30 Squadron served in the Middle East theatre in the Great War after being formed from different Flights in England, Egypt and Mesopotamia (Iraq). The narrative opens early in 1915 with operations by ‘C’Flight to thwart Turkey’s thrust towards the Suez Canal. ‘A’ Flight was formed in Mesopotamia by Imperial details from India, Australia and New Zealand operating out of Basra, while ‘B’ Flight came from England. The squadron helped supply the besieged garrison at Kut -al-Asmara, dropping supplies by parachute. It also fell victim to the capitulation of General Townshend’s army at Kut, where many of its records were lost. Two of its officers, along with their observers and about 40 groundcrew, were captured by the Turks and forced to take part in a ‘death march’ to Mosul in northern Iraq in which most of them perished. Equipped at first with seaplanes converted for use on land, the squadron later used the unreliable Maurice Farmans, (The destruction of three of these in a gale in 1916, the history laconically remarks ‘probably saved several flying officers to the Service’). The squadron finally gained air superiority over the Turks, who were equipped with German Fokker and Albatros aircraft, when they were re-equipped with B.E2Cs, Voisins, and later with 120 Martinsydes. The desert climate presented special difficulties for flying, including dust storms, engines overheating, and warping of spars and propellors, but the squadron maintained daily patrols despite such arduous problems. After re-entrenching following the fall of Kut on April 29th 1916, the British went over to the offensive in December 1916, and by mid-March 1918 the Turks had been cleared from the Tigris and Baghdad had fallen. 30 Squadron supported the offensive with reconaissance, bombing and other combat missions. This history is an engrossing account of a difficult and often neglected front of the Great War, and sheds light on similar problems encountered by coaltion forces currently deployed in the same region.
Major J.Everidge, R.A.F.
Usually despatched within 2-5 Days
SB 69 pp. 2004 N&MP Reprint of Original Air Ministry Historical Branch manuscript
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