Iraq 1941 More information

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by djcrtoye, Sep 23, 2009.

  1. djcrtoye

    djcrtoye Member

    Hi, I'm reading a book called 'Lost voices of the Royal Air Force' it's the usual thing memories of different conflicts. I was reading about the action the RAF which took place place in Iraq in 1941. For me it was a new part of the Second World War. The passage in the book is only a few pages long.

    I want to know a bit more information please.

  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  3. djcrtoye

    djcrtoye Member

    Thanks for that. Have bookmarked it for later.
  4. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    This might help, taken from 'RAF Bomber Losses in the Middle East and Mediterranean' Vol.1 - Gunby / Temple

    May 1941 brought further trouble, this time in Iraq, where intensifying anti-British feeling, encouraged by the Axis victories in Greece and Crete, reached a peak with a coup in which Rashid Ali el Ghailani, a former Prime Minister with strong pro-Axis sympathies, took power. With the prospect of an interruption to its oil supplies looming, Britain took action, General Wavell informing the new government that, in conformity with the terms of the treaty between Iraq and Britain, he intended to land troops in Iraq en route to Palestine. On the 17th the first contingent was airlifted in, and others followed before the end of the month. In retaliation, Rashid Ali surrounded the RAF base at Habbaniyah, outside Baghdad, on 1st May, and the investment of the base, which was to continue for a week, began, Iraqi forces shelling the base, but not attempting a ground assault.

    Habbaniyah, being a training station, was equipped with a variety of mostly obsolete aircraft, such as the Fairey Gordon and Hawker Audax, as well as Airspeed Oxfords. A handful of Gladiator fighters, and a solitary Blenheim I comprised the only reasonably modern operational types. With this motley assortment of aircraft, continuous attacks were mounted against the investing infantry and artillery, and reinforced by Wellingtons of 37 and 70 squadrons, operating on detachment from the second RAF base in Iraq, Shaibah, as well as Blenheim IVs of 84 and 203 Squadrons, this forced the Iraqi forces to withdraw. By this time, 8th May, the Iraqi air force had virtually ceased to exist, which was fortunate, since on 12th May there arrived in northern Iraq a Luftwaffe force comprising 14 Messerschmitt Bf 110s, and seven Heinkel He 111H6 bombers. A small contingent of Italian fighters also flew in. They were, however, too late, and deprived of adequate ground support as well as air cover, they rapidly dwindled into insignificance. By the end of May Iraqi resistance had been broken, Rashid Ali fled, and military operations in Iraq ceased.

    During the Iraqi insurrection, airfields in Vichy French Syria had been freely used by both German and Italian aircraft en route to Iraq, and had, in consequence been attacked by RAF bombers. The tension this generated was heightened by rumours (unfounded) that airfields in Syria and Lebanon were to be turned over to the Germans, but though the Free French urged an invasion, General Wavell, seeing his first priority a forthcoming offensive in the Western Desert, was unwilling to undertake it. He was overruled by the Chiefs of Staff, the Prime Minister being a proponent of the invasion, and so Exporter was planned. The invasion itself did not begin until 8th June, by which time, ironically, all Axis aircraft and personnel had left Syria, but air operations began three days earlier, with a small-scale (and ineffectual) attack on the Royal Dutch Shell oil depot at Beirut. Most of the air fighting during the campaign, which ended with an armistice on 12th July, involved (on the British side) fighter units, but Blenheims of 11,45 and 84 Squadrons and Wellingtons from 37,38,70 and 148 Squadrons, released after Operation Battleaxe ground to a halt in the Western Desert, were active.
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  5. Capt.Sensible

    Capt.Sensible Well-Known Member

  6. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

  7. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    There is a new book out: 'Review Blood, Oil and the Axis: The Allied Resistance Against A Fascist State In Iraq and the Levant, 1941' by John Brioch and the link is to a review. Here is a small quote:
    Link: MUSINGS ON IRAQ: Review Blood, Oil and the Axis: The Allied Resistance Against A Fascist State In Iraq and the Levant, 1941
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  8. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

  9. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Air Vice Marshal Tony Dudgeon's autobiography The Luck of the Devil has a good account of the action at Habbaniya. He was a pilot who took part

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