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T. E. Lawrence to Ernest Thurtle

Mount Batten


Dear E.T.

Yes, I know Church End, having had friends in Windsor Road which is not far from you. It is quieter than the main Golders' Green part and has some views and greenery within reach: not that you will have time to see them!

Yesterday you were in the headlines as a Junior Lord. Odd, isn't
it, how things happen unbeknownst? Ten years ago Lords, senior and junior, were out of your reach and wish; now you take it as a commonplace. I hope it means that you are marked for office upon the next re-shuffle. Shuffle it generally is, by the way. I suggest your specialising upon a fighting service, preferably Air. There are fundamental changes in the status of 'other ranks' due and over-due. One resents the private opinion of the services being twenty years behind public opinion in all matters of common decency. An untramelled-by-social-prejudice-S. of S. could work a little revolution, for great good, in two years.

[2 lines omitted] In the R.A.F. there exists a jealous and ineradicable feeling against lighter-than-airships. We are so pinned to aircraft that we cannot hear a good word of gas-bags. Nor was R.101 a particularly good gas-bag. Yet her crash was an error of navigational control, I fear, and no direct fault of the ship. That re-filling the water ballast before Beauvais, coupled with a failure to allow for the weather influence upon the altimeters, killed her and the poor crew. It was not Lord T's fault; yet he was a bad Air Minister. We all liked Montague so much better.

I get no news of Afghanistan, so the last sentences of your letter remain obscure. But I would have you too contemptuous of the foreign policy of the Government of India to credit it with being either good or bad. It will be just fatuous. I do not think that Amanullah was in the least degree Russia-inclined, anyhow.

I continue in Plymouth, moderately quiet and immediately happy. If ever you see the artful Maxton, please give him my regards: and we will meet some day, either in Finchley or in London. Not in winter, though!


T.E. Shaw

Source: DG 704-5
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 31 January 2006

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