On 24 July 1920, 36-year-old war minister Yusuf al-Azma walked solemnly into the office of King Faisal I of Syria. This was just hours before the Syrian army was to fight the invading French forces at the Battle of Maysaloun, not far from the Syrian capital.
Al-Azma headed his troops on that fateful day in Syrian history. He was the only Syrian officer to die in combat, forever immortalising his name in the collective psyche of the Syrian nation.
Before departing, he told the king that he knew that death awaited him at Maysaloun, but did not want history to say that the French had occupied Syria and imposed their mandate without serious resistance from the Syrian people.
Al-Azma saluted the king and said: “I leave my only daughter in the care of Your Majesty.”
Details of this meeting – the last between Faisal and Yusuf al-Azma – were recorded in the memoirs of the king’s physician Ahmad Qadri, published in Damascus in 1956.
Qadri wrote: “Faisal allocated a monthly allowance of 20 sterling pounds for the daughter of Yusuf al-Azma, in appreciation of her father’s sacrifice, and the money would reach her regularly.”