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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence, report of Trans-Jordan

[Extract: opening paragraphs only]


24/10/21

I went over to Amman on October 12th to enquire into the present position there.

(i) BRITISH UNITS

The Armoured Cars were not fit for use. We obtained them with some difficulty from the War Office, in the expectation that they would assist in maintaining order in Trans-Jordania. They had not been out of Camp for weeks before my arrival. The cars were in fair mechanical condition. They had no covers or tubes, no mechanical spares, no lamps or batteries, no jacks or pumps, no petrol. For the two cars there were two drivers and two gunners - not enough to man the cars or fight the guns, though in this case it was no matter since there were no gun belts, no ammunition, no gun spares. Of the two drivers, one was a 'second driver', intended to take over in an emergency. How good he is I do not know. The first driver, who is supposed to be qualified, can drive the car forward but is not good at reversing. He is practising this on the path between the tents. I think the Air Ministry should be informed of the condition of the section before they are called upon to pay the War Office for its maintenance charges.

Group Captain Gordon arrived to take over the command of the Royal Air Force and attached cars a few days after my arrival. I believe he will make the units under his charge efficient in a few days time. We will then carry out a programme of operations.

(2) ARAB UNITS

The Reserve Force under Zaim Peake Bey now numbers 500 odd. The men are good, some of the Officers very good. The tone and condition of the Unit is very promising. I think internally it is as well as possible and it reflects great credit on Zaim Peake Bey that it is so.

Externally things are less satisfactory. At first people in Trans-Jordania said we were making an Army to smash them for our own purposes. Then as time went on they said we were purposely creating an inefficient force to give us an excuse for sending British troops across. The reason for this has been the delay in supplying equipment and materials. Uniforms, saddles, machine guns, rifles, have all been held up. Peake cannot show his men in public till they are reasonably smart and till they have rifles, for in Trans-Jordania every man of military age carries a rifle as a mark of self-respect, and Peake's, the so-called Military Force, is the only unarmed body of men in the country. When this is set right public suspicion will go to rest. [remainder of the report omitted]

Source: DG 224-5
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 26 January 2006


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