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Updated July 2012

T. E. Lawrence to Paymaster-Captain Archibald Cooper

13 Birmingham St.


Dear Captain Cooper

I had intended to ring you up from the Dockyard to say 'Thank you' for the Aquarius before I left - but I went off at 7.30 a.m.; so it seemed too unkind. Then I travelled for three days, and over the weekend I could not find a Navy List to get your proper style. So many explanations....

I should apologise for having rung up the Office. If everybody who felt urgent about his ship did so, your life would become miserable. But we were a very small ship, easily overlooked, and (if delayed) very unfit to face the monsoon: so as soon as the pilot told us that there were no orders, I dashed to Mount Batten, to ask the Admiral for help.

You will be amused to hear that no less a personage than the chief pilot came aboard the Aquarius a minute after I got back to her, after taking your message. His previous job had been to take the Rodney up. We boasted 270 tons - reduced to 112 by some chicane when Dock Dues are payable. However we got to our berth in a few minutes, and there was a Stores Officer to measure us for a new tarpaulin (it came next day - excellent) another to ask about oil and water, and three fitting experts to examine the steering. They plugged in electric light, carried up a brow - did everything they could. The steering proved to be a trifle - just a jam in a chain conduit-cover - not worth alarming you about: but thanks to the despatch of all the other jobs the ship got away to time, and has reached Gibraltar - where she wants to mend some sort of a valve, but has no one aboard now to get her priority treatment.

So thank you very much... and if you had to involve greater noises in the effort, please thank them for me, too. We saw the C. in C. landing at Mount Edgcumbe as we came in, so I expect he was not a party. I shall try not to trespass on your kindness again - unless it happens again! It was wholly worth it.

Yours sincerely

T E Shaw

If the Admiral did hear of it, will you please offer my apologies, and say that I was filthy and labouring, all that day, and disappeared early the next? I could not have paid my respects without neglecting my duty.

Please say also that we are building better and better boats (and the C. in C. Portsmouth has wangled one for six months out of the Air Ministry, for himself). Better put the last sentence in very small print! But they are good boats.

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Source: DG 795-6
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 16 January 2006


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