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New coins commemorate Lawrence of Arabia’s role in First World War

The historical figure, a British intelligence officer, fought in the Middle East.

Coins marking the role played by the enigmatic figure known as Lawrence of Arabia are being launched by the Royal Mint as part of a First World War collection.

Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, was a charismatic British intelligence officer who fought alongside guerrilla forces in the Middle East during the war.

His portrait will be depicted on precious metal £5 coins in gold and silver, and will be among the Royal Mint’s six-coin sets for 2018 alongside a selection of people, themes and events that continue the organisation’s telling of the First World War story.

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The Royal Mint’s coin highlighting Lawrence of Arabia (Royal Mint/PA)

Nicola Howell, the Royal Mint’s director of consumer business, said: “The Royal Mint has a long association with the military, having made medals for military campaigns since 1815.

“So we are honoured this year to be reflecting on the wartime work of TE Lawrence, and focusing on other poignant First World War themes from 1918, 100 years on.”

Designer of the Lawrence of Arabia coin, sculptor David Cornell, said he chose to show Lawrence in his Arabian headdress, “flowing down to almost become part of the desert itself”.

Born in North Wales in 1888, Lawrence joined the army in 1914 and by December was posted to Cairo, Egypt, as a liaison and map officer – he had worked as an archaeologist and photographer, making him familiar with the region, the Royal Mint said.

After almost two years in Cairo, he began to undertake dangerous missions inside enemy territory in Arabia, following the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkey in June 1916.

In 1935, Lawrence was involved in a motorcycle accident near his home in Dorset, and died in hospital on May 19, aged 46.

His story reached a new worldwide audience through the massively successful multi-Oscar winning 1962 film Lawrence Of Arabia, starring Peter O’Toole.

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