Iraq 1941- 10 Indian Infantry Division

General Claude Auchinleck Commander-in-Chief at India Command in New Delhi despatched Iraqforce, founded on 10 Indian Infantry Division, under the command of Lt Gen Sir Edward Quinan to secure Iraq. The force was sent by sea from Karachi to seize and secure the port of Basra as a preliminary to creating a base for operations.  The aim was to reinstate the Iraqi government under the Regent and to protect British interests in Iraq, in particular the strategically vital oil.  Operation Sabine was launched to deploy a strong force from India to Iraq.


Iraqforce was based on the Indian 10 Infantry Division which had been loaded for transport to Singapore.  As a result the stores and equipment were loaded to make best use of space on the ships.  This could not be remedied before they sailed and so when the need to send troops ashore against a possible hostile force they did so without much of their heavy weapons and equipment.


The first force landed was the 20 Infantry Brigade which arrived at Basra on 18 and 19 April securing the dock area.  Then on 29 April three more transports arrived bringing in supporting troops.  The 21 Infantry Brigade arrived on 6 May and the 25 Brigade on 30 May completing the Division.


The Division first secured the base at RAF Shaibah near Basra.  Once the Division was complete the 21 Brigade (Tigris Brigade) advanced on Baghdad via Kut by boat and steamer in Operation Regatta while the 20 Brigade (Euphrates Brigade) advanced in Operation Regulta.

 The other British base was at RAF Habbaniya some 55 miles west of Baghdad on the Euphrates just downstream from Ramadi.  Nearby was Lake Habbaniya where an outstation allowed the Imperial Airways flying boats to stage on their long haul flights to India and beyond.   As already described a battalion of infantry, 1/King’s Own Royal Regiment, was flown from India to Shaibah to RAF Habbaniya.  The latter part of the journey was completed on 24 April.  This was the first strategic air deployment of troops carried out by the RAF in time of war.  However, the Iraqis cut the bunds along the Euphrates flooding the low lying land and preventing 20th Infantry Brigade from making progress.


Field Regiment RA - The Field Regiments at full strength deployed a total of 24 x 25pdr guns in three 8-gun batteries.  Fire control was provided by Forward Observation Officers from the troop and battery HQ elements.  On the full establishment there were 9 Armoured Observation Posts.  These would be either the British tracked Carrier or the Indian Pattern Wheeled Carrier.  The Regiments allocated to the Division had only 2 batteries each.  Some references suggest that at least one battery had 12 guns.  Photographs show Quads as tractors. 


13th Duke of Connaught’s Own Lancers


Pre-war the Regiment was designated as a Frontier Force Regiment with a squadron with Light Tank Mark VI and two squadrons with Chevrolet armoured cars.  Some sources give them Crossley or South African Morris Armoured Cars.  Yet another says they gave up their Lt Tks for Armoured Cars from the Scinde Horse before embarking for Iraq.  Yet another has them with Indian Pattern Rolls Royce Indian Pattern Armoured Cars.  That said photographs indicate that they used Chevrolet Crossley armoured cars and maybe Indian Pattern Wheeled Carriers. 

Indian Infantry Battalions

Text Box: Infantry Battalion
•	Signals Platoon 
•	Anti Aircraft Platoon (4 x Twin Bren AALMG) 
•	MG Platoon (8 x Vickers MMG)
•	Mortar Platoon (6 x 3” Mortars)
•	Carrier Platoon (13 x Bren carriers)
•	Pioneer Platoon 
•	Administrative Platoon 
Four Rifle Companies (5 Officers, 119 men) each
Coy HQ (2 Officers, 11 men, 1 x Boys ATk Rifle)
Three Rifle Platoons, each
•	Platoon HQ (1 x 2” Mor, 1 x Boys ATk Rifle)
•	Three Rifle Sections, each 10 men (1 x LMG)



The standard Indian infantry battalion was composed of the Battalion HQ, the command element, and HQ Company with:

Signals Platoon which maintained radio, wire and telephone communication between the Battalion and Brigade and the flanking units.

Anti-aircraft Platoon had twin Bren gun mounts on each of its four 15 cwt trucks.  Each Detachment also carried an anti-tank rifle.


