June 15, 1917 - Arab Revolt: T.E. Lawrence and Arabs Cut Damascus-Medina Railroad
Pictured - A train engine blown up by Lawrence and the Arab rebels rests in the desert to this day.
The amount of money that the British government spent for Lawrence of Arabia’s campaign would have financed only seven hours of fighting on the Western Front. Yet the Arab Revolt, despite its minuscule size relative to the other fronts of the war, continues to grip the imagination in ways that few other historical adventures do. Out in the desert, the British archaeologist T.E. Lawrence continued to work with a band of Arab rebels against the Ottoman government. On June 15, 1917, they blew up a stretch of the Damascus-Medina railroad between Amman and Dera’a. In return for Arab help, the British government listened to Lawrence’s arguments for an independent Arab state after the war.
Yet Britain’s countless imperial entanglements promised certain dispute in the future. On the same day that Lawrence and his men blew the railroad tracks, a Royal Navy yacht secretly delivered two Palestinian Jewish agents to Athlit, where they would use explosives to destroy other portions of the railroad. By the end of the war, Britain was to have promised portions of the middle east to the Jews, the Arabs, and to the French - promises impossible to fulfill.