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Correspondence with the map making division of the Arab Bureau.

LAWRENCE T.E. (1916.)


Available to view at our Curzon Street shop.

A small archive of correspondence, consisting of 20 documents, 12 being ALS from Lawrence, one manuscript sketch map in the hand of Lawrence, and one each from D.G. Hogarth, Ronald Storrs, Ernest Dowson, W.H. Crosthwaite and W.M. Logan, and two carbon copies. On the letterheads of the Military Intelligence Office, Cairo; General Staff - Intelligence Division; the Arab Bureau, Savoy Hotel. 11 September 1915 to 24 November

A small but important group of documents from the map-making division in Cairo, including twelve from Lawrence, whose first wartime employment was as a civilian mapmaker in the Geographical Section at the War Office in Cairo. This was the period when Lawrence first began to establish his reputation as an intensely able, yet unconventional, operator, who took some pleasure in antagonising authority. Ernest Dowson, in his excellent essay in T.E. Lawrence by his Friends gives a very good account of Lawrence’s time here, initially rubbing people up the wrong way: producing responses of “Whoever can this extraordinary little pipsqueak be?” and eliciting “wonder at who this young man was and of astonishment at his impudence”, and finally getting almost universal respect. 
This little group, which also includes letters from David Hogarth, Ronald Storrs and Ernest Dowson gives a unique insight into the inner workings of the intelligence community in Cairo, something of a focal point for the more cerebral top-brass of the second world war. The head of the map-making division was W.H. Crosthwaite, and much of the correspondence revolves around him. 

Material from this period is extremely rare. Of particular note is the manuscript schematic map by Lawrence. 

a. ALS from Crosthwaite to Logan. 11/9/15. A4 tracing paper. Concerning work on the Ladikya Sheet.
“I believe the hill sheet of this is complete as far as possible. If so I think the best plan is to dispatch to Mr. Lawrence to hand over to Binosi [engraver]. I will ask Mr. Lawrence to tell Binosi to come up & see you, if he has any doubts about procedure.”
Dowson reports that Logan was (understandably) “deeply affronted when he was first presented to Lawrence and told that the latter had been charged with general control of the mapwork required by G.H.Q. Logan resented having to take orders from such a boy, and felt that the War Office had acted in accordance with the ineptitude traditionally pertaining to it in burlesque in putting such a youngster in charge of anything” [T. E. Lawrence by His Friends p.137].

b. ALS from Logan to “R.C.” 12/9/15. Also concerning the Ladikya Sheet: “I understand Mr. Lawrence has changed his mind about Binosi doing it & thought he would rather have Canjiani [?] do it… although for my part I would rather have Canjiani free for other work.”

c. ALS signed in full from Lawrence to Crosthwaite. 12/9/15. Military Intelligence Office, War Office, Cairo official letterhead.
“That map of Sinai is good: but some of the names in the heart of the hills want cleaning. Can you do this? . . Then we want 20 copies to start.” Crosthwaite has appended the following, rather telling, note: “Mr. Logan, At leisure please.”
Dowson records that in Lawrence’s first meeting with Crosthwaite he proceeded to “criticise somewhat severely the system of transliteration of Arabic names into Roman characters that the Survey of Egypt adopted. As Crosthwaite had been closely concerned personally with the establishment of this system and had spent many months in studying the subject and in discussing it with recognised experts, his first impression of Lawrence was one of wonder as to who this young man was and of astonishment at his impudence” [Ibid p.137].

d. ALS from Crosthwaite to Logan. 12/9/15. A4 tracing paper. Continuing the war of opinion over exactly who should engrave the Ladikya Sheet: “As verbally arranged with Mr. Lawrence this morning, please make necessary corrections
& we will then have Binosi up here to make the hill plate . . Binosi’s time at present, is of no value. At the same time if he does make a success of it, it will be big enough saving of labour for Canjiani.”

e. ALS signed in full from Lawrence to Crosthwaite. 14/9/15. 4pp. written on two sides only. Passing on information gathered in the field: “Just under the Y of Ladikya in the title of Ladikya sheet within an inch of the top of the sheet is Kasr el Benat. S.W. of Kasr el Benat is El Kaytib a ruin: & just north of that a little blue stream, which runs downs [sic] towards Yeni Shehir. It is the nearest water to Kasr el Benat. The source of this water is called Aian Dilfa”. Will you add it to sheet, in blue. This time Crosthwaite appended: “Mr. Logan, For Action.”

f. Carbon copy unsigned of an extract from a letter written by Lawrence and subsequently sent to the “Director General” (ie Dowson). 22nd September, 1915. Foolscap. Concerning the Adana 1:250,000 sheet: “The Adana-Eregli Railway map is the original for Keipert and W.O. 1:250,000 and is good. On one copy the roads from Drak, Bedernadik etc. have been added – These are fit for wheels and metalled, when double lined. The Hills to be done as finely as possible (pen work suggested). Railway map to be used and Keipert when this does not exist . . The War Office black to be used where possible and not re-drawn. The War Office blue to be much bolder.”

