The RAF Career of Maurice 'Roy' Skeet.
"A Summary of the Origins and Development of

The Communications Flight,
RAF Habbaniya, Iraq, from 1939-41

This Page charts the history of Maurice Roy Skeet from Pilot Officer with No' 70 Squadron Detachment at the outbreak of War to the rank of Flight Lieutenant and Officer Commanding the newly reincorporated 'Communications Flight'.
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3rd September, War Declared by Great Britain against Nazi Germany, All Service Personnel placed on Active Service Duty.

(Under Wartime conditions, all Service Personnel in the Middle East were issued with Ransom Notes for use in the event of abduction by Arab Nationals or local Tribesmen. All Service Aircraft and Vehicles were instructed to carry sufficient Rifles and/or Machine Guns, with Ammunition and rations for use in the case of an emergency. All Personnel and Equipment movement times were to be quoted in GMT not Local Time.)

According to the Official Records the original 'Communications Flight, Iraq' was disbanded at the outbreak of World War II.

Unfortunately operational details as to the activities of No' 70 Squadron Transport Detachment during the period September 1939 to June 1940 are presently somewhat abbreviated, however Pilot Officer Skeet is recorded as being at Bahrein in October 1939 he is next recorded on duty at RAF Helwan in June 1940, and then on detached duty at Station Habbaniya and RAF Heliopolis in June, and then on detached duty at Station Habbaniya in August 1940.

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12th September, 03.00 GMT. P/O Skeet with No 70 Bomber Transport Squadron 'C' Flight Detachment, Habbaniya, Iraq. Pilot, Flying Duties, Aircraft Valentia I.
Two Valentia Aircraft detailed to transport equipment and personnel for "S" Squadron’s move from Habbaniya to Shajah. Aircraft ordered to proceed from Shaibah to Shajah via Bahrein without unnecessary delay.

Valentia J.8921, Captain P/O Garrard-Cole, Co-pilot P/O M.R.Skeet, Crew, Sgt Hardisty, AC1 Walker, and LAC Taylor.
Valentia K.2801, Captain F/O Hesketh, Co-pilot Sgt Clements, Crew, AC1 Grayshon, AC1 Wilson and AC1 Fayers.

9th October, No 70 Squadron "C" Flight Detachment under the Command of Sqn Ldr H.A.Simmons ordered to proceed to Helwan.

Detachment of two Valentia Aircraft K.3161 and K.8848 instructed to remain at RAF Habbaniya under the Command of Acting Flight Lieutenant H.W.Barnard, This Unit to be administered by the Officer Commanding Aircraft Depot Habbaniya.Valentia K8848 in flight
Personnel list: -
(39800) P/O Skeet M.R. (Pilot) (at Bahrein awaiting return to Habbaniya)
(565030) Sgt Thornley W. (Pilot/Fitt.I)
(565489) Sgt Clements C. (Pilot/Fitt.I)
(517915) LAC Taylor E. (Fitt.II) (at Bahrein awaiting return to Habbaniya)
(566026) LAC Cruickshank A. (Fitt.II)
(528949) LAC Fairburn T. (Flt.Rigg')
(529283) LAC Wilson G.W. (Flt.Rigg')
(546476) AC1 Hewit H.B. (Flt.Mech')
(540435) AC1 Reeves T. (Flt.Rigg')
(539310) AC2 Howarth J. (W.Op's)
(516933) AC2 Pinnick G.W. (F.A.E.)
Equipment: - 2 Valentia’s, K.3161 and K.8848.

5th December 1939, Pilot Officer Skeet promoted to the Rank of Flying Officer.

On the 6th of August 1940, Flying Officer M.R.Skeet arrived from RAF Heliopolis to assume the role of Officer Commanding the Transport Detachment at Habbaniya, replacing acting Flt Lt Barnard who returned to RAF Heliopolis.

On the 5th of October 1940 No. 70 Sqn Detachment at Habbaniya was transferred in its entirety to No. 216 Sqn forming No. 216 Sqn Detachment at RAF Habbaniya with F/O Skeet retaining command, the strength of the Detachment at that date is recorded as being: -
2 officers, 3 Non Commissioned Officers, 12 Airmen including one attached.
The Detachments equipment is recorded as: -
3 Valentia's with one Aircraft maintained by the Detachment for the use of No 4 S.F.T.S. as an Observers Training Aircraft.

This Detachment is recorded as having carried out Proof Dropping of Incendiary Bombs, and practiced Supply Dropping, Night Flying and Forced Landings During October and November.

On the 14th of December 1940, No. 216 Sqn Detachment Habbaniya was disbanded and all personnel and Aircraft transferred to the reformed "Communications Flight Iraq" with the newly promoted Flight Lieutenant Skeet retaining his position as Officer Commanding.
The strength of the Communications Flight at that date was recorded as: -
2 Officers, 3 S.N.C.O.s, 2 Cpl's, and 8 Airmen.
The Flights equipment is recorded as being: -
2 Initial Equipment Valentia's and 1 Initial Equipment Valentia attached for maintenance.
A note is attached to the record stating that it was the intention of Air Headquarters to bring the strength of the Flight up to the then proposed War establishment as soon as circumstances permitted.

On the 9th January 1941 the Flight transported Army Officers to the Pumping Station H3 at RUTBAH, and a newly established Landing Ground (No.5) to inspect its defences.

On the 3rd of February 1941, Air Headquarters published a Provisional War Establishment for the Flight consisting of: -
2 Flying Officers, 2 Airmen Pilots, 1 Clerk G.D., 1 Equipment Assistant (A/C), 1 Flight Fitter I., 3 Corporal Fitters, 4 A.C. Fitters IIa, 4 A.C. Fitters IIE, 8 A.C. Flight Mechanics, 7 A.C. Flight Riggers, 1 A.C. Instrument Repairer, 3 A.C. W/T Operators, 1 Corporal W/T mechanic, and 4 Civilian Cleaners.
Establishment Aircraft: - 2 Initial Equipment Valentia's, 1 Initial Reserve Valentia, 1 Oxford I.E., and 1 Gordon I.E.

However, the existing Communications Flight Strength on the 3rd Feb' was: -
2 Flying Officers, 2 Airmen Pilots, 1 Sergeant Fitter I, 1 Clerk G.D., 1 Corporal Equipment Assistant, 1 Corporal Fitter II, 1 A.C. Fitter IIA, 1 A.C. Fitter IIE, 2 A.C. Flight Mechanics, 2 A.C. Flight riggers, 2 A.C. W/Op's, 1 A.C. A.C.H.
The Flights Aircraft were then 2 Valentia's.

On the 10th February Valentia K.8852 flew to H4 and transported General NEAME and his staff to Habbaniya.
During February exercises in Blind Flying, Forced Landings and Navigation were carried out by the Flight in addition to their Routine Transport Duties.

In March 1941 in addition to Routine Duties the Flight carried out reconnaissance missions to inspect the Bunds (flood barriers) and the prevailing flood conditions on the river Euphrates and the Iraqi Town of Fallujah.

Click Here to read the preparations of the 'Flight' in April leading to the Siege of RAF HABBANIYA.

Or Here to read the Operations Log from June 1940 to December 1940.

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