Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to E. Palmer
How difficult writing is. I have been facing the need of it for some days.
Haven't written to E.M.F. either. He asked for as long notice as you could give him of your visit to London. Tell me too: so if there is a chance…
Seen Dick twice. There is a great gap between the Boys' Camp and ours (a metaphorical gap). Hard to cross.
The kitchen table I bought from Knowles last year.
I have some books to go to you: to-night's parcel will only be a beret, conveying the remains of my Tank Corps period: also 3 keys.
(i) Skeleton, presumably for Jeffrey. Anyone you please.
(ii) Clouds Hill... for the babes in it.
(iii) Kit bag: for the brown locked bag in the bathroom. Will you dig out of this my black helmet (motorcycling). There is a brown one: but I want the black one with a fur edging to the forehead.
I also want the black toe-capped leggings, which I left in the bath room. A nearly new pair, like those I used to wear.
I also want a pair of army boots, 5.6 which I remember flinging at you as I left.
I also want (from the canteen) a housewife: long pattern, stamped 338171. Can you arrange this?'
Does Willis wear sixes in boots? I want someone with feet that size to break in a pair of boots for me, till the soles are nearly done: and then to have them soled with rubber by Tangay. This is a reasonable trouble for you: but time does not press me: so wait till the staff is working in full strength again and then think of it.
The cadets are back now, and term has started. This has increased our work to a respectable point. Our six machines have been out all the morning. I have been, in a sense, lucky. The flight's clerk (an aircraft hand, unskilled, like me) has just been posted. So I am book-keeper, and runner for our little group: a 'Willis', so to speak.
We are 'B' flight. A sergt: a corporal, and fifteen men. Of them five are fitters, five are riggers, five are A.C.H's. We have a hangar of our own: and six machines. To these are four officers, who teach the actual flying to the fifteen cadets who are 'on' Bristols and D.H.9 A's this term.
There are no bugles in camp, and no reveille. I get up at 6.40, go over to a near hut for a hot bath and shave (hot water out of action in our lines, till November): breakfast 7.30 to 8. You walk in at your own time. 8.10 a parade, colour-hoisting. All of us together on the square while the cadets (with rifles) present arms. This takes 20 minutes. 8.30 down to the hangar: till 12.30, when we return to the hut. Dinner 12.45. Work again at 2. P.M. till 4.15 or 4.30. Canteen practically no food. No shops within 1½ miles. So we all go to meals, which are much like Bovington, but more systematic, and so quiet. I find them good enough.
On Sat. and Sunday lights out 11 P.M. Alternate week-end passes. A.D. Sat. -M.N. Sunday. No duty-hour passes. Church Parade every Sunday in camp. I went yesterday. Belt and bayonet. Skin inspection weekly, in the hut at 1.15 p.m. Breeches and puttees only for police-duty (once in three months, 24-hour) and church, or Jankers. Great plenty of these last. The Squadron Leader is hot on punishment.
Equipment inspected once a month in the hut, and once a month on parade (full pack). ½ hours drill every Saturday. Monthly kit inspection.
I miss very much
(a) The quietude of the office for working in
(c) Colour. Lincolnshire is only green.
and I wish there was someone like yourself in camp. The fellows in my hut are all right: but none of them tuned exactly to my pitch.
Yet, it's the R.A.F. and the fact fills me with a perverse, brittle, and nevertheless complete satisfaction. Odd that a man should be so ungrateful, for the R.T.C. was very good to me, and I've jilted her without a regret.
I'm due for a week-end this week. If it is very fine I shall try and reach Bovington. Sleep in Coy stores or some hut: but don't put yourself about, expecting me, for I'm a doubtful starter.
Many thanks for letters and parcels. I hope they are not troubling you. Remember always there is no urgency therewith.
|Last revised:||12 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