JEWEL OF THE DESERT

TOD NICOL, PRODUCER OF A RECENT DOCUMENTARY ON RAF HABBANIYA IN IRAQ, REFLECTS ON THE HISTORY OF THE RAF’S LARGEST AND MOST PRESTIGIOUS AIRFIELD

A Hawker Audax formation over Fallujah in 1941. RUTTER VIA RAF HABBANIYA ASSOCIATION

The creation of a huge airfield in Iraq was perhaps the ultimate realisation of Sir Hugh Trenchard’s dream. The man nicknamed Father of the Royal Air Force had long since foreseen the need for such a large base. Resulting from an ambitious ‘air policing’ strategy, Habbaniya opened in 1936 to replace RAF Hinaidi in Baghdad. It was built under the terms of a new Anglo-Iraq treaty, and had to be “at least 55 miles from Baghdad and west of the River Euphrates”.

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