Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to Air Vice-Marshal Sir Oliver Swann
B3 Block S.o.P. R.A.F.
I wrote to you to the Air Ministry ten days ago: and have heard nothing, so perhaps you never got it. Anyway I'll repeat it in this to your house.
My coming here was on Tuesday, and the November class of photography began the day before. The C.O. has put me back therefore until the next class, which is said to begin on January 6.
This irks me a little, because it is a nine months' course anyhow, and it seems a pity to make it eleven. I'd have no difficulty in joining even a class earlier than the November one, for except in enlarging and mosaic work, (learned in two of the later months) I'm already as good as the men passing out. My father, one of the pioneer photographers, taught me before I was four years old, and I've done the photographic work of several British Museum Expeditions, and exhibited a good deal at the Camera Club, regularly.
I asked, accordingly, if you could put me straight into the School, for my technical training. Except for that, Farnborough doesn't offer me much scope. The camp isn't quite the sort of R.A.F. I want to write about! At the same time the technical work is A.1. and I'd like to watch the growth of a class. It was the coming-into-being of the squad which was so exciting at Uxbridge.
I'm exceedingly glad to have got away from Uxbridge. The physical side of that was knocking me up, and this place is a jolly rest cure by comparison. I'm reading German and Spanish to keep myself busy: for my nature doesn't second the demands of discipline very well, and unless I keep working at something I get Bolshie!
It's possible you have had my letter, and can't do anything. In that case would it help if I re-mustered as an aircraft hand? Could you then post me off to an active squadron, home or abroad? You will realise that I have the softest of fatigue-jobs here (in the orderly room): but want to escape the scrappiness of a training camp (which is an abnormal unit, and cannot have a character outside its classes) for the more normal show.
I'd prefer to go to the School: but failing that would remuster if you could then shift me. Apologies if this letter reopens a subject you have closed. I only write because possibly you haven't had my other letter. I don't want to bother you by urging what I have no right to ask.
T E L
|Last revised:||18 February 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