6 Squadron, RAF Hinaidi and Ma'Asker Cemetery
The original purpose of my website was to document the early years of 6 Squadron. This evolved from my first book, For God, England & Ethel, a factual novel featuring my grandfather who served with 6 Squadron on the Western Front. I also wanted to display some of the research material that didn't end up in the book. The website has grown a lot over the past thirteen years but 6 Squadron still plays a major part in it, with sections on the 6 Squadron journal, the Tin-opener, the squadron's move to Mesopotamia after WW1, Facts & Figures on the squadron's early operations, the types of aircraft on charge, numerous WW1 photos, the 6 Squadron Roll of Honour and profiles of several 6 Squadron pioneers.
The Royal Air Force took over command and control from the British Army of all British Forces in Iraq in October 1922, requiring a bigger RAF station than it had in Baghdad West. The new site was seven miles east of Baghdad West, on the eastern bank of the River Tigris, and the station became known as RAF Hinaidi. To protect the low-lying land from flooding, a bund was constructed around the perimeter of the cantonment, eight and a quarter miles in length with an area of 2,500 acres. RAF Hinaidi was operational from 1921 until 1938, by which time operations had been moved to RAF Dhibban, later renamed RAF Habbaniya.
Throughout the operational life of RAF Hinaidi, any British national based there who died, for whatever reason, was buried at the RAF Hinaidi Peace Cemetery, located at the south-western corner of the cantonment. RAF Hinaidi was handed over to the Iraqi government in January 1938 with the exception of the land containing the cemetery which remained the property of the British Government and the cemetery to be maintained in perpetuity by the Imperial War Graves Commission, name later changed to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Sadly, over the next eighty years, the cemetery (renamed the Ma'Asker Al Raschid RAF Cemetery and more simply the Rasheed Cemetery) containing 299 graves gradually fell into disrepair and eventually was overlooked altogether - that is, until I became aware of its appalling condition in 2018 whilst researching the death of a WW1 'ace' pilot who was killed whilst departing on a mission from RAF Hinaidi in 1922 and was buried in the cemetery, half a mile from where his Bristol FB2 Fighter crashed. Four years on and there is now a new wall around the cemetery, with an ongoing contract in place to pay for a caretaker / gardener until April 2023 when the schedule for the next phase of the restoration project will be determined by the CWGC under the direction and funding of the UK Ministry of Defence. Click HERE for the full story.
This website contains photographs covering WW1 and the inter-War years, with an emphasis on 6 Squadron Royal Flying Corps (later Royal Air Force). There is also a section with 43 pages of high definition aerial photographs (two to a page) taken by 6 Squadron aircraft before and after the Battle of Messines. A new section has recently been added, containing images of WW1 maps and photographs as well as copies of every page of my grandfather's WW1 wireless training document.
If you need help researching anyone who served in the British Royal Flying Corps and information regarding the early years of the Royal Air Force, you can contact me by clicking on my name below.