g. ALS initialled from Lawrence to Crosthwaite. 29.10.15. “(or Friday)”. Military Intelligence Office, War Office, Cairo official letterhead.
“Enclosed is tracing I spoke to Dowson about. It fits the 3/8’ of S. Palestine (of which you have the plates) and I would like it to be put on the plate and about 50 copies printed, fairly quickly. I’m coming down tomorrow morning.”
When the decision to withdraw the last troops from Gallipoli was taken in October 1915, and a Turkish invasion of Egypt seemed probable, Lawrence was put in charge of gathering and updating all information concerning the Turkish desert railway. The above letter and subsequent missives to Crosthwaite show him paying increasing attention to the correct positions of lines and stations.

h. ALS signed in full from Lawrence to Crosthwaite. 11.11.15.Military Intelligence Office, War Office, Cairo official letterhead. “At the Railway Bridge E. of Adana, & N.E. of Missis, between Missis & Hamidi, on the Cilicia sheet, it should be Chakal Dere (the village next door) & not Chikaldir. Can you alter the black plate?”

i. ALS signed with initials from Lawrence to Crosthwaite. 11.11.15.Military Intelligence Office, War Office, Cairo.
“Please write the word Mamouré against the next station E of Uzmanie on the Bagdad line. It is marked now as STA. The nearest village is Dervishie. Please add to Black Plate of Cilicia sheet.”

j. ALS signed with initials from Lawrence to Crosthwaite. 20.11.15.Military Intelligence Office, War Office, Cairo.
“Sorry for the annoying of Logan: it straightens out some rather dashing work by Colonel F.R. Macaulay in the Meskine sheet, around Jerablus: we had better have it right in the new map.”

k. ALS signed with initials, pencil, from Lawrence to Crosthwaite. Undated. Military Intelligence Office, War Office, Cairo official letterhead. Written in a large, self-confident, urgent hand. “This is all the telegraph information I have. An office at each place marked. I’d draw lines along roads between places mentioned, where there are road, and anyway elsewhere. “

l. ALS signed in full from Lawrence to Dowson. 17.1.16. General Headquarters, the Force in Egypt, Cairo. “Herewith the long-expected Australian Draughtsman. They are going to look round today, pending my finding some place for them to live in: for of course they are unattached.”

m. ALS signed in full from Lawrence to Dowson. 6.2.16. General Headquarters, the Force in Egypt, Cairo. “The “Dangerous area” on the Ismailia flying ground may be deleted. It will be fit to fly on to in a few days. Will you tell Tealby?”

n. TLS signed with initials from Ronald Storrs to Lawrence, 23 March 1916, Alexandria. “Herewith I send you a map of the country round Alexandretta which has been prepared for us by Pere Philippe Dormeyer, a Member of the Trappist Community in that district, who has been working here for the last month. I shall be glad to know if it will be of use to you. I hope also to send you, in the course of the next few days, a detailed report of the country round Alexandretta, by the same man.”

o. ALS signed in full from Lawrence to Dowson. 12.7.16. Headquarters, Savoy Hotel, Cairo. “Will you be so good as to tell Aitken (reference the 500,000 of Damascus) that there is no change in the Eastern portion of the Ladikya sheet, which may be copied as it stands in the 250,000. I am pushing on the rest.”

p. ALS signed in full from D.G. Hogarth to Dowson, 24 11.16. Arab Bureau, Savoy Hotel, Cairo. A wonderful little window into the world of intelligence – Lawrence has just gone off to Yenbo on his second posting with Feisal. Hogarth
was the legendary British archaeologist, something of a mentor to Lawrence, after Lawrence had worked under him at Carchemish in 1911 and 1912. The mention of Leachman, a particularly intrepid traveller in Arabia, is attractive.
“Many thanks for R.G.S. xxxiii which I’ll return presently. Could you also let me have the vol. (1910? I think) containing Leachman’s first journey …On this new sheet of Arabia you mark a route from Linah NW to Jedeida & onwards to a point E. of Damascus. Whose route is that? Musil’s?… ps Lawrence has gone off by [?]. I send you on his behalf a letter & a chart/tables for use in Main sheet.”

q. Retained carbon of the response from Dowson, dated 25 November. “Many thanks for Lawrence’s letters; the chart you mention however, has not yet turned up. As there are two volumes of RGS containing Leachman’s routes I am sending you both; unfortunately the map appears to have been taken out of 1912 journey. The route you refer to was taken from Hunters Arabia. I don’t think Musil was as far East as that.”

r. ALS signed with initials, from Lawrence to Crosthwaite. Undated. Military Intelligence Office, War Office, Cairo official letterhead. "Your Rodosts reduction is ripping, but Newcombe thinks its too small. So we’ll have to draw maps of the whole area. Will you begin with Gallipoli – Edremid: leave out hills: put in rivers named, & towns & villages underlined in red on the enclosed. I want the whole of Gallipoli sheet, & Aivalik sheet as far south as 39° 26??. Aivalik sheet goes further E than we need. It will have to reduce to the size of this sheet of paper, in black only – and its only be an outline sketch – roughest possible style.” Crosthwaite has endorsed it with an exasperated note “sent to my home!”

s. Manuscript sketch map in the hand of Lawrence, undated, on letterhead of Military Intelligence Office, War Office, Cairo. Showing the area to the north of Alexandretta, apparently showing telegraph offices (see K above.)

t. ALS signed in full from Lawrence to Crosthwaite, undated. Military Intelligence Office, War Office, Cairo. “Will you tell Logan that the place I called Bedernadik… is really called Bernardik.”

Stock Code: 225596