TRENCHARD, Sir Hugh (1887-1956). Sixteen typed letters signed ("H. Trenchard" or "Trenchard"), to T.E. Lawrence, 3 July 1922 to 14 February 1934. Together 30 pages, various 4to and 8vo sizes, Air Ministry and personal stationery.
"I DO NOT WANT TO USE THE AIR FORCE FOR KILLING ONLY: THE FACT OF AN AIR FORCE BEING ABOUT SHOULD IN TIME ENSURE THAT WE MAY NOT CONTINUALLY GO ON THE WARPATH WITH AS MANY CASUALTIES AS WE DID IN THE PAST."
HUGH TRENCHARD ON LAWRENCE AND BOMBINGS IN IRAQ. The "founding father" of the RAF, Trenchard, was Chief of the Air Staff from 1919 to 1929, and clearly of two minds about having the famous Lawrence serving under his command. Thanking him for an inscribed copy of Seven Pillars in 1926, Trenchard writes: "the part I like almost best is the expression 'from a contented admirer and, whenever possible, obedient servant.' This is a delightful touch from the most disobedient mortal I have ever met." Several letters express Trenchard's misgivings over Lawrence's later book about the RAF, The Mint (see lot 141), which he twice mistakenly calls "The Unit." Once the press got hold of the book, Trenchard predicts on 10 April 1928, "they would say what a hopeless Air Force it was--how badly it was run--what hopeless officers we had, etc., when I know that is not what you mean at all, though I have not seen what you have written." By 5 July 1928, he had finished reading the book: "I sometime think people do not realise that I do not want to use the Air Force for killing only: the fact of an air force being about should in time ensure that we may not continually go on the warpath with as many casualties as we did in the past."
Trenchard had used air bombardment in colonial conflicts in Somaliland and Iraq. He even suggested to Winston Churchill that RAF could be used to put down "industrial disturbances or risings," a draconian proposal that Churchill implored Trenchard not to repeat in public. On 10 April 1928, Trenchard expatiates on British troubles in Iraq "and the quarrel between Ibn Saud and Feisal [which] worries me a lot. I do not want to kill either side, and I am not doing much in it, but people who live by raiding almost all their lives do not understand our feelings on the subject, and they dislike it when we try to stop them and think our methods are more brutal than theirs....However, I hope for the best through patience and the Air, if I can only get the Ibn Saud fanatics to believe in it and to go up in it. If I can bring this about, I feel I may yet make peace between Ibn Saud and Feisal. Perhaps you will say this is impossible. Could you do it?"
Trenchard speaks frankly about his fatigue, and tells Lawrence that he will step down at the end of 1929. "I am rather tired and weary," he says on 10 April 1928, "& have been over 10 years now at this." Critics were complaining over "how badly I had made the RAF," and if they were right, "then I have failed, but I am beginning to think that it was beyond my powers to do what I tried."
Thirteen of the letters are published in Letters to T.E. Lawrence. (16)