Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to A. P. Wavell
Many thanks for the book (which has gone forward to its next) and for your long letter. It's exactly the sort of thing which I wanted to read.
No, I don't feel confident militarily. All the while we fought I felt like a conjuror trying an insufficiently rehearsed trick - surprised when it came out right. A succession of such chances gave me the feeling I was apt at the business: that's all.
Chap. 35. The substance of this was boiled up for Guy Dawnay some years ago, when he started a thing called the Army Quarterly, and asked me for a contribution. You will find it in the 1st number of the Quarterly. He liked it better than I did. Most people found it either recondite, or too smart.
I met your cousin once, at a push in London: had no proper talk of him.
As for the reply to raiding tactics. As you say, it's greater mobility than the attack. This needn't mean large drafts from the harassed G.O.C. If the Turks had put machine guns on three or four of their touring cars, and driven them on weekly patrol over the admirable going of the desert E. of Amman and Maan they would have put an absolute stop to our camel-parties, and so to our rebellion. It wouldn't have cost them 20 men or £20,000... rightly applied. They scraped up cavalry and armoured trains and camel corps and block-houses against us: because they didn't think hard enough.
I held the Rolls-Royce Armoured Cars in Akaba as a riposte if (or when) Turk cars came at us: for I couldn't imagine our being left free all the time: but we had only 5 R.R. and would have been on the defensive with them, quite unable to guard our raiding front. They would have sufficed only to cover Aba-el Lissan-Tafileh, the Arab Regular-Army front.
Well-destruction was possible only at Bair and Jefer, as our other waters were superficial: and we could have dispensed with B. and J. So that the Turks couldn't stop us with demolitions.
There is one other thing of which every rebellion is mortally afraid - treachery. If instead of counter-propaganda (never effective on the conservative side) the money had been put into buying the few venial men always to be found in a big movement, then they would have crippled us. We could only dare these intricate raids because we felt sure and safe. One well-informed traitor will spoil a national rising.
Bombing tribes is ineffective. I fancy that air-power may be effective against elaborate armies: but against irregulars it has no more than moral value. The Turks had plenty [of] machines, and used them freely against us - and never hurt us till the last phase, when we had brought 1000 of our regulars on the raid against Deraa. Guerrilla tactics are a complete muffing of air-force.
Jurgen I've read. As you say V.G. Many thanks for offering me a
copy: but in this atmosphere one reads very little.
As for writing more - to tell you the truth I'm sick of all manner of effort, and want never to do anything again. I've put my mind to sleep, coming here.
Yes, I've promised not to admit the Mecca jest. I did it because I wanted to choose my own gold dagger, and it was not serious for me. Hussein will never forgive it me.
|Last revised:||28 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