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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to [Sir Hugh Trenchard]


Wool
28.3.23

Dear [name omitted],

Sorry, your letter was too late. I've been here nearly three weeks, and am (as a recruit) too completely possessed by the authorities to get leave or anything. It's like and unlike Uxbridge - a camp on a great heath, little less beautiful than the park round Hillingdon House, but unlike it in that the country round is nearly desert. We can't run up to London every evening - nor can we spend much money.

It's run like Uxbridge, but in small squads, of twenty each. The training period is eighteen weeks, half as long again as yours. It is less urgent too: the standard not less, but the approach to it gentle: nor is there the same tightness of control over our walking about, nor as many penalties or threats as in your place.

You will be glad to hear that the camp is more lavishly run than yours. Fuel, food, bedding etc. all plentiful. Also baths and libraries.

The education section is crudely run by N.C.Os, who at Uxbridge would be taught themselves: but then that's accounted for by the very different class of fellows.

It's astonishing that. The fellows at Uxbridge had joined the R.A.F. as a profession - or to continue in it at their trades. They talked of futures and jobs all day, and were excited about life. These fellows have joined up as a last resort, because they had failed, or were not qualified, for anything else, and they take no interest in the Army, and hope no more from it than food, and not too much work, and pocket money. There is no wish, as there was at Uxbridge, to do better than the standard required.

There is one improvement I see. At Uxbridge when I joined I went straight to fatigues, for five weeks (an average experience): and they were real fatigues, all day, and often till 8 P.M. and heavy work too. Here there is practically nothing of that. The duty men, not the recruits, do the fatigues, and the camp is so arranged, with civilian contracts, that the balance of military work is very light. I do not think the average here is more than half the working standard of Uxbridge.

The officers too are different. They speak and act with complete assurance, believing themselves better than ourselves:- and they are: whereas in the R.A.F. I had an uncomfortable feeling that we were better than the officers: and this feeling was strengthened, if not founded on the fact that the officers were treated by the men, off parade, as rather humorous things to have to show respect to. The officers played up to this impression by avoiding all contact with us.

The Army has the better of you, in this only.

Yours sincerely

T E Lawrence.

Source: DG 404-6
Checked: mv/
Last revised: 19 February 2006


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