S. S. "City of Benares"
February 29, 1920
We are approaching Bombay and shall enter the harbor about two o’clock, leaving the ship about four this afternoon. The voyage has been a delightful one as far as weather is concerned. It is evident that the heat in the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea must be very trying in summer for it is now oppressively hot. We have just finished the last of a big box of sweets sent by the countess. It was mostly candied fruits and really proved very satisfying to one’s sweet tooth.
Major Pratt-Barlow loaned me his MS of Lawrence’s report yesterday and I made an abstract of it for our papers. Luckenbill wanted it also, so he has copied the abstract and made also a carbon which I am enclosing you herewith. If you will take the Philips map you can begin at Akaba (NE corner of the Red Sea), and follow Lawrence from Akaba through Azrak (Kasr el-Azrak), and the railway junctions at Deraa to Damascus. Remember that Lawrence was operating exclusively on the east of the Jordan valley, while Allenby’s army was pushing north on the west of Jordan. Lawrence cut the only railway line of retreat open to the Turkish forces facing Allenby on the west of Jordan, and this enabled Allenby to capture, cut up and destroy practically the whole Turkish army in Palestine. He took some 90,000 prisoners, and killed a great multitude. Pratt-Barlow tells me that fifty planes on the great day of the Turkish retreat were doing nothing all day but swooping low over the road massed with the helpless Turkish columns and dropping bombs on them where a miss was impossible. As soon as a plane had dropped all its bombs, it returned to the base in a few minutes and secured a new quota, which it quickly dropped on the fleeing Turks. The commodore of the Air Force sent to Allenby saying that the butchery was intolerable and asking permission to call off the planes. Allenby sent back the stern reply, “When there has been enough of killing, I will let you know. Meantime, obey orders”. When Major Pratt-Barlow next day went up the road toward Damascus, along which the Turks had retreated, the appearance of the highway, especially in the vicinity of Es-Salt, was indescribable. On every side were heads, legs, arms, stomachs, everything that belongs to a man. Only 400 Turks of all their army anywhere in Palestine are supposed to have escaped. The rest were dead, wounded or prisoners. Some of the small places mentioned by Lawrence in his report, you will not find on the map, but most of them, — quite enough to understand his account, — you will be able to find without trouble, especially Akaba, Azrak, Amman, Deraa and Damascus.
Now I must turn to a long letter to George Allen on Institute affairs. From the impressions that Luckenbill brings out, it is to be a large affair before we have done with it. It is evident that the conclusion of the war was the moment to jump in, and reluctant as I was to leave home, I could not evade the duty of making one more effort to put at least one American department of Oriental Languages in a position for scientific production like that of a department of Chemistry or Astronomy. I can see it is coming. The president told Luckenbill, “Tell Mr. Breasted he need have no anxiety about there being plenty of money for his work in the future”. It is obvious that we have just as good a claim on funds, equipment, building and increased staff as any department of modern natural science; but to make the trustees and the donors see this has always been impossible heretofore. I think Ancient Times had a lot to do with it.