The exhibition Lawrence of Arabia and the Light Horse is a show that the Memorial is very proud to present. It is based on solid scholarship here and international cooperation. The Imperial War Museum, London, which staged an exhibition on Lawrence of Arabia two years ago, has been of great assistance. Additionally, we are indebted to the generosity of a number of overseas lenders. Developing this exhibition has also provided an opportunity for the Memorial to present some of its important historical treasures, most of them for the first time. Events in the First World War, a conflict in which Australians played an important part, shaped the modern-day Middle East. Some of the personalities of that time remain well known, while others have faded from memory.
|Australian Light Horse To Military|
Lawrence of Arabia is a name that still holds universal fascination. T.E. Lawrence, the Arab army, and the leaders and men of the Australian Light Horse, all played their part in the liberation of Palestine and Syria from Turkish rule; they came together in dramatic fashion for the final capture of Damascus in 1918.
The Australian Light Horse has a unique place in our history. A mounted force from a young nation, it
fought across the world’s ancient battlefields, entering Jerusalem and taking part in the capture of Damascus. The earlier charge at Beersheba in 1917 is regarded as one of the last great mounted charges in history.
General Sir Harry Chauvel was probably the greatest light horseman of all; he rose to command the famous
Desert Mounted Corps.
Important artists and photographers, such as George Lambert, James McBey, Augustus John, and Frank Hurley, together with historians and writers from Ion Idriess and Banjo Paterson to Lowell Thomas and Lawrence himself, have left us a record of this theatre of war and of those who were involved. Lawrence’s book, Seven pillars of wisdom, is still one of the most read books in the language, and has never been out of print. In recent years there has been a strong renewal of interest in its contents. Many soldiers too left their own accounts in snapshots, letters, and diaries.
|History Australian Light Horse|
The exhibition presents a range of precious objects, and it also refers to the other ways this campaign in the Middle East has been recalled. In 1940 the film Forty Thousand Horsemen was released; it became an Australian classic. In 1962 Lawrence of Arabia appeared. It went on to win seven Oscars, including Best Picture. There have also been more recent films and books.
The Memorial is proud to present this tribute to the Australian Light Horse and to explain its place alongside the story of Lawrence of Arabia and in the context of the Middle East campaigns of the First World War. I am indebted to the exhibition’s curator, Mal Booth, and to its historian, Nigel Steel. Lawrence’s biographer, Jeremy Wilson, also provided support and advice during the development of the exhibition. Finally, my warm thanks and appreciation are extended to our overseas lenders: the Imperial War Museum; the Royal Collection Trust; the National Archives; All Souls College, Oxford; the Fashion Museum; the Tate; Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King’s College London; the Royal Society for Asian Affairs; and the National Film and Sound Archives.