5 May 1917

In the first few days after leaving Wejh, progress for the car reconnaissance crew proved to be slow. In his field notebook, Lawrence recorded the Crossley tender becoming stuck time after time (“seven times in 20 yards” at one point) due to the sandy terrain and thick brushwood impeding their way (hamdh bushes, hence the name Wadi Hamdh).

The crew were kept busy mending punctures. Then, late in the evening of the fourth day, the crown wheel on the back axle broke all its teeth, bringing the car to a halt while the crew carried out repairs late into the night.

Throughout the journey, supplies of food and water, as well as spare motor parts, were delivered morning and evening by Captains Henderson and Stent of C Flight, 14 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, in their BE2cs. But on the morning of May 1, Stent crashed into a tump on landing, and was forced to stay overnight with the crew and the still disabled Crossley tender. The next morning, Henderson landed, breaking the tail-piece on his plane.

After the tail-piece was mended, Stent flew Henderson’s plane back to Wejh, leaving behind Henderson with the crew, before returning the next morning with replacement parts for the Crossley tender. The tender was then repaired and driven on to locate the plane that had come down on April 26. Meanwhile, Henderson flew back to Wejh, taking Lawrence with him.

Once a replacement engine had been fitted, the BE2c plane that had been stranded on April 26 was flown back to Wejh by Stent on May 4, followed the next day by the Crossley tender.

But the car adventure was not yet over for Lawrence. Captain Stent’s plane, which had crash-landed on May 1, was still waiting to be salved …

(Events taken from Lawrence’s field notebook, British Library, Add MS 45915.)