T.E. Lawrence, aka Lawrence of Arabia, pictured on his Brough Superior in 1925 or 1926, died May 19, 1935, in a motorcycle crash. File Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
WOOL, England -- As a hero dies, Lawrence of Arabia died at eight a.m. today, fighting.
Hopelessly injured when he deliberately wrecked his speeding motorcycle last Monday to avoid hitting a youth on a bicycle, the soldier who was Britain's son and Arabia's uncrowned king struggled for seven days to live, though without once regaining consciousness.
England's greatest specialists, including the King's physician, Sir Farquhar Buzzard, were unable to relieve Lawrence's coma. Without avail they exhausted every known aid to the medical science in an effort to save him.
His brother, A.W. Lawrence, Buzzard, two London specialists and Wool military hospital doctors were at the beside when Lawrence died, a peaceful expression seeming to light up his face.
Hurled nearly a hundred feet when his motorcycle struck a telegraph pole the 46-year-old military leader received a compound fracture of the skull, a broken leg and internal injuries.
Dr. H.W.B. Cairns, brain specialist, said "his lacerations were so severe that even in the event he recovered he would have regained only partial speech and eyesight."
Lawrence's brother issued a statement saying that according to the soldier's and also his family's wishes, admirers would be requested not to send flowers. He said a few intimate friends would attend a simple funeral on Tuesday.
The coffin was draped in a Union Jack and placed in a small chapel adjoining the military hospital, where a coroner's inquest will be held after the funeral.
A hospital attache announced to the waiting crowds outside that "everything possible was done to save him but he just died after a great struggle."
So modest and retiring that his seclusion in recent years had built an atmosphere of mystery about him, Lawrence was regarded as one of the most remarkable men ever to serve in the British army. His glamorous title "Lawrence of Arabia," belying his simple manner, was given him unofficially for his work in organizing roaming Arab tribesmen into an army which successfully repelled Turkish invasions and saved Arabia.
In 1914, a young man of 26, three years out of Oxford, he was in Egypt with a British museum excavating expedition. He entertained the army as a second lieutenant. Three years later he was uncrowned king of Arabia, and from being officially called Col. Thomas E. Lawrence, he came to be known in two hemispheres simply as Lawrence of Arabia. He organized the tribesmen who aided Great Britain in winning the Near East for the allies in the World war.
He was lionized at the end of the war. Taken to the Paris peace conference, he later became adviser on Middle Eastern affairs to the British colonial office.
He accused the British government of repudiating promises it made in return for Arab support, however, and withdrew to an almost hermit-like life from which came his great work, "Revolt in the Desert," a story of his turbulent years in Arabia.
No sooner was it finished than he changed his name to T.E. Shaw, by which he went up to the time of his death, and enlisted as a private in the Royal Air Force. He served throughout his enlistment as an aircraftsman.
In the air force, he managed to indulge in his favorite sport, speed boating. He got a speed boat and made it -- he hoped -- bomb proof. Then in the interest of national defense, he invited aviators to bomb him while he was speeding. He emerged unscathed from the tests.
Finishing his eight-year enlistment last March as "Aircraftsman T.E. Shaw," Lawrence left the Royal Air Force depot at Bridlington and bicycled away to be alone.
From then until the accident, he had lived secluded in an unobtrusive farm house near Wool.