“Don’t come back to England. The horrible boredom of having nothing to do, & getting news about once a week, and hearing all the rumours and theories and anxieties of everybody all round you gets on all our nerves. And you couldn’t do anything. The Govt. is very well prepared for our present needs, and is not inviting volunteer aid … There is nothing to do but wait, and waiting is very hard.”
T. E. Lawrence to Mrs Rieder (The Letters of T. E. Lawrence, edited by David Garnett, published by Jonathan Cape, 1938).
In early June 1914, Lawrence had left Carchemish – the ancient
Hittite site where he had worked as an archaeologist since 1911 – for the last time. He was back in Oxford, working in the Bodleian
Library on his contribution to The Wilderness of Zin, when war
was declared in August 1914. Thus, to his friend Mrs Rieder,
he described the first few weeks of the war while he awaited his call-up to Military Intelligence. The waiting was to continue until