Arab Legion

Discussion in 'Allied Units - Others' started by CL1, Jun 21, 2015.

  1. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    Arab Legion


    World War II
    During World War II, the Arab Legion took part in the British war effort against pro-Axis forces in the Mediterranean and Middle East Theatre. By then the force had grown to 1,600 men.
    The Legion, part of Iraqforce, contributed significantly in the Anglo-Iraqi War and in the Syria-Lebanon campaign, the two decisive early victories for the Allies.
    The top three officers representing the Legion who participated in the Victory March were Major General Abdul Qadir Pasha el Jundi, O.B.E., Colonel Bahjat Bey Tabbara, and Lieutenant Colonel Ahmed Sudqui Bey, M.B.E.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Legion
     
  2. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    The Arab Legion
    RHQ
    Amman, Transjordan
    The Desert Mechanized Force - Syrian-Palestine Border
    The Arab Legion (police) - In towns and rural areas
    The Desert Patrol
    Reserve Combat Force - Two squadrons of cavalry


    The Arab Legion was formed in October 1920. It was reorganized in 1920 with two companies of infantry, two squadrons of cavalry, one troop of artillery and a signal section. The Civil Police were also placed under the Arab Legion, which was responsible to the Transjordan Government. When the Transjordan Frontier Force was formed in 1926, it took over many of the frontier duties from the Arab Legion, which lost its artillery and signals. It was also reduced to 600 men at this time.
    The Arab Legion was raised from haderi or village Arabs. The Desert Patrol was raised in February 1931 and took over Bair and Mudowwara sectors from the Transjordan Frontier Force. It recruited bedouin. In 1936 the Arab Legion was increased by two squadrons of horsed cavalry and added the Desert Mechanized Force.
    The Desert Mechanized Force had 350 men in trucks in two companies on formation and fought a force from Syria in March 1939. It fought its final action in this campaign on 24 April 1939 at Bert Idris. On 3 September 1939 it had six locally-made armoured cars, which were manufactured by Wagners, a German firm in Jaffa, Palestine. These had been delivered in August 1939. By the summer of 1940 the force expanded to a regiment by doubling its strength and was redesignated 1st Mechanized Force of the Arab Legion in September 1940.
    In April 1941, the 1st Mechanized Force was placed under command of ‘Habforce’ and assembled at H4 pumping station. Only the original 350 men were able to advance with the unit and 300 were left behind due to lack of vehicles. The regiment was equipped with 8cwt Ford Trucks with Lewis guns. Some of the original homemade armoured cars also accompanied the unit in operations in Iraq and Syria. On 5 May 1941, the regiment advanced to Rutbah via H3 but withdrew to H3 on 10 May. It took Rutbah on 11 May and, after leaving patrols and garrisons at Rutbah, 250 men joined ‘Kingcol.’ This depleted unit left Rutbah on 15 May for the advance to Habbaniya and reached there with by 23 May. The regiment then left for the advance on Baghdad via Jezirah on 27 May and reached it the next day. It returned to Transjordan on 1 June.
    It then assembled at Magraq in June with 350 men organized into HQ, nine troops of mounted infantry and one troop of 3 armoured cars. It then moved to H3 and rejoined ‘Habforce.’ It moved off for Palmyra in Syria on 21 June. The unit was to attack Seba’ Biyar and left Juffa on 27 June but returned to Jaffa after its capture. It fought a major action at Sukhna on 29 June and the repelled a counterattack by the French on 1 July. Palmyra surrendered on 2-3 July and the Arab Legion Mechanized Regiment was sent to meet up with 10th Indian Division. After the surrender on 14 July to moved to the Deir-ez-Zor area to help restore order.
    The Arab Legion expanded during the war to 1st, 2nd and 3rd Regiment, Arab Legion. The 1st Regiment was formed in September 1940, as noted above, from the Desert Mechanized Regiment. The 2nd Regiment was raised in September 1941 and the 3rd Regiment was raised in November 1941. These units were formed into the 1st Brigade, Arab Legion in November 1941 for the rest of the war. Vehicles were purchased from Ford USA to equip the brigade, but the Legion also built 100 armoured cars of its own design. It set up a training camp at Azaq, 60 miles east of Amman. During the spring and summer of 1942, the Legion did reconnaissances to Syria and the Jezirah area between the Tigris and Euphrates. The brigade was moved into the Sinai in July 1942 and remained there until the threat to Egypt subsided in October 1942. The 1st Regiment served under 30th Indian Infantry Brigade in Iraq from January to October 1943. It was also to serve in Persia but the Persian government turned down its request for service there. In June 1944, the brigade was designated for possible service in the Balkans and was reorganized accordingly. The number of armoured cars was reduced while the numbers of infantry were increased. The 3.7” mountain guns available were replaced by 75mm US howitzers. The brigade was concentrated in Palestine and reinforced by artillery and signals. Due to the withdrawal of the Germans from the Balkans, the brigade stood down and the Mechanized Brigade joined the rest of the Arab Legion infantry companies on garrison and security duties for the rest of the war.
    After June 1940, a company of 200 men was raised to guard the aerodrome at Aqir. It was known as the 1st Infantry Company of the Arab Legion. A total of sixteen Guard Companies (1st-16th Infantry Companies) were formed and dispersed throughout the Middle East theater to guard oil installations, pipelines, military camps, and depots. The companies served in Persia, Syria, Haifa, Rafah and Aqaba. They also provided train guards for the railways from Palestine to Damascus and Cairo.
    By the end of the war, the Arab Legion was about 8000 strong and organized into a Mechanized Brigade in three regiments (3000 men), fifteen garrison companies of about 2000 men, the Desert Patrol Force of 500 men, and about 2000 men in training.
     
