May 19, 1935: The celebrated British military hero Lawrence of Arabia died on this day in 1935 after being catapulted from his motorbike as he swerved to avoid two boys on bicycles.
Colonel T.E. Lawrence, whose First World War desert adventures inspired a 1962 movie that won seven Oscars, succumbed to his injuries six days after the accident.
The former liaison officer, who famously dressed as a Bedouin while leading an Arab revolt, insisted on having a simple funeral near his home in Dorset.
But it was still attended by a host of celebrities, including future Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who was filmed arriving at the church in Moreton.
A British Pathe newsreel also captured Albert Hargreaves, 14, who was one of the cyclists Lawrence had tried to avoid after coming over a blind hill.
Lawrence, the illegitimate son of landowner Sir Thomas Chapman, refused a knighthood for himself in 1918 and famously hated conformity.
Yet his valiant deeds and indomitable spirit helped him win the hearts of many he encountered.
The former Oxford University scholar, who had extensively travelled through the Middle East doing research, was recruited by British intelligence in Cairo in 1914.
In 1916 he was sent to present-day Saudi Arabia to help insurgents fight the Turks of the Ottoman Empire, which then ruled the region and had sided with Germany.
He helped Hashemite forces to carry out guerrilla attacks and – to the astonishment of his hosts, who called him ‘El Aurens’ – took great pride in living like a Bedouin.
Most famously, he led a daring raid on Aqaba - in present-day Jordan – after a tortuous eight-week camel trek across the desert.
Lawrence, who at the time was ranked captain, realised the remote coastal city’s fixed guns faced only the sea and therefore could not repel an inland attack.
He was revered by Arabs, who he hoped might establish an independent pan-Arabian state after the war.
Yet his dreams were dashed after the Britain and France largely divided the region following the death of the Ottoman Empire.
After the war, Lawrence joined the RAF and, as well as learning to fly, enjoyed high-speed boats and motorcycles. He retired from the forces in 1935.