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.