Squadron History

322SQN End of Year

22 Flight Air Training Corps (ATC, later AIRTC) was formed in Newcastle in November 1951 under the command of Flight Lieutenant Les McFarlane who was a teacher at Newcastle Junior Boys High, where the Flight was to parade until 1958. In 1961 the Flight relocated to Sydney and began parading at Marsden High School, West Ryde, under the command of Flight Lieutenant Edward (Ted) Clark.

During 1991, while under the command of Flight Lieutenant (AIRTC) Max Browning, 22 Flight was presented with its Banner which bears the crest of the City of Ryde, depicting a seahorse’s head charged with the Southern Cross on a golden cogwheel.

The longest serving Commanding Officer, Squadron Leader (AAFC) Merridy Thompson, was appointed in 1995. It was during this year that 22 Flight moved to its current location at Timor Barracks, Dundas. The Flight’s move to a Defence Force establishment had an immediate effect on cadet numbers, which have continued to grow to the present day. The Flight was also awarded Freedom of Entry to the City of Ryde and the privilege to add ‘City of Ryde’ to its banner in 1995. The Flight exercised its first Freedom of Entry in 1999.

The granting of Freedom of Entry to a military unit is a ceremony that has very old origins. The early history of Europe shows that walled cities and trained soldiers protected citizens from death or capture by marauding armies. The right of entry to a city by outside soldiers was therefore rarely granted by authorities. When such grants were made, much ceremony was associated with the privilege, demonstrating the pride of the unit concerned, and the trust bestowed by the citizens. Cities are no longer walled nor do they train their own armies. However, for geographical and other reasons, strong links are forged between military units and the cities where they are stationed. Today, a ‘freedom’ indicates the pride the local municipality has in its long associations with the unit involved, and is reflected in the traditional format of the ‘freedom’ parade.

During the year 2000 the Flight provided a contingent of cadets who performed the flag raising ceremony for the official opening of the Sydney 2000 “Olympic Rendezvous @ Samsung”. In 2001, 22 Flight ‘City of Ryde’ celebrated 50 years of service and in line with changes in the Australian Air Force Cadets (AAFC), its name was changed to 322 (City of Ryde) Squadron.

The Squadron was awarded the 3 Wing “Most Efficient Squadron” Trophy in 2002. This award looks at all facets of Squadron training, performance of the Squadron and individuals at Wing level, staff development, participation and general efficiency. The Squadron went on to receive this trophy in 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2015.

2003 saw the consecration of the 322 (City of Ryde) Squadron AAFC Banner, and the laying up of the 22 Flight ‘City of Ryde’ AIRTC Banner. The Squadron reached a milestone of over 100 cadets, and one of its senior cadets was named RSL Cadet of the Year. The Squadron moved once again in 2004, to its current facilities in Building 10 at Timor Barracks.

In 2005, a senior cadet from 322 Squadron again received the RSL Cadet of the Year award, and two cadets achieved first and third place in the CadetNet “A Day in the Life of a Cadet” Competition. They were presented awards by the Prime Minister at Parliament House in Canberra. The Squadron was invited by the Office of the Premier of New South Wales to attend the Victory in the Pacific (VP) Day Commendations in the City of Sydney, and also received a Citation from Epping RSL Sub-Branch.

In February 2006, 322 Squadron conducted a successful teambuilding day at Castle Mountain, Wisemans Ferry, funded by the Cadet Initiated Activities program. In October, the Squadron sent a contingent of cadets to the RAAF Richmond Air Show, promoting the AAFC, handing out programs and selling merchandise. The Squadron also had five cadets and one staff member participate in a Duke of Edinburgh Award hike in New Zealand with the James Ruse Army Cadet Unit.

The Squadron received Cadet Initiated Activity funding again in 2007, which saw 23 staff and cadets embark on a Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition to Cradle Mountain, Tasmania, in April. The ten day trip was an immense success. Later that year, the Squadron hosted the presentation of Australian Defence Medals to former Air Training Corps staff members by the Director-General Cadets – Air Force. In August, the Squadron excelled at the 3 Wing Competitions, culminating in being awarded the inaugural Officer Commanding’s Cup. This success continued in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2015 and 2017.

2008 is referred to as the Squadron’s ceremonial year. Cadets participated in the World Youth Day Mass at Garden Island Naval Base in March and also provided a Catafalque Party for the commemoration of the new Epping RSL Cenotaph in June. In 2009 the Squadron established affiliated member, life member and long service awards for cadets and staff, and was proud to present a number of these awards to several individuals who have made substantial contributions to the Squadron over the years.

