17 November 1916

“As my experience of Arab feeling in the Harb country had given
me strong opinions on the Rabegh question (indeed, most of my opinions were strong), I wrote for General Clayton, to whose Arab Bureau I was now formally transferred, a violent memorandum on the whole subject. Clayton was pleased with my view that the tribes might defend Rabegh for months if lent advice and guns, but that they would certainly scatter to their tents again as soon as they heard of the landing of foreigners in force. Further, that the intervention-plans were technically unsound, for a brigade would be quite insufficient to defend the position, to forbid the neighbouring water-supplies to the Turks, and to block their road towards Mecca. I accused [France’s] Colonel Bremond of having motives of his own, not military, nor taking account of Arab interests and of the importance of the revolt to us; and quoted his words and acts in Hejaz as
evidence against him. They gave just plausible colour to my charge.”

Events of 17 November 1916 as recounted by T. E. Lawrence in Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1926).

Now transferred to the Arab Bureau in Cairo, Lawrence wrote a memorandum opposing the landing of Allied troops at Rabegh – the so-called “Rabegh question” – causing consternation to Wingate and others who had argued in support of intervention.

In the next few days, however, he would learn that there were new ideas for him. Much against his wishes, Lawrence found that he was to sent back to Yenbo in the temporary position of a liaison officer. “So I had to go; leaving to others the Arab Bulletin I had founded, the maps I wished to draw, and the file of the war-changes of the Turkish Army, all fascinating activities in which my training helped me; to take up a role for which I felt no inclination,” he wrote. The date of his return was set for November 25.