Unit History: RAF Habbaniya

RAF Habbaniya
RAF Habbaniya was constructed on the west bank of the Euphrates and opened on 19 October 1936. Squadrons, units and headquarters and the hospital gradually moved in from Hinaidi Cantonment, Baghdad, which was vacated by the British. Originally called RAF Dhibban, on 1 May 1938 it was renamed RAF Habbaniya. It was a large flying training school during World War II, as well as a transport staging airfield. During the Rashid Ali rebellion in 1941 the base was besieged by the Iraqi Army encamped on the overlooking plateau. The siege was lifted by the units based at Habbaniya, including pilots from the training school, a battalion of the King’s Own Royal Regiment flown in at the last moment, No. 1 RAF Armoured Car Company and the RAF Iraq Levies. The subsequent arrival of a relief column (Kingcol), part of Habforce sent from Palestine, then a British mandate, combined with the Habbaniya units to force the rebel forces to retreat to Baghdad. Later in World War II Habbaniya became an important stage on the southern air route between the UK and the USSR. British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) ran a regular passenger service via North Africa and the Middle East using Consolidated Liberator transports.

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