rigours of desert warfare Garland died from an aortic aneurism less than sixteen months after Mena was born, leaving scant record of the circumstances of his death. Remarkably, it took his daughter more than 80 years to discover her father's final resting place in an unmarked grave in the English town of Gravesend on the south bank of the Thames. Today that grave has the following inscription: “LOST BUT FOUND IN 2004”, a poignant reminder of the long journey taken by Mena to find the father she barely knew but who she wished to restore to his rightful place in the history of the desert campaigns of the First World War alongside Stewart Newcombe and T.E. Lawrence. It was a journey that ultimately helped reconnect the various strands of Herbert's family and renew worldwide interest in the career of the man recently called Lawrence's brother-in-arms. 

Bimbashi Herbert Garland
Regrettably, Mena was unable to read my entry on Herbert Garland for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography which is due to be published later this year, but she always showed a deep interest and appreciation of the entries in this blog that mentioned his exploits.