Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to his family
Well, this has been a long interruption of writing. I went off to Jidda, after the last letter, as soon as I had been to Alexandria (to see the High Commissioner) and to Palestine, to see General Allenby. At Jidda I had to stay several days, before I could get a boat back to Suez. It was an unprofitable journey, and I was not able to get anything done of my hopes. There were a great many local things however, which I saw, and which rather changed the outlook.
Then from Jidda we dashed up to Wejh, and thence to Suez: a bad trip, in a small boat, against a strong head wind. Took us 5 days. From Suez I came here for a night, then Alexandria, then Palestine, and have now come to anchor here for perhaps a week. It is very nice to have finished one part of the show. We begin something fresh next month, and the change will be a pleasant one.
Having said that much, that is all, I think, that I have got to say. You know I have nothing doing or to do which does not actually concern Feisul's campaign, and that I make a rule to write nothing about. I cannot talk about books because I don't read any, or about people, because I only meet the Staff who deal with our operations, or places, because most of them are not to be made public property. So there you are.
As I'm in the middle of the show, I have to be more careful than anybody else. Mr. Hogarth is coming back to England about the middle of August, and hopes to see you and explain something of how we get on. The communiqués in the press contain the least part of the truth. The two Sherifs down by Medina, Abdulla and Ali, allow their fancy very free play with their achievements, and keep on reporting that they have broken thousands of rails and bridges. The bridges are tiny culverts, and the breaks in the rails only shorten them a few inches. Besides they break usually only 10% of their published figures. The communiqués of Feisul’s army are written by ourselves, or at least checked by us, and are more truthful.
One thing they have not brought out, I fancy, and which I can tell you, is that from Maan southward for 100 kilometres there are no Turks, and the 8 stations and all the rails and bridges have been smashed to atoms by us. This makes a break that I am sure they will not be able to repair so long as the war lasts, and thanks to it the very large body of troops from there to Medina are cut off from Turkey, as much as the little garrisons of Turks in South Arabia. Medina is a holy city, and the Arabs do not attack it: it has huge gardens and palm groves, and is quite self-supporting so far as food goes, so there is no definite reason why the troops there should ever surrender. We are not in any hurry about it, anyway, though the capture of the place might be a political gain to the Sherif.
There, I think that is enough talk. If I could think of anything more to say I would prolong it. The W.O. reply to our application for Arnie should arrive any day, and when it comes I will write again. We left it purposely till the vac.
|Last revised:||13 January 2006|
T. E. Lawrence chronology
1888 16 August: born at Tremadoc, Wales
1896-1907: City of Oxford High School for Boys
1907-9: Jesus College, Oxford, B.A., 1st Class Hons, 1909
1910-14: Magdalen College, Oxford (Senior Demy), while working at the British Museum's excavations at Carchemish
1915-16: Military Intelligence Dept, Cairo
1916-18: Liaison Officer with the Arab Revolt
1919: Attended the Paris Peace Conference
1919-22: wrote Seven Pillars of Wisdom
1921-2: Adviser on Arab Affairs to Winston Churchill at the Colonial Office
1922 August: Enlisted in the Ranks of the RAF
1923 January: discharged from the RAF
1923 March: enlisted in the Tank Corps
1923: translated a French novel, The Forest Giant
1924-6: prepared the subscribers' abridgement of Seven Pillars of Wisdom
1927-8: stationed at Karachi, then Miranshah
1927 March: Revolt in the Desert, an abridgement of Seven Pillars, published
1928: completed The Mint, began translating Homer's Odyssey
1929-33: stationed at Plymouth
1931: started working on RAF boats
1932: his translation of the Odyssey published
1933-5: attached to MAEE, Felixstowe
1935 February: retired from the RAF
1935 19 May: died from injuries received in a motor-cycle crash on 13 May
1935 21 May: buried at Moreton, Dorset