Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to Ernest Thurtle
I have not been very good lately, perhaps. When your letter came I said Nunc dimittis... and the servant through whose faithfulness this great work had come about didn't seem to matter. He had done his duty: that was all.
Then the Lords gave me a fright. Lord Allenby too, whom I like and admire. Surely if I had been in London, able to see him he would at least have kept silence -if not supported you.
Yet... doesn't it make you surer you were right, to see all the General Staff opposing you?
In the end you downed the Lords, as you had downed the Government. I feel it is a blessed victory. The old state of law hurt me. It was such a damnable judgement upon our own flesh and blood.
There are 1000 other Service reforms which should be carried through, to make them abreast - in morality and decency - of normal public life and opinion. Perhaps you may do more, in your time: but this effort will have made you very marked, for the moment. Perhaps you should break out in a new path for the next few months, to re-habilitate yourself.
I haven't really said thank you for all you did: because I feel that it was only your duty really. People who care anything at all about their countries don't like to see them fouling themselves.
Curse the Brass Hats: poor reptiles. They always swear that these things are necessary to discipline. A word in your ear - discipline itself is not necessary. We fight better without it. Yet being Englishmen we are born with it, and can no more lose it than our finger nails.
Go on pulling the right strings. It gave me, after yourself, perhaps the next purest joy in England.
T E Shaw
|Last revised:||2 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