May 4th 1941

Shelling last night from 9.30 – 12.30 and then again at 4am. I lie quaking in my bed, but they don’t seem to do much damage. This morning we are all split into 4 hour “watches” so I get a bit of time off in my bed and get a good shower. I go up in the back of Dan’s plane on a bund bombing job, but 20 pounders are too small for the job. Then I fly a plane off the aerodrome onto polo ground, and land dead across wind, with no ill effects.

A mechanised column took Rutbah and reached “H4” landing ground on the pipeline yesterday. Hope they get here before the Germans do. (JDW: this is an interesting comment. For a start, the relief column – Habforce – had not yet even been assembled in Egypt and Palestine, and would not leave until 11th, so this rumour is false. Evidently British propaganda was meant as much for spine stiffening their own beleagered garrison at Habbaniya as frigtening the Iraqis. Second, it is interesting to note that the Germans are already being talked about as ‘on their way’. Likewise, they were not too arrive for at least a week, and in fact their help had only been requested by the Iraqis some days previously).

Blenheims and “Wimpeys” attack Hinaidi (Rachid) today. Had a drink with Nigel Gribbon today. (JDW: glad they still have time for socialising!) Wish I had Attam Khan here (JDW: his bearer in Waziristan), as all the bearers are hiding under their beds in the civil cantonment and nothing is done. A plane is up continuously tonight so hope there will be no more shelling and I will get some sleep. Charles Braybrooks killed in a Vincent down Shaibah way. So poor old Sheila Nicholson in ‘Pindi will be weeping. A few shells this evening before Dan Cremin took off.

I hear my photography job was pretty useless!


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