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Biography pages:

Who was 'Lawrence of Arabia'

Introductory biography

T. E. Lawrence as writer

Chronology of Lawrence's life




Memorials to Lawrence

Some quotations

T. E. Lawrence manuscripts

Books dedicated to Lawrence

Research and discussion

The state of T.E. Lawrence scholarship

Rejected legend

David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia


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Jeremy Wilson



Royal Air Force file AIR 1/2692
338171 A.C.1 Shaw, TE

National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office), London
Personal File [consisting of various smaller files from different dates]


The file is in several sections. Apart from the initial section of correspondence, documents have been listed here approximately in chronological order. They are not in this order in the file.

In addition to the content specifically noted below, the file also contains documents and minute sheets relating to:

  • The preservation of these documents
  • Payment of £3-0-1, being outstanding pay due to Lawrence following his discharge from the RAF in 1923
  • Formalities connected with Lawrence's discharge in 1935
  • Various other minor formalities.

1922-35: Mainly facsimiles/carbon copies of correspondence with T.E. Lawrence (original TEL letters were held in file S32119)

1922 Nov 1 T. E. Lawrence to Oliver Swann (facsimile)
1922 Nov 9 T. E. Lawrence to Oliver Swann (facsimile)
1922 Nov 19 T. E. Lawrence to Oliver Swann (facsimile)
1923 Jan 28 T.E. Lawrence to T.B. Marson
1923 Jan 29 Sir H. Trenchard to T.E. Lawrence (carbon copy and typed copy)
1923 Jan 30 Sir H. Trenchard to T.E. Lawrence (carbon copy)
1923 Feb 2 Sir Hugh Trenchard to T.E. Lawrence (telegram)
1923 Mar 19 Sir H. Trenchard to T. E. Lawrence (carbon copy)
1923 Mar 28 T. E. Lawrence to Sir Hugh Trenchard (facsimile)
1924 Mar 1 T. E. Lawrence to Sir Hugh Trenchard (facsimile)
1924 Mar 4 Sir H. Trenchard to T. E. Lawrence (carbon copy)
1925 Feb 6 T. E. Lawrence to Sir Hugh Trenchard (facsimile)
1935 Feb 25 T. E. Lawrence to Sir Edward Ellington (facsimile)
1935 Feb 26 Sir Edward Ellington to T.E. Lawrence (carbon copy)
Most if not all of these letters have been published, notably in H. Montgomery Hyde, Solitary in the Ranks (London, Constable, 1977).
1922: Lawrence's enlistment as J. H. Ross
1922 Aug 16  Approval for Lawrence to enlist under the pseudonym J.H. Ross.
1922 Sep 1 RAF Recruiting Office at Henrietta Street to Oliver Swann.  Confirmation by the recruiting officer that Ross has been enlisted.
1922: Lawrence at RAF School of Photography, Farnborough
1922 Nov 7 internal memo Confirming telephone conversation of 3 November: Lawrence is to be posted forthwith from RAF Depot Uxbridge to the School of Photography at Farnborough.
1922 Nov 10 reply Lawrence posted to Farnborough with effect from 9 November 1922
n.d.  [Draft?] instruction from Oliver Swann that Lawrence's photographic course should be accelerated.
1922 Nov 18 [Retrospective] instruction that Lawrence should be transferred to Farnborough where his training should be accelerated and reported upon after a month.
1922 Nov 25 Reply: Lawrence was placed under training at Farnborough on 23 Nov.
1922-3: Press exposure of Lawrence's enlistment and his subsequent discharge
n.d. [December] Note by Oliver Swann Lawrence to be ordered to report to the Recruiting Office at Henrietta Street and there given 9 days' leave.
1922 Dec 2 telegram to Recruiting office Henrietta Street  Giving orders for Lawrence to report to Henrietta Street at 1000 hours on 5 December.
1922 Dec 2 telegram Lawrence will report on 5 December and is to be given leave, after which he will return to Farnborough.
1922 Dec 16 W. Guilfoyle to Trenchard Reports on the activities of the press and seeks some outcome in the interests of discipline.
1923 Jan 1 Report, School of Photography to HQ No 7 Group 'This airman has made considerable progress during the past month and it is considered that by approximately 15 February his knowledge will be sufficient to enable him to pass the examination for the purpose of remustering as a Photographer.'
1923 Feb 23 Samuel Hoare to Sir H. Trenchard Has spoken to Amery who is willing to offer Lawrence a job. Hoare told Amery to hold, because Trenchard was going to propose something. 
