Rolls Royce Armoured Car as seen in the Heritage Centre

Tin Can Trams

From 1922 until they were formally absorbed into the RAF Regiment in 1946, the Armoured Car Companies of the RAF provided an unbroken period of distinguished service throughout the Middle East. This service ranged from the fertile valleys of Iraq to the history rich settlements of Palestine, from the West Bank of Jordan to the barren hills of Dhala in Aden.

Habbaniyah – Raising the Siege

Even as Iraqi troops were assembling on the Heights above Habbaniyah, Wavell had been instructed by Churchill to ready a relief force. This was the only time in the entire war that he completely overruled one of his commanders.

Map of the area around Habbaniyah.

The Battle for Habbaniyah

After the coup and the escape of the Regent, British reinforcements from India were dispatched to Basrah where they disembarked and retook Shaibah airfield. Rasid Ali retaliated by forbidding any further movement of British troops to reinforce Habbaniyah.  A weak battalion of British Infantry was flown from Basrah to Habbaniyah.  Ali then raised the stakes by ordering a full Iraqi Brigade to occupy and subdue the RAF base.

Iraq 1941

Hitler’s main objective for 1941 was the defeat of the Soviet Union and Stalin. He had curtailed any thoughts of invasion of the British Isles and moved the majority of his offensive armour eastwards. To protect his southern flank during operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia, Hitler needed the British and Commonwealth forces to be unable to interfere with his advance.