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Persia & Iraq 1941 - 1947:

Overview and Higher Formations

Chronology of Events
The chronology of events for the campaign in Iraq and Persia commences on 3 April 1941, when a coup d’etat installed a pro-German goverment. Fearful for the security of British interests in Iraq (mainly oil supply), the U.K. Government instructed G.H.Q. India Command to send an expeditionary force to Basra. This had been planned for, as the U.K. were allowed to station troops in Basra under a treaty with Iraq. The initial force comprised two brigades from the 10 Indian Infantry Division, which secured Basra and drove up to Baghdad. On the approaches to Baghdad, the Indian brigades met an ad hoc force called ‘Habforce’, which had invaded Iraq from Palestine. Baghdad was entered by British troops on 31 May 1941, and an armistice signed.

On 8 June 1941, British forces invaded Syria to overthrow the Vichy French government in Syria and Lebanon. Elements of the 10 Indian Infantry Division and ‘Habforce’ were used in this campaign, together with Australian, Indian and British troops from Palestine. The Vichy French surrendered on 12 July 1941.

On 26 August 1941, British forces invaded Persia, a sovereign country, in order to secure the country against German influence. The Persia premier agreed to a ceasefire on 28 August 1941, although some armed resistence continued. On 1 September 1941, British forces met up with Russian troops which had invaded Persia from the north.

Persia and Iraq were then garrisoned in order to open up a supply route to Russia and to guard against German invasion through the Caucasus mountains in early 1943. This threat quickly evaporated in mid 1943, so Persia and Iraq Command was gradually run down during the rest of the war.

Order of Battle and Command Structure
The command structure for the campaign is illustrated. It shows the order of battle of PaiForce on the 14 March 1943 when the number of troops in the command were at their highest.

Higher Formations
The higher formations deployed in Persia and Iraq were Persia and Iraq Command, 10 Army, III Corps and XXI Indian Corps. The history and senior personnel for these formations is shown on the accompanying documents.

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