Final voyage for Lawrence of Arabia’s RAF launch

LAWRENCE OF ARABIA’s RAF launch is making a historic final voyage before going on display at the RAF Museum in London.


TE Lawrence conducting speed trials
TE Lawrence conducting speed trials

A SEAPLANE TENDER from the 1930s is going to sail around the south coast and up the Thames before it joins a display at the Royal Air Force Museum. It will be the last RAF boat to fly the RAF Ensign on the water.  The small launch was developed by TE Lawrence – Lawrence of Arabia –during his little-known career in the RAF’s Marine Section, which he entered in 1925. He worked with the British Power Boat Company to develop faster and better rescue boats after witnessing a fatal plane seaplane in 1931.

The launch will be skippered by its previous owner, Phil Clabburn, with a crew of veterans from the RAF Marine Branch, sailing from

Lymington Yacht Haven on 30 April, heading to Calshot, Shoreham, Newhaven, Dover, Ramsgate, Sheerness and finally arriving at St Katherine’s Dock in the City of London, then heading up to Shepperton Marina on 4 May.

The RAF formed its Marine Section in 1918 to service the needs of its extensive and expanding fleet of seaplanes.  Its motto was ‘The Sea Shall Not Have Them’ and the service saved 13,000 lives during World War Two.  The branch was disbanded and its remaining role was privatised in 1986.

Further information on the RAF Museum at Hendon, north London, tel: (020) 8205 2266;
Images courtesy of RAF Museum