‌World War I had an enormous impact on Gertrude Bell, changing her life dramatically.  In 1915 Gertrude was invited to join the newly formed Arab Bureau in Cairo. Here she worked alongside Middle East specialists, including T.E. Lawrence, in attempts to destabilise the Ottoman Empire and encourage an Arab uprising. She continued to work for the British Government in a variety of posts throughout the war, moving from Cairo to Basra, and eventually to Baghdad.  It was at this time that she began working closely with Sir Percy Cox, the chief British political officer in Mesopotamia.

The British campaigns against Ottoman Turkey, which form the background to this period in Gertrude Bell’s life, tend to be neglected in comparison with events in Europe. However they were of great strategic importance. The British were determined to protect the Suez Canal which was vital for communications between India and Britain. In addition the oil resources of the Middle East were becoming increasingly important.

In the picture: Coronation of Faisal in Baghdad, 1921.

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