Mortar Platoon had six 3-inch mortars each was supposed to be transported in a modified Universal carrier, though 15 cwt trucks were just as likely.  The six mortar detachments were organised into three sections or two mortars.  Each section had an ammunition truck which also carried an anti-tank rifle.   Platoon HQ included a carrier and motorcycles for liaison.  


The Carrier Platoon had four Sections, each of three carriers, plus another at Platoon HQ making a total of thirteen.  Each Carrier was crewed by three men, an NCO, a driver-mechanic and a rifleman, with each carrier mounting a Bren gun, and each Section having both a 2-inch mortar and a Boys anti-tank rifle.

Text Box: Deployment on 20 June 1941

The Pioneer Platoon was commanded by a Subaltern and had a 3 ton lorry to transport its 21 men, stores and equipment.


The Admin Platoon provided the rest of the battalion motor transport and the various specialists - cooks, clerks, fitters and tradesmen required to keep the unit functioning.



Although the Machine Gun Platoon had been deleted from the 1941 organisation of a British Battalion it may have been retained in the units stationed in India Text Box: Lower Iraq
•	17 Ind Inf Bde
Ur, Samawa and Diwaniya
•	24 Ind Inf Bde (less 1 Bn)
•	13 Lancers (less 1 Sqn)
•	32 Fd Regt RA
•	19 Med Regt RA
En route to Baghdad by train
•	2/10 Gurkha Rifles
•	25 Ind Inf Bde



 Modelling 10 Indian Infantry Division

Models to represent the majority of the units have already been covered:

Field Artillery – 25 pdrs and Quads – Airfix

Anti-Tank – 2 pdr – Raventhorpe, Reiver

Medium Artillery – 5.5” Gun – Airfix

                            or 4.5” How – Raventhorpe or HaT

Trucks – Frontline, Raventhorpe, Airfix etc

Universal Carriers – Frontline, Airfix etc

Indian Pattern Carriers – I converted mine from Matchbox Humber Armoured Cars many, many years ago.

Chevrolet Crossley armoured cars will need to be scratch built or bought at about £15 each.

The carrier platoons may use either the Bren Carriers or maybe the Indian Pattern Carriers.



 The figures came from Airfix, Revell and Esci
Most units represented simply by painting them to
represent Indian soldiers in Khaki Drill desert uniforms.
The Gurkhas were the Airfix Gurkha figures painted in Khaki Drill.  


I’ve not made any Sikhs yet but making a turban and beard from modelling clay is simple enough or find suitable heads from the Esci Northwest Frontier figures or the new HaT ones.  Reiver miniatures make a range of Sikhs in metal.





The Lancers gave me most problems.  The references are not clear on what equipment they had or how they were organised.   According to the various books and internet articles they may have had Morris, Rolls Royce or Crossley or Chevrolet Crossley armoured cars.  There is a photograph of the latter the caption of which indicates that it was taken in Syria in 1941.  So far I’ve decided that they will use the British Armoured Car Regiment Organisation. 


  The Chevrolet Armoured Car is made from the chassis of a Frontline Rolls Royce with a new turret made from craft beads.   Indian Pattern Wheeled Carriers converted from Matchbox Humber Armoured Cars 

However, I have seen a wargames Order of Battle that shows an organisation of a HQ Squadron, 2 Armoured Car Squadrons and one Squadron in trucks or Indian Pattern Armoured Cars


Notes on Camouflage


The Division had been ordered for Singapore so the original vehicles would probably have been painted green.  After landing some may have been repainted in Desert colours as would, probably, any captured vehicles.  That said I’ve gone for a compromise and maybe a pragmatic solution of painting irregular aircraft style sand patches over the green of the vehicles.




Back to Iraq 1941


Back to building Forces

Die cast toy van painted as an Iraqi Ambulance.


Build the Royal Iraqi Army

Build the Royal Iraqi Air Force

Build the defenders of RAF Habbaniya

Build Habforce and Kingcol

Build Arab Legion and Transjordan Frontier Force

Build 10th Indian Infantry Division (Iraqforce)

Build the German, Italians, Irregulars and Police

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