In the 1920s "Lawrence of Arabia" was a household name. His exploits as an intelligence officer and saboteur in the desert had been seized upon by the media. He was a glamorous figure. But Lawrence was a complex man. Weary of fame, he decided to enlist as an ordinary man in the armed forces.
In 1922, using the name, John Hume Ross, he underwent basic training at RAF Uxbridge. He described the experience in a book, The Mint. Lawrence was older than the other recruits and found the physical exercise and arms drill very tiring. He also resented the deliberate humiliations meted out by the NCOs.
After ten weeks Lawrence was posted to Farnborough for a photography course. When the Daily Express revealed his identity, he had to leave the RAF. However, he enlisted again, this time using the name Shaw – borrowed from his friend George Bernard Shaw. He subsequently served in the Tank Corps and the RAF, even reappearing briefly at Uxbridge in 1925.