T. E. Lawrence to H.S. Ede
Well, I've moved from Karachi, and come to the most remote R.A.F. station in India:- and the smallest. We are only 26, all told, with 5 officers, and we sit with 700 India Scouts (half regulars) in a brick and earth fort behind barbed wire complete with searchlights and machine guns. Round us, a few miles off, in a ring are low bare porcelain-coloured hills, with chipped edges and a broken bottle skyline. Afghanistan is 10 miles off. The quietness of the place is uncanny - ominous, I was nearly saying: for the Scouts and ourselves live in different compartments of the fort, and never meet: and so there's no noise of men: and no birds or beasts - except a jackal concert for five minutes about 10 p.m. each night, when the searchlights start. The India sentries flicker the beams across the plain, hoping to make them flash in the animals' eyes. So sometimes we see them.
We are not allowed beyond the barbed wire, by day, or outside the fort walls by night. So the only temptations of Miranshah are boredom and idleness. I hope to escape the first and enjoy the second: for, between ourselves, I did a lot of work at Karachi and am dead tired.
Here they employ me mainly in the office. I am the only airman who can work a typewriter, so I do D.R.Os. and correspondence: and act postman, and pay-clerk, and bottle washer in ordinary. Normally flights do two months here, and get relieved: but I will try and get left on. It's the station of a dream: as though one had fallen right over the world, and had lost one's memory of its troubles. And the quietness is so intense that I rub my ears, wondering if I am going deaf.
meanwhile, broadcast, and lunch with Margot and 'see life'. Well, in
good time. If 1930 is kind to me, it will bring me back within holiday
distance of London, and by coming to see you I'll
shatter the too-favourable image of myself which your imagination has created. Graves is really too good to me too: makes me out a wonderful chap: and the fellows in camp sit on their beds, round mine, and read tit-bits of their books at me, and say 'Now, who'd have thought that, if he'd known you?' They regard my legend as a huge joke: if it wasn't my legend, I'd do ditto.
Miss Fry I do not remember. More people, however, know me than I know.
America? I will not go there: but they are doing a vast lot of interesting writing there, prose and poetry. Try and see Kreymborg, and Cummings, and Vachel Lindsay and Sherwood Anderson. They must be interesting.
|Last revised:||17 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