Traces of World War 2 
RAF - Iraq Levies
10/05/1940 - 30/06/1940

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R.A.F. Iraq Levies

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1921- The Cairo conference was held and the future of the force was decided. Orders were issued as follows; 'The function of the Iraq Levies is to relieve British and Indian troops in Iraq and Kurdistan. The Iraq Army was to be formed and the Arab Levies were required to join it. Assyrians are to be recruited'.

1936- Two Assyrian companies were disbanded owing to migration, but later in the year were reformed with new Assyrian recruits. The Levies duties continued as escorts and guards.

1937- Habbaniya was occupied and used as an RAF base.

By 1939 Iraq had been independent from Britain for seven years, and had built up a small army of five divisions (two of them based in Baghdad), a small river flotilla, and a small air force of 56 obsolete planes.

As a prelude to independence, the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1930 preserved for Britain important stakes in Iraq, namely commercial interests in the Mosul and Kirkuk oil fields and air bases near Baghdad and Basra. For the protection of these air bases, the British also maintained a reduced form of the native Iraq Levies. Due to the important strategic land and air link with India, Britain also had the right to move troops through Iraq. These restrictions on Iraqi independence fueled resentment and nationalist unrest, but the government of Nuri es-Sa'id remained pro-British.

1939- One Arab company was disbanded and replaced by Assyrians. The force strength was increased by another 270 Assyrian recruits.

1940-1941- The Iraqi forces joined the Axis powers. The battle for Habbaniya took place. The force was increased by another 11.000 recruits, mostly Assyrian, but also Kurd and Yezidi.

In September 1939 Sa'id wanted to declare war on Germany, but due to the pressure of nationalist factions was only able to sever diplomatic relations. In March 1940, he was replaced by Rashid Ali, but retained as foreign minister in the new government. Ali was the mouthpiece of the openly pro-Axis Golden Square, and he launched intrigues against Britain. Following British successes in North Africa, Ali resigned and his successor moved to crush the Golden Square. A military coup re-installed Ali as prime minister on 3 April 1941.

Encouraged by hints of German assistance and swift German triumphs in Greece and Crete, Ali began to move against the British by abrogating the 1930 British treaty rights and beseiging the air base of Habbaniya. The Vichy French government in Syria also aided the Ali government and a conduit for German assistance.


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Operations and losses 10/05/1940 - 30/06/1940
Not all operations listed; those with fatal losses are.

29/06/1940: ?, Iraq. 1 KIA or DOW

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Corporal Aziz Hasab, R.A.F. Iraq Levies 5356, age unknown, Habbaniya Memorial, Iraq

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29/06/1940: ?, Iraq

Private Meftin Swadi, R.A.F. Iraq Levies 5966, age unknown, 29/06/1940, Habbaniya Memorial, Iraq

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Assyrian Levies R.A.F.
Air of Authority
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Iraq Levies
Land Forces of Britain, the Empire and Commonwealth
New Zealanders in the Royal Air Force (Vol III) - Africa and middle East
RAF Museum: British Military Aviation in 1940
RAF Order of Battle, France, 10th May 1940
Royal Air Force History Section
The Royal Air Force, 1939-1945
The Second World War - a day by day account

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Air Aces
Airwar over Denmark
Allied World War II Casualties in the Netherlands
Armée de l'Air - Order of Battle, 10th May 1940
Australian Wargraves
Axis History Factbook
De Belgen in Engeland 1940-1945 (in Dutch)
Belgian Aviation History Association Archaeological Team
British Aircraft Directory
British Aviation Archaeological Council - Books and research links
HMS Cavalier
CWGC Cemeteries Germany
CWGC Cemeteries Netherlands
Czechoslovak airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
Danish WW2 Pilots

Håkans aviation page (from Sweden, in English)
'High flight', poem by John Gillespie Magee
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death, poem by W.B. Yeats
Jagdgeschwader 27 (in German)
Land Forces of Britain, the Empire and Commonwealth
Luchtoorlog ('Arial War', in Dutch, with many photos)
The Luftwaffe, 1933-1945
Luftwaffe and Allied Air Forces Discussion Forum
The National Ex-Prisoners of War Association
Nordic Aviation during WW2 aircraft of WW2
Polish Air Force 1940-1947 Operations Record Books
RAF Battle of Britain
De Slag om de Grebbeberg
Warbird Alley
War over Holland
World War II Aircraft wrecksites in Norway
North East Diary 1939-1945
Wartime Leicester and Leicestershire

The Aerodrome - Aces and Aircraft of World War 1
WW1 Cemeteries

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This page is dedicated to the men of the RAF Iraq Levies.

© Bart FM Droog / Rottend Staal Online 2008. Permission granted for use of the data gathered here for non commercial purposes, if this source is mentioned with a link to