In 1916 British Intelligence supports the Arab rebellion against the Turkish-German alliance. Dryden, a civilian member of the Arab Bureau, selects Lt. T. E. Lawrence, an enigmatic twenty-nine-year-old scholar, to evaluate the Arab revolt. Enthusiastically undertaking this assignment, the officer contacts Prince Feisal, a rebel leader, and persuades Feisal to lend him a force of fifty men. With this skeleton band, accompanied by Sherif Ali ibn el Karish, Lawrence crosses the Nefud Desert. At the journey's end, however, Lawrence learns that one of his men is missing. Undeterred by Arab assertions that the missing man's death had been divinely decreed, Lawrence returns to the desert and rescues him, earning thereby Ali's friendship and the respect of his subordinates. At a well Lawrence is confronted by the sheikh Auda Abu Tayi, whom he persuades to join the assault on Aqaba, a Turkish port at the desert's edge. The Turks, surprised by the overland attack, are routed, and the victory revitalizes the Arab rebellion. Arab unity, however, is undermined by internecine warfare. When one of his troop slays one of Auda Abu Tayi's henchmen, Lawrence in expiation executes the murderer, who proves to be the Arab he had saved in the desert. Unnerved, Lawrence returns to Cairo. Delighted by Lawrence's military success, however, General Allenby provides him with arms and money for future victories. Lawrence launches a series of successful guerrilla raids, which, as reported by American journalist Jackson Bentley, establish his international reputation. While on a scouting mission with Ali, Lawrence is captured and tortured by the Turks. He returns to Cairo, where General Allenby persuades him to spearhead an attack on Damascus. After the battle, Lawrence leads his men in the massacre of the retreating Turks. Upon entering Damascus the British Army is met by victorious Arab forces. Lawrence relinquishes control of the city to an Arab Council, but soon factionalism threatens to destroy it. On May 19, 1935, Lawrence dies in a motorcycle crash in Dorset, England, and is commemorated in services at St. Paul's.