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.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Boy in the Mask - a suitable Lock Down read!

Being locked down in a small Spanish town due to the Coronavirus pandemic with restricted movement outside of the home gives me the opportunity to read a book that I have only briefly delved into when looking for a specific item relevant to my own research. Now it's time to start at the beginning of the aptly named The Boy in the Mask. This is Dick Benson-Gyles' look into the 'hidden world of Lawrence of Arabia', from his Anglo-Irish heritage, his enduring fame as a leader of a Bedouin army, through to his quest for obscurity as a humble aircraftman; a book that author and television producer, the late Malcolm Brown, described as both moving and enlightened. In his Foreword, Brown wrote: "Dick Benson-Gyles has achieved something rather remarkable." 

So a good choice as today it is St. Patrick's Day. Time to explore Lawrence's Irish connections. Sláinte! 

Fresh light on a reluctant hero