“… there came a rude surprise. Colonel Bremond called to felicitate me on the capture of Wejh, saying that it confirmed his belief in my military talent and encouraged him to expect my help in an extension of our success. He wanted to occupy Akaba with an Anglo-French force and naval help. He pointed out the importance of Akaba, the only Turkish port left in the Red Sea, the nearest to the Suez Canal, the nearest to the Hejaz Railway, on the left flank of the Beersheba army; suggesting its occupation by a composite brigade, which should advance up Wadi Itm for a crushing blow at Maan. He began to enlarge on the nature of the ground …
“… In my opinion, Akaba, whose importance was all and more than he said, would be best taken by Arab irregulars descending from the interior without naval help.
“Bremond did not tell me (but I knew) that he wanted the landing at
Akaba to head off the Arab movement, by getting a mixed force in front of them (as at Rabegh), so that they might be confined to Arabia, and compelled to waste their efforts against Medina. The Arabs still feared that the Sherif’s alliance with us was based on a secret agreement to sell them at the end, and such a Christian invasion would have confirmed these fears and destroyed their cooperation. For my part, I did not tell Bremond (but he knew) that I meant to defeat his efforts and to take the Arabs soon into Damascus. It amused me, this childishly-conceived rivalry of
vital aims, but he ended his talk ominously by saying that, anyhow, he was going down to put the scheme to Feisal in Wejh.”
Events of 3 February 1917 as recounted by T. E. Lawrence in Seven
Pillars of Wisdom (1926).
Lawrence’s position as liaison officer to Feisal was meant to be handed over to Newcombe after the fall of Wejh, and he returned to Cairo. However, a request from Feisal that Lawrence should remain in the Hejaz “as he has given such very great assistance” would lead to his liaison role being extended.
On the evening of 3 February, Lawrence found himself hurrying to catch the 6.15pm train to Suez after a visit from Colonel Bremond necessitated his immediate return to Wejh, to reach Feisal before his French adversary.