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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to his family

Military Intelligence Office


I haven't anything to do:- or rather I have a lot which I am not
going to do:- so I'm going to write to you. It's very difficult to do that, for all one's work here is writing, and I have a nausea of it. There seems to be very little to write about. I go to the office every morning, run out to Giza to the Survey Department usually for an hour or so before midday, and go back to the office again after lunch till about 6p.m. I knock off then, because it is almost dark, and I want to ride home without lighting up. There is usually a little to do there before dinner, and after dinner telegrams in cypher come in from Medforce or Athens, or Russia or London or India at any hour of the night. Then at 6 a.m. the messenger from Alexandria turns up, with papers from the Residency:- and that is the next day's work, which is exactly like to-day's. The work consists in finding out where the Turkish army is:- that is, to know at any moment where each of the 136 regiments is: how many men are in each, who commands it, and what artillery is round about it. Then we have to tell anybody who wants to know what any place in Turkey is like: what the landing places are, what the roads are like, if the people are friendly or not, and how long it would take to get reinforcements there. Then we have to try and find out what is happening politically in the interior of the country, and how the harvests are and who are the local governors, and things like that. There are other things also. At present I'm making a directory (a sort of [one word illegible]) of the tribes of N. Arabia: and publish a little daily paper for the knowledge of Generals, India, Medforce, Aden and the Home Department, in which we tell them what we think they ought to know. Sometimes they don't agree with us. In addition I have maps to settle: not the actual drawing, of course, but the style of it, the colours to be used, and what is to be put in or left out. That is the most interesting part of the work, though I am very fond of my army. Following it about is like making a map of the movements of a fly before breakfast. All our work is to do with Turkey. We never touch any other part of the world: and Egypt never comes into our horizon at all [5 words omitted] which is as well... That's all, for I'm going down to headquarters to see Colonel Parker.


Source: HL 308-9
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 1 January 2006

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