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Author Topic: Lawrence of Arabia Bullet 'Found'  (Read 8567 times)

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Offline khanmak

  • AFTE Friend
  • Posts: 4
Lawrence of Arabia Bullet 'Found'
« on: April 19, 2016, 06:02:19 AM »
I am not sure if any forum members are aware of this. The bullet in question can be viewed in a photo on the University of Bristol Press release:   

I would be interested in members thoughts. Further details below.....
Recently, a claim has been made by a team of archaeologists, led by the University of Bristol in the UK who claim to have found a spent bullet fired by T.E Lawrence during an action that took place at Hallat Ammar in what is now Jordan during the First World War. The specific action relates an ambush of a train carrying Turkish soldiers and was immortalised in a scene in David Lean’s Oscar-winning 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia..
Professor Nicholas Saunders claims: “The bullet we found came from a Colt automatic pistol, the type of gun known to be carried by Lawrence and almost certainly not used by any of the ambush’s other participants.”
The Colt automatic pistol in question is related elsewhere as being a Colt 1911 automatic pistol, which fired a specific type of .45 ACP ammunition. The claim that this bullet was fired by Lawrence however, seems subjective and a detailed forensic ballistic report confirming that the bullet was fired by the weapon claimed has yet to be published.  The only evidence currently available is a single image showing the actual bullet.

Despite requests sent to the University of Bristol see the research or forensic ballistic analysis to back up the claim; no further information has been forthcoming. Owing to the lack of currently unavailable research reports/forensic ballistic analysis the picture released in the University press release an now available in the public domain is therefore the only currently available evidence.  The actual construction of the bullet is unclear, but if it appears to be solid lead. If this is the case then it will not be .45 ACP bullet as claimed. Construction of.45 ACP ammunition available at that time was of a gilding metal cup around a lead/antimony core. Additionally, the M1911 Colt has 6 groove left hand twist rifling (1 turn in 16", groove diameter .451"-.001"). The rifling on this bullet appears to be right hand twist.

Looking in more detail at the claim that Lawrence owned a Colt 1911, it is believed that this has yet to be clearly substantiated as well. An example of a known link appears to be a reference to a letter written by Lawrences's brother relating to the bullet weight (in grains) that certainly does equate to a .45 ACP round. No comprehensive proof seems to exist however that Lawrence chose to arm himself with this weapon during the attack on the train. Pictures of him with it do not seem to exist or are certainly very difficult to find. One has to question also why he would choose to arm himself with a side arm that used a different type of ammunition than would not be readily available in the circumstances.
The standard British side arm would have been a .455 revolver - firing completely different ammunition and would have been provided by the British military logistic system, whereas the .45 ACP would not and would have relied on Lawrence to obtain supplies himself.

Based on the only evidence available currently (the rather poor image) the contender for the type of bullet actually appears to be far more likely to be an Austrian 11.3x36R Rast Gasser revolver round which were known to be used by the Turks.
Interestingly, Lawrence's own account of the action at Hallat Ammar clearly details the presence of Austrian officers on the train and one of them firing a pistol at Lawrence's body guard.

Offline khanmak

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  • Posts: 4
Re: Lawrence of Arabia Bullet 'Found'
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2016, 07:57:31 AM »
An additional image to the one in the University of Bristol press release with some comparators.


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