T E Lawrence

Born: August 16, 1888 Tremadog
Died: May 19, 1935, Bovington Camp Dorset
Thomas Edward Lawrence CB DSO was an archaeologist and British Army officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, and the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916–18.

At 8.00am on Sunday 19 May 1935, Thomas Edward Shaw, a little known local resident in the heathland parish of nearby Turners Puddle, died of head injuries received six days earlier on Monday 13 May, in a traffic accident three-quarters of a mile north of Bovington Camp. His death guaranteed his eternal place in myth and legend, becoming the subject of countless books, speculation, conspiracy theories, and the focus of David Lean's 1962, Oscar winning blockbuster movie starring Peter O'Toole. Shaw who had changed his name by deed poll in 1923 from ‘John Hume Ross'- to thwart unwelcome publicity was in fact Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, known ' world-wide as the legendary, ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ the enigmatic WWI hero who rallied the Arab tribes during the Sinai l and Palestine Campaign, and  the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule between 1916-18. His first ill-fated attempt at self-imposed obscurity was in 1922 when he enlisted in the Royal Air Force under the alias, ‘John Hume Ross,‘ but unfortunately the media soon discovered his true identity, forcing his resignation. Undaunted, in March 1923, using the assumed name, ‘Thomas Edward Shaw‘ he joined the Royal Tank Corps, as a Private, and found himself posted to Bovington Camp. He loathed army life, petitioning powerful friends for a transfer back to the RAF.
In August 1925, he was re-admitted and served until retirement in 1935. After leaving the RAF, he lived frugally in a tiny, former gamekeeper's cottage at Clouds Hill. It was while returning to his beloved cottage from Bovington Camp's Post Office aboard his l,000cc S5100 Brough ‘Superior’ motorcycle (Reg.GW 2275), when he collided with E two bicycling delivery boys. Thrown from his machine and sustaining severe head wounds he was subquently taken to Bovington Camp's military hospital, where, six days later he died without regaining consciousness. He was 46yrs old.
He lies buried in l\/loreton Churchyard just north of  Bovington Camp. Ironically, his grave bears the name T E Lawrence, the name he tried so desperately to conceal, and not T E Shaw,  by his legal name when he died. The precise crash site is the tank crossing, three-quarters of a mile north of Bovington Camp (OS map reference SY 826 905). There is a plaque commemorating the fatal collision in the car-park on the eastern side of the road close to the crash site. The Tank Museum has on display a similar Brough ‘Superior’ to the one owned by Lawrence, alongside an exhibition of Lawrence memorabilia.

Despite the lack of warning, his funeral a week later was attended by the great and the good of the country including Sir Winston and Lady Churchill. Scenes from the occasion can be seen in the Lawrence Room at the Tea Rooms, as can the estate bier (coffin trolley).

The village school provided the choir for the funeral. By coincidence the twins Walter and Harry Pitman who refuelled Lawrence’s motorcycle at Bovington immediately before his accident were also in the choir.