Friday, March 24, 2006
The Iraqi collapse
The British forces were struggling to approach Baghdad while Habbaniyah was being hammered by German aircraft. Lt-Colonel Ferguson's force had arrived about eight miles north of Baghdad on 28 May 1941. They pushed back a night attack and then advanced another four miles. Brigadier Kingstone's force had been hung up at a canal, but by 30 May had a bridge across. These delays actually served the British interests well, as the Iraqi's had heard rumours that exaggerated the British strength. On 30 May, General Clark heard from his commanders in Egypt that Rashid Ali had left Iraq and crossed into Iran (which Churchill insisted on calling Persia). The British ambassador in Baghdad was finally able to communicate and said that the Iraqis had advanced with a flag of truce and asked for a meeting. An armistice was signed , ending hostilities. In the campaign, the RAF had lost 28 aircraft, 34 men killed and 64 wounded. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.