Description: Royal Air Force – Iraq Levies – Brass hat badge – circa 1941 – 1955

Maker’s Name: N/A

Condition: Very Good

Comments: Royal Air Force – Iraq Levies – Brass hat badge – circa 1941 – 1955. Iraqi made complete with two lugs.

The Iraq Levies was the first Iraqi military forces established by the British in British controlled Iraq. The Iraq Levies were a most noteworthy feature of the Kingdom of Iraq, and especially of northern Iraq during the years of the mandate, and no account of the Assyrians or indeed of Iraq itself would be complete without some account of them.

The Iraq Levies distinguished themselves in May 1941 during the Anglo-Iraqi War. The force thereafter grew and survived until the final British military withdrawal from Iraq in 1955.

During 1940/41 Iraq joined the Axis powers and the Battle of Habbaniya took place. During the Rashid Ali rebellion in 1941 the base was besieged by the Iraqi Army encamped on the overlooking plateau. The siege was lifted by the units based at Habbaniya, including pilots from the training school, a battalion of the King’s Own Royal Regiment flown in at the last moment, Number 1 Armoured Car Company RAF, and the RAF’s Iraq Levies. The subsequent arrival of a relief column (Kingcol), part of Habforce sent from Palestine, then a British mandate, combined with the Habbaniya units to force the rebel forces to retreat to Baghdad. The Levies then recruited an additional 11,000 men, mostly Assyrians but also some Kurd and Yezidi.

By 1942, the Iraq Levies consisted of a Headquarters, a Depot, Specialist Assyrian companies, 40 service companies and the 1st Parachute Company, which consisted of 75% Assyrian and 25% Kurd. The new Iraq Levies disciplinary code was based largely on the Indian Army Act.

By 1943 the Iraq Levies strength stood at 166 British officers controlling 22 Assyrian companies, 5 Mixed Assyrian/Yizidi companies, 10 Kurdish companies, 4 Gulf Arab companies and 3 Baluchi companies. Eleven Assyrian companies served in Palestine and another four served in Cyprus. The Parachute Company was attached to the Royal Marine Commando and were active in both Albania and Greece. The Iraq Levies was renamed the Royal Air Force Levies.

In 1945 after the Second World War 1945- the Iraq Levies were reduced to 60 British officers and 1,900 other ranks and the RAF Regiment took over command of the Levies and Army personnel would gradually be replaced by RAF personnel. During October 1946 the Iraq Levies battalions were redesignated as Wings and Squadrons to conform to the RAF Regiment procedure. In December the Kurdish Squadrons in Cyprus and the Persian Gulf were returned to Iraq.