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Jeremy Wilson


Page updated June 2012

Royal Air Force file AIR 1/2702
Lt-Col T.E. Lawrence - question of retention of rank

Note: In addition to the content specifically noted below, this file also contains a document relating to forwarding a letter to Lawrence.

National Archives (Public Record Office), London

1929 Mar 8 to 22 Minutes The Labour Party MP Ernest Thurtle had put down a Parliamentary question concerning Lawrence's military rank (as an ex-Lieutenant-Colonel) in view of the fact that he was now serving in the ranks as an Aircraftman. On 30 January 1929 Sir Samuel Hoare had answered the question, and the War Office was now raising matters arising with the Air Ministry. These minutes, which include one by the Chief of Air Staff, deal with the formulation of the Air Ministry's response.  
1929 Mar 6 A.E. Widdows (War Office) to the Secretary of the Air Ministry. States that it is usual "to withdraw the rank previously granted in the cases of ex-officers enlisting in the Army, during the period covered by such enlistment, and to restore it on completion of service in the ranks."
No action had been taken so far in Lawrence's case because, it was claimed, Sir Samuel's statement in the House "was the first official intimation that Lieutenant-Colonel Lawrence had enlisted". Invites views of the Air Council about the procedure to be adopted.
1929 Mar 26 J.A. Webster (Air Ministry) to the War Office Replies to the above. Points out that Hoare's statement was not "the first official intimation to the Army Council of this officer's enlistment in the Royal Air Force since [at the time of TEL's transfer in 1925] correspondence passed between the Adjutant General and the Chief of Air Staff in which the true circumstances of the case were revealed."
Points out that Lawrence has changed his name to Shaw and makes no use of the name Lawrence nor of his commissioned rank. He is not responsible for what journalists write. "The Air Council consider that the withdrawal of his commissioned rank at this date would only make for greater publicity and press comment and they trust that the Army Council will agree to take no further action in the matter." 


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