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6 Squadron Stationed at RAF Hinaidi

As explained on the Mesopotamia 1919 page of my website, 6 Squadron arrived in the Middle East in July 1919, equipped with the Royal Aircraft Factory RE8. These were ageing aircraft that the squadron had flown on the Western Front during the latter part of WW1, before being transported by ship to Basra via Egypt. Over the next twelve months, the RE8s were gradually replaced by new two-seater Bristol F2B Fighters, which were to remain on charge with 6 Squadron until June 1932, by which time the squadron was based in Egypt and flying the Fairy Gordon, a two-seater light bomber.

In September 1919, after three months building the squadron up to full strength in the southern Iraqi port of Basra, the squadron moved north to Baghdad and operated out of the RAF base on the Baghdad West aerodrome. In February 1920, 6 Squadron was joined by the newly-reformed 30 Squadron (from 63 Squadron) and they remained there until late 1922 when they were moved to the newly-completed RAF Headquarters at RAF Hinaidi, located in the southern suburbs of Baghdad; 6 Squadron on the 9th October and 30 Squadron on the 3rd December 1922. 

6 Squadron spent seven years at RAF Hinaidi (apart from a posting to Mosul between the 19th May 1924 and the 20th October 1926), leaving RAF Hinaidi for the last time on the 28th October 1929, bound for Ismailia in Egypt. Operating from RAF Hinaidi was dangerous and keeping the peace in Iraq in driving back invading rebels through strafing, bombing and working closely with the Armoured Car Companies came at a cost. A total of seventeen 6 Squadron men died and were buried at the Hinaidi RAF Cemetery (name later changed to the Ma'Asker Al Raschid RAF Cemetery). 30 Squadron fared even worse, with eighteen men buried at Ma'Asker. For a detailed breakdown of the 300 burials at Ma'Asker, visit the Ma'Asker Burials Statistics page or the read the complete Ma'Asker section of my website.

Shown below are photographs of 6 Squadron men and aircraft, taken when the squadron was operating in Iraq during the nineteen-twenties. The photographs were taken by Pilot Officer (later Air Commodore) David W F Bonham-Carter who was a pilot with 6 Squadron during the nineteen-twenties. His grandson, Jim Cownie, has kindly given me permission to include them here.

6 Squadron Bristol F2B Fighter H1674 on the ground in Northern Iraq near the Kurdish border c1924
A wounded observer / gunner of 6 Squadron being lifted out of his cockpit in Iraq, c1924
Two Bristol F2B Fighters of 6 Squadron (one of them H1674) supporting the British Army in Northern Iraq, c1923
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