1925: Lawrence's transfer from the Tank Corps to the RAF
1925 Jul 16 Approval for Lawrence's transfer signed by Trenchard.
Trenchard met the Adjutant General to agree on this transfer on 16 July 1925. Lawrence was then instructed to apply for the transfer through his CO at Bovington Camp. 
1928-9: RAF Press Section 
Minutes (1928-9) and cuttings relating to coverage of Lawrence in the press. A minute dated 23/7/28 comments on an article submitted to the NY World, containing [amazing] allegations about Lawrence's secret activities on the NW frontier. A typescript of the article is present..
1929: Lawrence's return from India and posting to R.A.F. Cattewater
1929 Jan 9 Telegram from Sir G Salmond to Trenchard Lawrence arrived by air at Lahore yesterday, 8 Jan, and proceeded by air to Karachi where he should arrive today. At Lahore he was met by a senior officer who explained the situation. Lawrence opted to return to England and arrangements are being made accordingly.
1929 Jan 12 Telegram from Sir G. Salmond to Trenchard Stating that Lawrence leaves Bombay that day on board SS Rajputana.
1929 Jan 14 Telegram from Trenchard to Sir G. Salmond  Asking for details of Lawrence's travel.
1929 Jan 16 Minute by Trenchard Concerning arrangements for Lawrence's return.
1929 Jan 17 Telegram from Sir G. Salmond to Trenchard Lawrence has instructions to proceed to Tilbury; suggests that any instructions to the contrary be sent to Port Said, where SS Rajputana will pass on 20 Jan.
1929 Jan 17 Telegram from Trenchard to AVM Webb Bowen Asking him if possible to convey a message to Lawrence on board Rajputana concerning plans to disembark at Plymouth in order to avoid publicity.
1929 Jan 22 telegram from Webb Bowen to Trenchard The message above given to Lawrence when Rajputana arrived at Suez.
1929 Jan 24 Minute by Borton Noting arangements made at a meeting that day between Trenchard, himself and W/C Sydney Smith. 
1932: Aftermath of articles in the Sunday Chronicle and News Chronicle
1932 Sep 1-13: Letters and documents.  Following articles about Lawrence's work on RAF boats, he was ordered away from the British Power Boat Company's yard in Hythe and returned to routine duties at Plymouth. In this group of papers the Air Ministry points out that, contrary to orders, it had not been consulted about his temporary posting to Hythe. In future all postings, permanent or temporary, would have to be approved by the Air Ministry. 
1933: Lawrence's application for discharge, and subsequent posting to M.A.E.E.
Papers connected with Lawrence's application for discharge
1933 Mar 6 Lawrence's approved application for an interview with his CO To request him to forward an application for discharge with effect from 6 April.
1933 Mar 9 covering note Forwarding the above application to HQ Coastal Area.
1933 Mar 13 covering note Submitting the above application to the Secretary at the Air Ministry.
1933 Mar 28 letter from J.O. Andrews, RAF Mount Batten, to Sir Edward Ellington Confirming comments made by telephone to the effect that Lawrence wished to be discharged unless he could be employed in some way other than routine station duties.
See also Minute sheets. 
Papers connected with Lawrence's posting to M.A.E.E. Felixstowe:
1933 Apr 21 C.H.K. Edmonds to AVM R.H.Clark-Hall
1933 Apr 26 Minute by W.E.G. Beauforte-Greenwood
1933 Apr 28 J.W. Cordingley to C.H.K.Edmonds
1933 Jun 1 C.H.K.Edmonds to AOC HQ RAF, Coastal Area.
See also Minute sheets.
Confirming the decision to send Lawrence to Felixstowe and setting out the conditions for his service there, and his duties.
1934: Interview with Lawrence in the News Chronicle by J.M. Pughe, 
Presscutting of the interview 'Lawrence of Arabia Talks (Exclusive)',11 May 1934
Associated correspondence and minutes.
A special correspondent of the News Chronicle approached Lawrence with a request for an article about the situation in the Yemen. Lawrence refused, but the correspondent felt entitled to write an unauthorised  'sketch' of Lawrence on the strength of their conversation. This contravened RAF regulations.
1935: RAF form 524 [service record]
Duplicate dated 30/6/39 Lists, among other things, Good Conduct badges:
1st. 12/3/26
2nd. 12/3/31
Lawrence's character is assessed at the end of each year as V.G. [very good] and his Proficiency as 'Ex' [excellent].


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