Military Corporal Punishment

My justification for including this in an SCP forum is that a schoolteacher is involved.

In 1922 T. E Lawrence (of Arabia) enlisted in the RAF under the name Ross. He kept a diary of his experiences as a recruit, published as The Mint. The training includes education and in their first lesson one of Lawrence’s comrades, nicknamed Gaby by the sergeant, crosses the instructor:-

The master was youngish, a lean dark civilian. Hand in pocket (What a liberty and comfort this seemed! We daren’t put our hands in), he stood by the dais, against the wall-map of Europe, and looked at us. We gained a little confidence. We are Air Force and superior to civvy ginks. Gaby thought she might assert the manhood our nickname denied her; so she dropped her books and splashed ink on the master’s fingers. He instantly developed sharpness. Gaby was ordered out and came back after a minute, subdued, and hiding from us the swollen palm of his right hand. “Serve the little **** right” said everyone, quietening down.

“Gaby” was 18 but most of the recruits seem to have been in their 20s and one or two had served in the army or navy in the First World War. Presumably the same treatment would have been meted out to any who deserved it regardless of age. lt was used by a civilian teacher but presumably the RAF would have been aware and not objected.

This is the first reference l have seen to CP in the RAF. The magisterial has several references to military CP in the modern age, say post 1918, but no reference to the RAF. Possibly something to research when the libraries reopen fully.


Now knowing that, if you’d been around this estimable Forum in late December 2006 you might have got in first and won the Christmas competition like what I dun!  ?  It was I think my first post here, and shortly afterwards I discovered that there had been another ‘A Lurker’ a couple of years previously and changed my name to ‘Another_Lurker’.

Lawrence of Arabia, or to give him his correct title at the time, Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence CB DSO, was at age 34 somewhat older than the average recruit when, apparently disillusioned with the broken promises and difficulties with which the higher command and political expediency had contrived to taint the outcome of his distinguished diplomatic and army career, he enlisted as an Aircraftman in the RAF.

I don’t suppose Lawrence was unfamiliar with corporal punishment when it apparently befell his fellow RAF recruit ‘Gaby’.  I’d guess it would certainly be used at the City of Oxford High School for Boys, which he attended from 1896 to 1907.  The army would have had unofficial CP during his career in that branch of the armed services – still does according to some rumours.

In addition, although it has come to be questioned by some authorities, Lawrence claimed that he was beaten by Ottoman troops and local Arabs when briefly captured while reconnoitering the town of Dera’a in disguise prior to a proposed attack.  I haven’t seen the film for years and my memory of it is hazy.  However the web tells me that he was depicted as stretched face down on a bench and beaten with a cane.

As regards your initial justification for introducing this topic, any concern is unnecessary in my personal opinion.  For almost the whole life of the Forum, although SCP has predominated, JCP, domestic CP and almost any other type of CP have cropped up from time to time.  Indeed one of our most popular, err no, perhaps rather specialist and extremely erudite ? threads here largely concerns soldiers whacking female civilians!  Which reminds me, I really must get round to posting some stuff I’ve had for it for about 2 years now!


Never let it be said that this estimable Forum isn’t an educational resource!  ?  All three of Winston Churchill’s daughters who survived to adulthood served in the military during WWII.   His eldest daughter Diana served in the WRNS but doesn’t appear to have been subjected to the cane,  common practice in the service, at least if you believe the editorially initiated fake letters which featured in the Sunday Telegraph a few years ago.

Daughter Sarah served in the WAAF at the wartime photo reconnaissance unit at Medmenham Buckinghamshire.  Medmenham was at one time the base of Sir Francis Dashwood’s notorious Hellfire Club and they dabbled in a bit of CP, at least according to ‘The Avengers’ episode ‘A Touch of Brimstone’.  Did I really post pictures from that in a ‘Teachers Who Paddle’ thread?  Well yes, I did but luckily I don’t think Renee worked out what they were!  But anyway,  nary a trace of military CP for WAAF personnel at RAF Medmenham.

That left the youngest daughter, Mary, who served in the ATS.  And according to the SF&R site ……………  Well the page here has the account of the claimed incident.   Not really a military punishment, but sounds feasible.