History of 321 (City of Newcastle) Squadron AAFC

The original staff and cadets of 21FLT NSWAIRTC in 1952

321SQN can trace its heritage to No 1 Flight of 33 Squadron, which was organized in the Newcastle area during the Second World War.

The current unit was formed as 21 Flight, New South Wales Squadron, Air Training Corps in February 1952, under the command of Flight Lieutenant A.H. Hodge. The flight was based at the selective Newcastle Boys High School in Waratah, drawing its strength from pupils at the school. In the late 1970s, selective schools were discontinued, and the school was renamed Waratah High School. Around that time, the flight started to accept cadets from throughout the local community area.

In August 1974, the Federal Parliament of the day announced the decision to cease all operations of the Cadet Forces of Australia and to disband the cadets. Very strong public opposition and a change of government resulted in the Cadet Forces being continued in 1975. Then in 1977 new Cadet Forces Regulations were approved by the government, allowing the Air Training Corps, Naval Reserve Cadets and the Army Cadet Corps to be reformed with control delegated to the parent arm of the Defence Forces, but with provision for community support of cadet units.

In 1980, the first female staff joined the Air Training Corps, and in 1982, the first female cadets were enrolled. Several Air Training Corps flights had female cadets parading as ‘auxiliary’ members around that time, and 21 Flight was amongst the first units to enrol girls as cadets. Today, female cadets make up approximately twenty-five percent of the cadets in the organization.

In the late 1980s, the school at Waratah needed the space occupied by 21 Flight, and so after more than thirty-five years at Waratah, the unit re-located to St Pius X College in Adamstown.

In 1989 the unit was granted the privilege by the Newcastle City Council, to use the city’s name in the unit title. Consequently the unit was designated 21 (City of Newcastle) Flight. The inclusion of the city’s name confirmed the unit’s strong links with the Newcastle area and community. Later, the then Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Cr John Tate, agreed to become the unit patron.

In September 1997, 321 Squadron cadets participated in a bi-lateral exchange with No.1 Welsh Wing Air Training Corps to the United Kingdom, and in October 1999, helped to host the return visit to Australia by the Welsh staff and cadets.

In the year 2000 a review of the Australian Services Cadet Scheme (ASCS) was initiated by the federal government. This review, known as the Topley Report, recommended the renaming of the cadets to Australian Defence Force Cadets (ADFC) and the Air Training Corps be renamed as the Australian Air Force Cadets. The Government accepted this recommendation and hence the Air Training Corps became the AAFC in July 2001. As part of the changes the organization structure was renamed to align with current Air Force structures. Each state has a wing with the exception of Queensland that has two wings. Each squadron is designated with the wing number preceding the squadron number (ie all squadrons in NSW are part of 3 Wing). Consequently in 2001, 21 Flight Air Training Corps was redesignated 321 (City of Newcastle) Squadron, Australian Air Force Cadets.

In late 2006 321 Squadron moved to its current location at Bullecourt Barracks, Adamstown. The squadron accommodation has recently been expanded, ensuring that the unit has its own administration and logistics area, and shares training facilities with other units on the base.