Handley Page reaches rendezvous with Lawrence of Arabia

Accession Number ART14279
Collection type Art
Measurement framed: 62 x 72 cm; unframed: 50.4 x 61.2 cm
Object type Painting
Physical description oil on canvas
Maker Reid, Stuart
Date made 1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Unlicensed copyright


This painting shows the first landing of the Handley Page near Amman when Sir Ross Smith first went out to meet Colonel Lawrence. The aircraft is a Handley Page O/400 bomber. 'The German airmen at Deraa discovered Lawrence's camp at El Umtaiye, and bombed it several times during September 18th and 19th. The two B.E.12.a's brought from Akaba with the expedition were quite unequal to a combat with these Deraa machines, and both were put out of action-one in an air-fight, one by German bombs."

Lawrence decided to represent the situation personally at Allenby's headquarters. Peters and Traill flew from Ramleh to Azrak on September 21st, and there Peters left Traill and returned with Lawrence. Meanwhile Lawrence's raiders retired from El Umtaiye to Um es Surab, a place whose only perceptible merit was that it was farther away from the hornets nest at Deraa. On September 22nd Lawrence, on his return journey, reached Um es Surab in the observer's seat of Peters machine. Ross Smith and Mustard (observer) and Headlam and Lilly were sent with Peters in order to attack the German machines at Deraa. The news which the airmen brought of the events on the coast greatly excited the force in the desert. The Arabs received the Bristol Fighters with acclamation, but when next day the giant Handley-Page machine arrived at Um es Surab the tribes were moved to the wildest enthusiasm. They sang, danced, and cheered around it, firing volleys into the air in an ecstasy of delight.' (Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, 'The Battle of Armageddon', in Volume VIII. The Australian Flying Corps in the Western and Eastern Theatres of War, 1914-1918 (11th edition, 1941), 21st-25th September 1918, pp. 163-164.