Sunday, March 19, 2006

The plan to proceed in Iraq from 18 May 1941

The air commander in Iraq was hurt in an automobile accident, so he was succeeded by Air Vice-Marshal D'Albiac, returned from Greece, and having been assigned to command in Palestine and Transjordan. He flew into Habbaniyah on 18 May 1941. That was concurrent with Kingcol's arrival there. He found that Colonel Roberts, commanding the Habbaniyah garrison was planning on attacking at Fallujah, hoping to take the bridge intact. Three columns were moving towards the objective, made more difficult by flooding. The first column consisted of the RAF Rolls-Royce armoured cars, one company of Levies, a small group from the 2/4th Gurkha Rifles, with some captured Iraqi howitzers crossed the Euphrates at Sin el Dhibban. The second column, consisting of one compnay of the King's Own, was flown to Notch Fall. They were tasked to conduct operations "against the Baghdad road from the north". The third column consisted of one company of Assyrian Levies, along with one troop of 6 25pdrs from Kingcol (the 237th Battery R.A.). This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.

1 comment:

Peter FitzGerald-Morris said...

The alternative theory is that Air Vice Marshall Smart - who was a non-operational type and essentially in Iraq to run a training programme - had a nervous breakdown. Tedder's memoirs speak of his "hysterical signals" and Dudgeon, one of the Squadron Commanders at Habbaniya during the seige, and later AVM himself, in his account of the 1941 Iraq campaign "Hidden Victory" recounts the story that Smart was removed from Habbaniya in a DC2 sitting in a chair with his back against the door of the locked crew compartment holding a loaded sten-gun across his knees. Dudgeon himself was unable to ascertain the truth, and it does seem that Smart has been written out of history from this point. In any event control of the air battle thereafter devolved to the sqaudron commanders and a wing commander.

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