Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence to Clare Sydney Smith
I am so sorry: your letter should have been answered yesterday: only we got up at 6 and worked till 10 p.m., W/Cmdr. de Courcy and Mr. Beauforte-Greenwood being here, and wishing to take out A/Cmdr. Bigsworth and G/Capt. Nanson. Then to-day we had A. V. M. Lambe, and W/Comdr. Huskinson and three others unknown to me. The boat has been suffering from one engine trouble after another for the past fortnight, and everybody (there are the maker's people here, besides Mr. Scott Paine’s fitters) at their wits' end to keep her going or make her right.
I shall be relieved and thankful to get back to Mount Batten. This job has been beyond a joke lately. Only to-day we have found and cured the main trouble, I fancy. For half an hour we had absolutely a perfect run. I'm writing in our dinner hour (we keep firm's times) and this afternoon we go out to see if the cure remains permanent. Nothing radically wrong with the engines you understand: but minor defects that have to be put right as they occur.
As for coming back, I'm not a free agent there. I think that Mr. Greenwood wrote to the W/Cmdr. about it - at least he told me that he had leave to keep us here (don't forget that Mrs. Bradley is a grass widow all this while and Corpl. Bradley a grass bachelor) and I cannot ask to be relieved from an unfinished job. If they decide that we cannot do it, then that's all well : but so long as they tell us to go on, we must try and find out means to get round the snags. It is not only the cruiser, you know : there are 12 new-type dinghies on our hands for test and timing. We had improved them quite a lot!
Poor Biscuit! They are making a silencer for her here, and meanwhile I look at her exhaust pipe sadly; but not too sadly, for to confess the truth I have had almost all the speed-boating the most confirmed water-rat could want. Something quiet would be my choice now; a country walk perhaps, and some flowers to pick. I am sick of salt water, and the burn of spray. Meanwhile no Homer - not one line of it for a month: and Augustus John only 15 miles off wanting me to sit for him, and I have no time.
Disastrous work, this specialization on R.A.F. motor-boat design. I shall take up crochet, I think.
Please tell the W/Cmdr. that I cannot ask to be relieved of this job, or wish to be relieved of it, till it goes right: and that may not be for a week yet. The works are to run through the holidays, and we will keep at it as hard as we can. I am sorry for leaving him in the lurch, this way.
Give poor Leo a marshmallow for me. There is an S.5 roaring up and down the water now. Sunlight and sharp S.E. wind. Flying weather.
|Last revised:||2 July 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