The RAF Career of Maurice 'Roy' Skeet.
The prelude to the Battle for Habbaniya.
Operations Records for April 1941

1st April,
03.25 GMT. Valentia K.8852 Captain Flt Lt Skeet, 2nd Pilot, P/O Watson left Heliopolis for Iraq transporting passengers and mail, but forced to return by adverse weather conditions and landed at Helwan owing to bad weather at Heliopolis. Proceeded to Lydda and remained night.

2nd April,
11.45 GMT. Valentia K.8852 Captain Flt Lt Skeet, 2nd Pilot, P/O Watson, returned to Habbaniya from Lydda.

3rd April,
07.15 GMT. Valentia KR.2792 air tested after 30hr inspection. 07.50 GMT. Valentia K.8852 Forced Landing Practice.

{The Dissident Axis Sympathiser Prime Minister of Iraq, Rachid Ali el Ghailani seized power in Baghdad.}

4th April,
05.30 GMT. Routine Valentia KR.2792 Cpt’, Sgt Thornley, 2nd Pilot Flt Sgt Unsworth, left for Egypt with passengers and mail. Take of delayed by adverse weather conditions.
Route: - HABBANIYA - H.3. - LYDDA - HELIOPOLIS.
07.00 GMT. Valentia K.8852 Local Cloud Flying Practice by 2 Pilots.

5th April,
02.30 GMT. Valentia K.2808 Cpt’, Flt Lt Skeet, 2nd Pilot, Sgt C.L.Clements, left for Sulaimaniya and Mosul, transporting Wireless Pack Sets and Wireless Operators.
Instructions for movement received verbally from Operations Branch Air Headquarters.
Route: - HABBANIYA - SULAIMANIA - MOSUL - HABBANIYA. Aircraft returned 10.20 GMT.

Flight Lieutenant Skeet transferred to the Royal Air Force Officer Reserve on Active Duty retaining right of Precedence and Command, retained on Active List.

7th April,
08.30 GMT. Conference at Air Headquarters attended by Flt Lt Skeet and all other Senior Ranking RAF Officers at RAF HABBANIYA.
‘Iraq Command Operation Order No. 1/1941’ received: - ‘Habbaniya Defence Scheme’ to be put into Operation: - All RAF Personnel to be armed with rifles and a minimum of 50 rounds ammunition. All Officers to be armed with pistols and 12 rounds of ammunition.
Two Valentia’s of Communication Flight ‘STANDING BY’ to evacuate refugees from Baghdad or K.2. in emergency.
09.40 GMT. Valentia K.2808 air tested.

8th April,
13.45 GMT. Routine Valentia KR.2792 Cpt’, Sgt Thornley, 2nd Pilot Flt Sgt Unsworth, returned from Egypt with passengers and stores.

9th April,
Iraq Command Operation Order No. 2/1941 received: -
Communication Flight instructed to have one Valentia ‘STANDING BY’ during the hours of darkness at 2 hours readiness, with either 8 x 250lb G.P. Bombs or 4 x 500lb G.P. Bombs ready fused but not loaded onto carriers.
Flt Lt Skeet instructed to forward to Officer Commanding No. 4 Service Flying Training School a nominal role of Pilots available during the subsequent 24 hours, with types of Aircraft each Pilot is qualified to fly, for loan to N. 4 S.F.T.S. if required.

11th April,
02.00 GMT. Routine Valentia K.2808 Cpt’, Sgt Clements, 2nd Pilot, Cpl Blair, left for Egypt with passengers and stores.
Route: - HABBANIYA - RUTBAH - LYDDA - HELIOPOLIS.
05.15 GMT. Valentia K.8852 Cpt’, Sgt Thornley, left for Shaibah transporting Staff Officers, A.I.D Personnel and stores, Returned 14.45 GMT.

13th April,
09.00 GMT. Air Headquarters letter re-move of one Platoon of Iraq Levies received.
Valentia prepared for trip, but later letter cancelled move.

15th April,
07.10 GMT. Valentia K.1311 of Aircraft Depot Cpt’, Sgt Thornley, left for Shaibah. Transport of one Passenger, Aircraft Spares and Medical Stores.
Unable to return owing to dust storms at Shaibah.