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  3. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Thanks to both for the information on the Arab Legion. I have an interest in this subject as one of the senior officers from the 13th King's on Chindit 1, went on to lead the Legion's 1st Division in 1951. He was Major-General Sydney Arthur Cooke, who was commander of Northern Group HQ on Longcloth in 1943, formerly of the Lincolnshire Regiment.
     
  4. Holt

    Holt New Member

    Thanks. Major General Cooke lived in my house in Holt, Norfolk for many years after his retirement from the Army. I found tea chests in my garage marked Lt Col SA Cooke, Royal Lincolnshire Regiment and I then discovered the role he played in Operation Longcloth and later the Arab Legion. Could you tell me more about him please?
     
  5. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  6. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Thanks Clive, I knew I had posted something about S.A. Cooke on here before.

    Hi Holt, thank you for your question. I really ought to have written something about Colonel Cooke C.B. O.B.E. (Chindit 1 Rank) for my website by now. Please click on the hyperlink below all my posts to visit the site and then just use my search engine in the top right hand corner of any page to search out mentions of Cooke from there.

    He was born in 1903. As you are aware, he was formerly with the Lincolnshire Regiment from before WW2 and actually served in Aqaba in Arabia during this time, this was somewhere he would obviously return to in his later post-war service. He joined the King's on the 31st October 1942 at the Chindit training camp located in Saugor in the Central Provinces of India. He immediately became the senior officer of the King's battalion and direct commander of the Northern Group HQ on Operation Longcloth. Northern Group controlled the movements of Chindit columns 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8.

    He became ill during Operation Longcloth and was one of the fortunate men to be flown out of Burma, when a RAF Dakota pilot managed to make a safe landing in a jungle clearing in late April 1943. See photograph below. This story is told on my website here:

    The Piccadilly Incident

    For his services on Operation Longcloth he was awarded the O.B.E. see citation below. He became Pasha Cooke with the Arab Legion in 1951 taking command of the 1st Division, but never actually leading them in a fighting capacity. He was known for his calm leadership and excellent organisational and administrational capabilities. He also arranged for all participants from his group on Operation Longcloth to receive a certificate acknowledging their contribution on Chindit 1. See example below.

    This is a broad outline of what I know of him, perhaps your contact might provoke me to go on to write his full bio in the near future.


    Cooke SA large copy.jpg Cooke SA OBE copy.jpg Kings Certificate-1 copy.jpg Kings Officer award copy 2.jpeg
     
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  7. Holt

    Holt New Member

    Thanks Bamboo43
    I have looked at The Picadilly Incident and sent the link to the Holt Society who are interested in Major General Cooke. My understanding is he lived a very quiet retirement and his army leadership was not well known within the town. And he died intestate:
    Page 5582 | Issue 47203, 22 April 1977 | London Gazette | The Gazette
     
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  8. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Thanks for the feedback. If you or the Holt Society come across new information on Major-General Cooke, then please do let me know.
     

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