322 Squadron reached a record strength of 157 cadets in 2010, becoming the largest Squadron in Australia. The Squadron has subsequently gone on to reach a maximum strength of 197 cadets. In 2011, the Squadron celebrated its 60th Anniversary with a spectacular parade and ball in November, attended by hundreds of past and present members. Many of its staff and cadets also performed key roles in the celebrations of the 70th Anniversary of the Australian Air Force Cadets.

Highlights of 2012 included a cold yet thoroughly enjoyable White Water Rafting day, and in September the skies held out to provide the Squadron's first dry bivouac in two years! In 2013, approximately 70 cadets had the opportunity to participate in BridgeClimb and enjoy the amazing view from the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The Squadron also hosted a Masquerade Ball for metropolitan region units. Two of the Squadron's cadet SNCOs comprised half of the 3 Wing National Aviation Competition (NAC) team, finishing a close second to the hosting 2 Wing team.

2014 saw the Squadron achieve a record number of cadets attending a bivouac - extending over the 100 mark. Senior cadets of the Squadron once again participated in the National Fieldcraft and National Aviation Competitions with excellent results, 3 Wing winning the NAC and most of the individual performance awards. Another exciting opportunity for the cadets was the participation in the first Freedom of Entry Parade for 303 (City of Camden) Squadron.

In 2015, one of the Squadron's cadets once again achieved the RSL Cadet of the Year award. 2016 marked the 75th Anniversary of the Australian Air Force Cadets, as well as the 65th Anniversary of 322 Squadron. Celebrations included a National General Service Training (GST) camp, a National Band Course, and the first ever Adventure Training Award (ATA) run by the AAFC. Several cadets and staff attended a Vice-Regal Reception at Government House, Sydney, and 322 Squadron provided the largest contingent of cadets for 3 Wing's Freedom of Entry to the City of Sydney Parade, where 1,000 members proudly marched from the Government House Parade Ground down Macquarie Street to the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House. At the end of the year, 322 Squadron held a special 65th anniversary parade and ball.

In 2017, 322 Squadron was well turned out at the 3 Wing Air Force Trophy Parade, where 3 Wing was recognised as Most Efficient Wing in the AAFC and presented with custodianship of the AAFC National Banner. The Squadron conducted its first ever South Coast Trip, with cadets having the opportunity to immerse themselves in naval aviation at HMAS Albatross, as well as enjoy some time at Jamberoo Action Park. On ANZAC Day, the Squadron provided the catafalque party at the unveiling of a new statue at the cenotaph of Epping RSL, featuring a lone soldier resting on arms. The Squadron also underwent a rebrand, introducing rectangular patches and striking new shirts and caps.

2018 saw one of the Squadron's cadets selected as one of four members of the 3 Wing team at the National Rifle Competition, with the team taking out the championship. In 2019, cadets had the opportunity to attend the largest ever Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, at Stadium Australia. The Squadron and one of its cadets had a moment of national fame, being congratulated in a speech in Federal Parliament.

2020 saw extensive disruption to the Squadron's operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however as always cadets and staff pulled together to develop innovative ways of adapting and supporting each other through these challenging times. After achieving the milestone of 25 years as Flight Commander 22FLT / Commanding Officer 322SQN, Squadron Leader (AAFC) Merridy Thompson was farewelled by the Squadron upon her well-deserved promotion to the rank of Wing Commander (AAFC) and appointment as Officer Commanding 3 Wing.

Training program. With the diversity of staff available, the Squadron aims to conduct a comprehensive training calendar each year. An annual recruit intake with fully interactive weekend is scheduled each February. Two bivouacs are run, in March and September, and Firearms Training Elective weekends to train cadets in firearms safety and handling are held, enabling cadets to attend .22 range shoots at Sydney International Shooting Centre throughout the year. Two Pre-Course Training weekends are run, in May and October, to prepare cadets for promotion courses. Air Experience activities, both powered and gliding, are run to give cadets a taste of flying and reinforce theory training. Cadets are also strongly encouraged to attend powered flying and gliding training offered by Aviation Operations Wing. The Squadron continues to have strong involvement in the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award, with many cadets striving for and achieving their various awards.

The Squadron is heavily involved in ANZAC Day commitments, including a number of Catafalque Parties to support local communities as well as the “City of Sydney” Parade. Similar types of parades are held for Remembrance Day and VP Day. Social events are important, such as Dining In Nights and teambuilding activities. An Australian Defence Force (ADF) Careers Night is also held as well as a biennial trip to Canberra to visit the Australian Defence Force Academy and Australian War Memorial, facilitating cadets who wish to pursue a career in that area. The Squadron continues to see many of its members joining the ranks of the ADF.