Squadron Leader Michael Peter Casano, MC with Butch the dog.

Squadron Leader M P Casano MC

Between April – June 1941, the Iraqis led by Rashid Ali, and with the backing of the Axis powers, rose againt the British in what became known as the “Iraqi Revolt”.

A gunner, prepares a brew in front of his armoured car

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 showing the positioning of forces during the Battle of 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.

Vehicle crew, waiting for a camp kettle to boil beside their armoured car

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.