The Camels Must Go

BULLARD, Sir Reader William. The Camels Must Go.

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BULLARD, Sir Reader William. The Camels Must Go. London, Faber, [1961].

Original red cloth with dust-wrapper (not price-clipped); pp. 300, plates after photographs, minimal offsetting from endpapers, edges very lightly spotted, otherwise a near-fine copy.
First edition, presentation copy, inscribed to one Richard Colenutt on front fly-leaf with loosely inserted authorial signed letter, addressed to the same, dated Jamuary 11, 1976, referring to a friend's frail health. Bullard (1885-1976) was the son of a Walthamstow labourer. As a young man he was - largely self-taught - determined to join the Levant consular service and succeeded. 'Bullard's first posting was to Constantinople, first in the consulate-general and then in the embassy as a student interpreter (third dragoman), where he was in time to see the last few weeks of the rule of Abdul Hamid. After two spells as acting consul in Trebizond and Erzurum, in the summer of 1914 he was asked to go to Basrah to take the place of the consul there, who was due to go on leave. This meant a complicated journey - a fortnight's ride to Diyarbakır, then by kelek (a raft of inflated goatskins) down the Tigris to Baghdad, and finally by steamer to Basrah. He expected to stay in Mesopotamia for six months, but was to be there for six years. After Turkey entered the war in October 1914 and an Indian expeditionary force was landed in Basrah, Bullard was naturally attached to it as political officer, helping to erect the rudiments of a civil administration. His chief was Sir Percy Cox, whom he accompanied on two missions to Tehran. After a brief period of leave in England in 1919 (he had survived the war without serious illness except malaria and without any leave) he returned to Iraq in May 1920 as military governor of Baghdad, with the rank of major. There followed two years back in London as a member of the new Middle East department of the Colonial Office, set up by the colonial secretary, Winston Churchill, who was 'trying to clear up the confusion in the Middle East' (Bullard, 117). Bullard's colleagues there included Herbert Young and T. E. Lawrence, but his responsibility was confined to Iraq. He attended the Lausanne conference in December 1922, where he was concerned with drawing the frontier between Turkey and the Mosul province of the new Iraqi state. In June 1923 Bullard took up his post as consul in Jiddah, where the consulate was 'dilapidated though airy and picturesque' (Bullard, 124) (there was no electricity, so no air-conditioning or refrigerator) and the haunt of a lot of noisy owls. Hejaz was at that time ruled by the Hashemite King Hussein, father of Feisal and Abdullah, now installed in Iraq and Transjordan. Hussein suffered from a keen sense of betrayal, as he saw it, at the hands of the allies, and had become a cantankerous old man who often sorely tried Bullard's exemplary patience. The main income of Hejaz was from pilgrims, and the main task of the consul was to prevent them from being cheated by guides or monarch and to look after the welfare of those, mainly from India, who were British subjects. It was from this time that he acquired the name by which he was always known, Haji. By the time he left in July 1925, the man who was to turn Arabia into a unitary state, 'Abd al-'Aziz ibn Sa'ud, was battering on the gates of Jiddah, which he finally entered in December 1921, by which time Hussein was an exile in Cyprus' (ODNB). - Of course, T.E. Lawrence is referred to on several occasions in this volume, as well as Gertrude Bell.
O'Brien F0174.