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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to his family


Akaba

19.10.17

Apparently you have begun getting letters from me. I got one yesterday from Arnie suggesting certain things. I'm afraid it is looking too far ahead, but should there be opportunity I would much like the arrangement. It will be quite easy to get the necessary approval if the time comes. A. would come to Cairo in that case, work with the Arab Bureau till au fait with the situation, and then take a field job. The Hejaz is nearly closed down, but S. and E. Syria is much in evidence. A. should learn Syrian Arabic, or better still N. Mesopotamian. If from books it will have to be Syrian, as there are no others (except Egyptian, which is bad). If he can get hold of any Arabs, let him pick village or tribal Arabic, not town. He should learn demolition work (explosives) practically, as the theory is very theoretic and does not always justify itself. However the effects of blasting gelatine and guncotton on stone and steel are worth working out, on paper as well as in the open. It is very easy. Fuse and electric firing. He should also learn machine gun work, Vickers, Lewis, and Hotchkiss, and if he has time get a working acquaintance with light Trench mortars, and guns. Of the latter we use field and mountain, and some fancy patterns. It is not worth while his trying to become a gunner, but if he spends a few days with a gunner, or near a battery, it will pay him to pick up how to set a fuse and train a gun. He should be able to ride a motor-cycle and drive a car:- we use Fords, Crossleys, and Rolls-Royces. If he can do some of the above, can write fluently in English, talk a little French, and shoot with revolver and rifle that will be useful enough. Bomb-throwing is a very handy thing. If he makes even a beginning in Arabic it is good. I don't suppose he can get very far, but the further the better.

All books on Arabia and Syria are worth reading - especially Baedeker. What a catalogue of talents! I wish I had them. All very well here. Saw Mr. Hogarth two days ago - not here!

N.

Source: HL 341-2
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 9 January 2006


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