Colonial history: Turkey’s attempt to extend its control to Mesopotamia


September 1922:
Turkish troops enter the Allied controlled demarcation zone around Gallipoli and encamp at Chanak. Allied governments are determined to prevent Turkey occupying Chanak and reinforcements, including a number of Royal Air Force (RAF) units, are rushed to the area.
Elements from Nos. 4, 25, 56, 203 207, 208, and 267 Squadrons are formed into the Constantinople Wing, which supports the garrison until the crisis is settled in August 1923.

5 September 1922:
After the First World War, Turkey makes strenuous attempts to extend its control to Mesopotamia (renamed Iraq in September 1921), going as far as massing troops on the Turkish-Iraqi border and infiltrating irregular forces into Iraq.

By August 1922, irregulars, working with the local Kurdish tribes, have occupied Rowanduz and are probing towards Rania and Sulaimaniya. During the month, a mixed column of Imperial troops and levies, sent to restore the situation, are forced to retreat and it is subsequently decided to evacuate Sulaimaniya. Eighteen Royal Air Force (RAF) transport aircraft participate in the evacuation, which begins on this date.

30 September 1922:
Following earlier British reverses during September 1922, a Turkish Army detachment crosses into Iraq and established a post at Koi Sanjak, within 40 miles of Kirkuk. After an ultimatum dropped on the post is ignored, air action begins against Koi Sanjak and the neighbouring villages and the Turkish detachment is forced to withdraw.

1 October 1922:
The Royal Air Force (RAF) assumes military control of Iraq and throughout the winter of 1922-23, irregular posts are located and attacked from the air.
These attacks form the first effective check on Turkish aspirations with air supply operations conducted in support of Royal Air Force squadrons operating from Kirkuk.


Photo: British Military Aviation in 1922

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