16th April,
06.45 GMT. Valentia K.1311 of Aircraft Depot Cpt’, Sgt Thornley, returned from Shaibah.
07.10 GMT. Valentia KR.2792 Cpt’, Sgt Clements, left for Shaibah transporting a part of the one Platoon of Iraq Levies, returned same day, arriving at 13.25 GMT.
07.55 GMT. Valentia K.1311 of Aircraft Depot Cpt’, Flt Lt Skeet, left for Shaibah transporting 1 passenger and stores. Returned by Night arriving at 16.50 GMT.

17th April,
05.00 GMT. Valentia KR.2792 Cpt’, Sgt Thornley, left for Shaibah transporting remainder of Platoon of Iraq Levies, returned same day arriving at 13.25 GMT.

18th April,
In accordance with Air Headquarters Signal dated 16thApril 1941 routine Valentia cancelled.

21st April,
07.45 GMT. Valentia K.2808 left for Shaibah Cpt', Sgt Clements, transporting Sister, Bridle and Kit, personal effects of Mr. Wingerton, Aircraft Spares and Ammunition. Returned 15,30 GMT.

23rd April,
04.00 GMT. Valentia K.2808 Cpt’, Flt Lt Skeet, 2nd Pilot, Sgt Thornley, left for Bahrein via Shaibah with Pegasus Engine, Lifting Tackle and one body.
08.00 GMT. Valentia KR.2792 air tested after 30hr inspection.
16.00 GMT. Valentia K.8852 on 180hrs, made serviceable for standby Aircraft.

24th April,
03.00 GMT. Valentia KR.2792 Cpt’, Sgt Clements, left for Shaibah with Air Compressor and Oil Tank. Returned 15.30 GMT.

25th April,
07.10 GMT. Valentia K.8852 air tested.
10.00 GMT. Valentia K.8852 resumed 180hr inspection.

26th April,
04.00 GMT. Valentia KR.2792 Cpt’, Sgt Clements, 2nd Pilot, Sgt Harvey, left for Sulaimaniya and Mosul with stores and personnel but unable to continue to Mosul due to Aerodrome being Unserviceable. Returned 09.555 GMT.

27th April,
04.00 GMT. Valentia KR.2792 Cpt’, Sgt Clements, left for Shaibah, returned 13.00 GMT.
14.05 GMT. Valentia K.2808 Cpt’, Flt Lt Skeet, 2nd Pilot, Sgt Thornley, returned from Bahrein.

28th April,
04.30 GMT. Valentia K.2808 Cpt’ Flt Lt Skeet with Valentia KR.2792 Cpt’ Sgt Thornley, left for Shaibah.
12.20 GMT. Both Aircraft returned to Habbaniya with 30 personnel and kits.

29th April,
06.40 GMT. Valentia’s K.2808 Cpt’, Sgt Thornley, and KR.2792 Cpt’, Sgt Clements, left for Shaibah with stores. Returned 15.15 GMT with 30 personnel and Kits.

30th April,
01.30 GMT. General Alarm Sounded. Iraqi Troops seen assembling on the Plateau south of Habbaniya.
Communication Flight ‘STANDING BY’ in Accordance with Habbaniya Defence Scheme.
05.30 GMT. All Aircraft of Flight ‘BOMBED UP’ with assistance of S.N.C.Os. from Aircraft Depot.

Flight Lieutenant Skeet makes the following comments at the end of April: -
Owing to shortage of Pilots in this Unit, and to the present emergency, it has been necessary to send only one pilot on transport work during the month; Second Pilots have not been available in the Unit or from other Units.
Unit Strength: - 2 Officer Pilots, 2 Airmen Pilots, 9 Aircrew, 4 Groundcrew.
Aircraft: - 2 Initial Equipment Valentia’s, K.2808, K.8852, 1 Initial Reserve Valentia KR.2792.

Click Here to read a summary of the Flights Activities During the Battle and the Month of May 1941.

Or Here to read the Operations Log for the Communications Flight during the Month of May 1941.


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