It is commonly held that Montgomery’s 1942 victory at El Alamein was the turning point in Britain’s fortunes during the Second World War – that it was ‘the end of the beginning’ (Churchill). However, Robert Lyman reveals here how in the summer of 1941, beleaguered British forces put together a series of largely forgotten victories in Iraq, Syria and Iran that secured crucial supplies of oil and curbed dangerous German expansion in the region.
It’s an exciting story of victories achieved against the odds – fraught negotiations between London, Cairo and New Delhi, hastily assembled troops and campaigns fought and won in harsh desert conditions. The siege of the RAF base at Lake Habbaniya in Iraq is a brilliant example of this, and forms one of the most exciting passages in the book.
1941 could have been the year in which Britain lost the war – Lyman reveals here how close we came.