LAWRENCE, T.E. Autograph letter signed ("T.E. Lawrence") to General Gilbert F. Clayton, [Akaba], 24 October 1917. 4 pages, 8vo, filing holes affecting a few letters, a few minor rust stains, some marginal marks in green pencil.
A FRUSTRATED LAWRENCE WRITES CLAYTON FOR BACK-UP SUPPLIES BEFORE SETTING OUT ON THE YARMUK EXPEDITION
An important letter written to Clayton from Akaba on the day Lawrence set out on the Yarmuk expedition. "Shortly before he was due to leave, the plans were radically changed when the Emir Abd el Kader arrived in Akaba offering the support of his followers. Abd el Kader was an Algerian who controlled a number of villages on the north side ofthe Yarmuk valley, peopled by Algerian exiles. With their support, a small raiding party could in effect control the central section of the Yarmuk line" (Wilson, p. 452).
..."A hurried note because I leave today at 2 P.M. and everything is still undone. About Arab Legion. Feisal will believe himself let down if they do not come by Hardinge. Their training is not so important as the prevention of this. Also the cholera trouble is a new reason for putting with Akaba at once as many reinforcements as you can. The same applies to the armoured cars. Even if everything is unfinished about them, something should come down in the Hardinge; They will be a great comfort here..."
Lawrence complains of lack of raid supplies: "I asked for nine exploders. Only four have been sent, and I have had to rearrange plans somewhat. If others are available, they would be very useful. Also about the cable. I received at first 400 yards thick single cable (doubled this makes 200 yards of line) and after using it wired for 1000 yards light twin cable. You sent 500 yards of the old thick single in reply...Then about Indian mountain guns. The two for Nuri were never sent. Please send four now, for Feisal. We can use them on Beduin [rai?]ds, and so keep our remaining E.A. Q.F. guns for the regulars. I hope they may be put on the Hardinge."
Discussing financial matters he continues: "The remainder of the special grant will no doubt have been sent off before this letter comes. Nasir & Zeid (when he gets to Akaba--Colonel Wilson's misreading a telegram from Cairo thought Akaba was blockaded & no one might land!) will bring it North with them on the 31st..."
"I am taking Lieut. Wood, R.E. [an explosives specialist] with me up country. It makes for insurance [in] case of accident on the job. It's not my job--but I hope that Basset's appointment in Jedda is only temporary. G.L. [George Ambrose Lloyd] will be back soon, & will give you all news we have."
The original plans for the expedition were thwarted when Adb el Kader changed sides and joined the Turks, putting the expedition in jeopardy. Lawrence narrowly escaped with his life, following a skirmish with Turks whose trains Lawrence had derailed. "For Lawrence, the Yarmuk failure was a bitter disappointment. In July, he had offered Allenby a general rising to help the EEF advance. In October, fearful that the British would fail, he had decided to hold back, substituting the more limited bridge-blowing operation. In the event, he had been able to achieve almost nothing. The Turkish line of communication between Damascus and Palestine remained intact" (Wilson, p. 457). A note at the top of the letter (presumably by a member of Clayton's staff) reads: "'The Hardinge' is supposed to be going on Nov. 3rd according to latest information. E. Cadogan."