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LEES, Lt Aubrey Trevor Oswald (1899-1969)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0099 KCLMA Lees
Held at: Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King's College London
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Full title: LEES, Lt Aubrey Trevor Oswald (1899-1969)
Date(s): 1880-1947
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 0.08 cubic metres (8 boxes)
Name of creator(s): Lees | Aubrey Trevor Oswald | 1899-1969 | Lieutenant | Administrative Officer, Zanzibar and Palestine


Administrative/Biographical history:

Born, 1899; educated at Repton and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich; commissioned into the Royal Artillery, 1919; served with 58 Battery, 35 Bde, Royal Field Artillery, 1919-1920; Transport Officer, attached to 2 Bn, Royal Welch Fusiliers, Anglo-Irish War, Limerick, Ireland, 1920-1921; Lt, 1921; employed under the Colonial Office with Arab and Kurdish Levies, 1922; commanded Sqn, 1 and 2 Regiments, Iraq Levies, 1922-1924; Special Service Officer (Intelligence), attached to RAF, Ramadi, Iraq, 1924-1926; Administrative Officer, Zanzibar, 1926-1928; retired from Army, 1929; Administrative Officer, Palestine, 1929-1938; service in Haifa, Gaza, Hebron and Jaffa, Palestine, 1930-1938; sent on leave for criticising the Palestinian Government in its handling of atrocities, Nov 1938; turned down appointment in Gold Coast, 1939; retired from Colonial Service, 1940; died, 1969.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers, 1880-1947, of Lt Aubrey Trevor Oswald Lees and his family, covering the whole span of Lees' career in the army and Colonial Service and touching on British administration in Iraq, Zanzibar and Palestine between the two World Wars. Papers, 1880-1932, of Lees' parents, Oswald and Ethel, include personal correspondence and an account by Ethel Lees of their journey to Palestine, 1921. Lees' correspondence with his parents and aunts, 1905-1941, includes commentary on problems facing the British in the government of their colonies and dependencies. Papers, 1917-1921, relating to Lees' early career include letters of congratulation on gaining a place at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, 1917, and correspondence with batmen and servants, 1920-1921. Papers, 1922-1926 and undated, relating to service in Iraq include a programme and script of a play performed on SS MASSILLIA sailing from Liverpool to Bombay, 1922; transcript of proceedings of the trial of Lees for assaulting and insulting a police officer of the Iraq railways at Khanniquin, 1923; account of Lees' journey through the Shamiyah country of Iraq and his encounters with Bedouin tribes, 1924; correspondence relating to Lees' dismissal as a Special Service Officer (Intelligence) with the RAF in Iraq, and appointment to the Colonial Service in Zanzibar, 1925-1926; undated transcript of the preface to Richard Burton's translation of the 'Book of a Thousand Nights and a Night', criticizing ignorance of the Arabic language and of Moslem customs by the British Colonial service; undated notes on the Nuharram (10 days penance observed by Shia Moslems). Papers, 1927-1929 and undated, on service in Zanzibar and the Colonial Office, London, include letters from Lees describing his journey home, apparently from Zanzibar, by dhow via Aden and Mokalla, 1928; undated notes on the establishment of a British Protectorate over Zanzibar; and correspondence relating to Lees' transfer to the post of Administrative Officer, Palestine, 1928-1929. Papers, 1929-1943, on Lees' service in Palestine and retirement from the Colonial Service include papers relating to land settlement, 1934-1935, to Lees' actions as Assistant District Commissioner, Southern District, Gaza, during Arab-Jewish disturbances, 1936, and to Lees' suspension from duties in Palestine for criticizing the Palestinian Government's attitude towards alleged Jewish atrocities and his enforced retirement from the Colonial Service, 1938-1940; and letters to Lees, 1939, informing him of events in Palestine. Other papers, 1921-1947 and undated, include personal correspondence. Photographs relate to his service in Iraq, 1922-1925, in Zanzibar, 1926-1928, and in Palestine, 1929-1938.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The papers are arranged in the following sections: correspondence between Lees and his parents and aunts; early career; service in Iraq; service in Zanzibar and the Colonial Office, London; service in Palestine and retirement from the Colonial Service; personal and miscellaneous; photographs; correspondence and papers relating to Lees' parents, Oswald and Ethel Lees.

Conditions governing access:

Open, subject to signature of reader's undertaking form.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Trustees of the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, attention of the Director of Archive Services.

Finding aids:

Collection level description available in reading room at Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King's College London, and online at; detailed catalogue available in hard copy in the reading room.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Presented to the Centre by Lees' family in 1987.

Allied Materials

Related material:

King's College London, Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives holds papers of Capt Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart, including correspondence with Lees, Mar-Apr 1945 (Ref: LH2L/76/1-4).

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Iain Mutch; revised by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Nov 1999, Mar 2001

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