THE HISTORY OF
BAGHDAD 55 MILES
LONDON 3287 MILES
RAF Habbaniya is born
of the oleander.
The first operational use of the airfield was in October 1938
when 30 Squadron moved in and then all the various units at
Hinaidi transferred to Habbaniya with the station fully open
from March 1937.
THE RASCHID ALI SIEGE & BATTLE
THE CIVIL CANTONMENT
THE RAF ARMOURED CAR COMPANIES
This history may not be 100% accurate
Site not available as at 28 December 2002
IRAQ COMMUNICATIONS FLIGHT
SITE TO CONTACT CHILDREN WHO WERE AT RAF HABBANIYA SCHOOL
HISTORY OF R.A.O.B IN IRAQ
BAGHDAD 55 MILES
LONDON 3287 MILES
When the Turks were defeated at the end of the Meopotamian Campaign of WW1, the British were given the mandate to rule the 3 Vilayets of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra.
It was a very hot land, inhospitably unhealthy and with very few facilities. It was a land populated by many different races and with many tribal factions and Sheikhdoms.
The size of the country & the poor communications required a large British army to keep the peace and the climate and disease took their toll. The rebellions of 1920 showed there had to be a better way and Lord Trenchard, father of the Royal Air Force proposed that the RAF could control the country at a fraction of the price of the Army.
His suggestion was eventually accepted and in 1922 AVM Salmond took over with 8 Squadrons of aircraft, RAF Armoured Cars and the Iraq Levies. They were based at Hinaidi cantonment on the outskirts of aghdad and with other airfields, principally at Mosul and the infamously inhospitable Shaiba.
In 1931 Iraq became independant, although heavily influenced and controlled by the British. The main RAF base was RAF Hinaidi and it was no longer acceptable to have an RAF station in the capital, Baghdad. The treaty allowed for a major base to be contructed west of the Euphrates. Thus was Habbaniya born.
The site was chosen because there was water from the Euphrates, a flat area for the airfield and the lake for flying boats and recreation. It was also considered an ideal defensive position (true - it is in the official files) but how wrong that proved to be in May 1941.
Construction began in 1934 and the main contractors were Messrs Humphries of Knightsbridge and because of this the workers village became known as Humphreya. It was still
known by that name in 1959 and was administered by the Civil Cantonment.
The camp was originally known as RAF Dhibban after the nearby village but as this translated into something to do with flies the name was changed in May 1938 to the more appropriate RAF Habbaniya. This is supposed to be the Arabic for of the oleander. Nothing could be more true because
Habbaniya truly became a camp of beauty with its shaded avenues of Eucalyptus trees, hibiscus and, oleander shrubs, Bougainvillea flowers, rose beds, ornamental gardens and green lawns.
The first operational use of the airfield was in October 1936 when 30 Squadron moved in and all the various units at Hinaidi transferred to Habbaniya with the station fully open from March 1937.
Control of Habbaniya passed to the Iraqi forces in May 1955 but remained very much in use by the RAF. Sadly the Iraqi revolution on 14 July 1958 made the RAF presence untenable and the RAF Ensign was finally lowered on 31st May 1959.
The Communications Flight (link in preparation)
More history pages will be added in due course.