View Full Version : Norperforce 1918-1921

Chris Woods
1st February 2009, 11:33
I am currently researching the operations involved with 'North Persia Force' NORPERFORCE, one of the British military operations in Persia at the end of WW1.

These were complex, mopping up the Turkish incursion into Persia, operations around and on the Caspian (with the R.N.) and into Trans-Caspia etc., occassionally working with White Russian forces, and attempting to control the advance of Bolshevik forces, until the 1921 palace coup (possibly unofficially supported by Gen. Ironside) which brought Reza Khan to power after which the Russians withdrew from Persia.

Operations in north Persia were under the overall command of H.Q. Baghdad although acting independantly in Persia, and on occassion R.A.F. planes were involved. Although primarily interested in the Indian Army aspect of NORPERFORCE, I would like complete my notes with more information about the units and types of aircraft of the R.A.F. involved, how long they were attached to Norperforce, and which bases they used (I think Kazvin was the principle airfield).

Unfortunately, due perhaps to the sensitivity of the politics in Persia during this period, I have found little information about these military activities, apart from the following:

19th. Oct.1918 attached to NORPERFORCE:
1 flight 30th. Squadron R.A.F.
1½ flights 72nd. Squardon R.A.F.

24th. Oct. 1918:
R.A.F. planes support NORPERFORCE troops following up the Turkish retreat out of north west Persia.

15th. Nov. 1918:
2½ Flights R.A.F. at Kazvin

14th. May 1919:
Naval engagement off Alexandrovsk (Fort Shevchenko) between British and Bolshvevik ships during which 9 Bolshevik ships were sunk, and involved 40 R.A.F. planes. I am not clear whether these aircraft came under command of NORPERFORCE or Baghdad.

NOPERFORCE continued operation in and from north Persia until their final withdrawal back into Mesopotamia in April 1921. Any additional information about the R.A.F. involvement with this army will be most welcome,
thank you,

bruce dennis
1st February 2009, 12:23
63 Squadron was in the area. I imagine you have already consulted the National Archives, where a quick online search produced 459 hits for ‘Persia, 1919-1921’, including AIR, ADM and FO files. Among the titles in AIR I found the reference to 63 Squadron in North Persia.


Also, perhaps you already know, there is a large card index to the Foreign Office files for the early part of the century, cross referenced to others including the armed services, in the public section on the first floor of the National Archives. Their contents are not part of the digital (online) catalogue so are easily missed unless visiting in person (or hiring a researcher).

Hope this helps,

Errol Martyn
1st February 2009, 20:32

An account of 30 Squadron's activities in the theatre can be found in Air-Britain's 'Flat Out - The story of 30 Squadron Royal Air Force' by John F Hamlin, pub 2002.


Chris Woods
3rd February 2009, 14:05
Dear Bruce and Errol,

Thank you very much for your replies.
Unfortunately I do not have the opportunity to visit London.

I tried to get a copy of 'Flat Out' from the Norfolk Library service but although they have severalof Hamlin's earlier publications, this is not included. I note that it is currently on special offer: www.air-britain.co.uk/actbooks/acatalog/Special_Offers.html

Should anyone have a copy of this book, I would welcome any brief extracts referring to operations by 30 Squadron in north Persia during this period.

I have also just been advised that G100 the Martinsyde 'Elephant' supported both Dusterforce, two being dismantled and shipped to Baku, and with Norperforce, certainly until March 1919,


Keith Harris
3rd November 2013, 22:40
I am fairly certain you have already consulted "RAF Operations 1918-1938" by Chaz Bowyer....? Keith.

3rd November 2013, 23:25

Although the Norfolk library service might not hold a copy of the book, you can ask them to place a request for it using the Inter-Library Loan facility. There's usually a fee - I think it's about £4.50 at present, but only payable when you collect the book. I use this quite often with my local (Devizes) library and it's never failed me yet - including requests for books/magazines dating back to the beginning of the last century.