History of 321 (City of Newcastle) Squadron AAFC

The original staff and cadets of 21 Flight ATC in 1952

321 Squadron 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 later renamed Waratah High School. On 19 September 1973, the flight transitioned from from a school-based unit to a community-based unit, and although it continued to be based at the high school, it started to accept cadets from throughout the local 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 in the country to enrol girls as cadets. Today, female cadets make up approximately twenty-five percent of the cadets in the organization.

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.

In 1994, the school at Waratah needed the space occupied by 21 Flight, and so after more than forty years at Waratah, the unit re-located to St Pius X College in Adamstown.

In the year 2000 a review of the Australian Services Cadet Scheme (ASCS), known as the Topley Report, recommended the renaming of the cadets to Australian Defence Force Cadets (ADFC) with the Air Training Corps to be renamed as the Australian Air Force Cadets. Hence the Air Training Corps became the AAFC in July 2001, and as part of 3 Wing (NSW), 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 where the unit has its own administration and logistics area, and shares training facilities with other ADF and ADFC units on the base.

In February 2022, 321SQN will celebrate 70 years of continuous service to the youth of the Newcastle region.