On 1 July 1942, 22 Torpedo Bomber
Reconnaissance Squadron was formed in Durban out of the then 37
Coastal Flight. It was assigned role of coastal reconnaissance, ASR
operations, convoy escort and anti-submarine patrols. It was
equipped with the SAAF’s militarised Junkers (JU-86) airliners.
In August 1942 the Squadron was
re-equipped with 8 Lockheed Ventura aircraft, with the new aircraft
came 22 Squadron’s first war time success when a Vichy French Ship a
Nazi-Germany calibrator, was captured. The years 1942-43 were
occupied with anti submarine activities over the Indian Ocean,
initially patrolling the Mozambique Channel. The Squadron’s number
of aircraft was increased to 23 to cope with the demands.
In July 1944 the Squadron was
relocated to Gibraltar till June 1944. It was here that the Squadron
played a major role in the anti-submarine patrols. During this
period 3 aircraft where lost in operations. Day and Night patrols
were flown, some lasting up to 9 hours. After two further moves to
Gianadis and Idku the Squadron was disbanded on 24 October 1945.
Post World War II
22 Squadron was revived on 1 January 1954 but was to operate as 22
Flight. Varied tasks, once again operating Venturas, were carried
out before the Flight was again disbanded in 1958.
Upon the arrival of the Westland
Wasp maritime helicopters to operate aboard the Navy’s President
Class Frigates, a unit known as 22 Flight was formed on 1 January
1964. This later was changed to 22 Squadron in May 1976.
March 1966 saw the first of many
trips for the Squadron to the different Islands, which are manned by
the Department of Environmental Affairs. These early visits were
carried out aboard the SAS RSA.
The first crew to operate aboard a
Navy ship were Capt's Van der Lith and Van der Berg, Lt Schimmel, F
Sgt Hammond, Air Cpl Hecker and Leading Air Mech Wolbeek. This ship
was the SAS Simon van der Stel
Exercises with the NSRI have been
taking place since 1966 on a regular basis and have contributed to
the success of many Search and Rescue operations.
The first of many ship rescues
took place on the 3rd of May 1968 when 14 people where rescued from
the Phyllisia and then days later the well-known rescue of people
off the stricken SA Seafearer.
The Alouette III helicopter came
on strength in 1978. From this time onwards the Unit has been in
operation at AFB Ysterplaat.
The 70s was a period during which
there where a number of firsts. The Squadron won the first Chopper
competition in Bloemfontein in 74 & 75, and was part of the crew to
visit the USA aboard the SAS President Kruger. Marion Island was
visited for the first time aboard the SAS Protea. This period also
saw the delivery of the then new Alouette III helicopters to the
Squadron in 1978.
The 80s started slowly but in
January 1981 the Laingsburg floods changed all this when the
Squadron was called upon to assist in the rescue and relief of the
flood victims. The sinking of SAS President Kruger again saw the
Squadron spring into action when crew of the stricken ship where
plucked from the sinking ship by a helicopter of the Squadron in
February 1982. 1983 is particularly memorable with the Squadron
receiving the Freedom of both Hermanus and Cape Town and then the
presentation of the Colours in September of that year. 1984 was
marked by the fires on Table Mountain and the rescue of Mr Graham
Clark from Marion Island.
The Squadron’s 21st year of
existence was celebrated in September of 1985. The remainder of the
decade calumniated with withdrawal from service of the Westland Wasp
helicopters, a visit to Chile aboard the SAS Drakensberg and fires
again on Table Mountain.
The 1990’s were a time of change
for both the country as well as the Squadron. The Wasp helicopter
was phased out in 1990 and the 30 Squadron Pumas were absorbed upon
the disbanding of 30 Squadron on 31 December 1991. 1992 saw the
amalgamation of 22 and 30 Squadron's to form a single Unit known as
22 Squadron equipped with Alo III and Puma helicopters. The Oceanos
sank in 1991 when 30 Squadron was operational, but the award for
Humanitarian services from Sikorsky was only presented in 1992 and
22 Squadron accepted the award as it was the new home of the Pumas.
This year also saw the Squadron assist with the rescue of the
penguins from Dyer Island after an oil spill. May 93 was the 50 year
commemoration of D-Day and 22 Squadron was privileged to attend this
celebration as part of the fleet review. The next year was again a
Friendship cruise to Scotland and Europe and part of this trip was
to celebrate the re-instatement of South Africa into the
Commonwealth and showing the new flag.
The Squadron was called upon to
assist with the visit of both Queen Elizabeth II of England and the
Queen of Denmark in 1995 and 1996 respectively. In 1996 the squadron
participated in Ops Unitas off the coast of the USA and the members
aboard flew to the main land as part of the operation. This was the
first Oryx helicopter in the USA.
The new SANAE IV base was opened
in February 1997 and 22 Squadron was a proud participant to the
building of this new facility. In June of 1998 the Squadron received
its Oryx M2 Helicopters, which were specially equipped to fly in the
sub-zero conditions of the Antarctic and neighbouring islands. That
year in August was also the time when the last Puma helicopter
fly-past was done. This ended an era and the Puma’s replacement, the
Oryx, was finally in place throughout the SAAF.
The year 2000 got off to a hectic
pace with the biggest fires the Western Cape had ever seen. This
inferno was followed by the floods in Mozambique, during which the
Squadron was able to assist in relief efforts.
In the past two years we have
rescued two fishermen from Gough Island, a Norwegian in the
Antarctic and two weathermen from Marion Island. When the Ikan Tanda
ran aground off Scarborough, the Squadron rescued the crew in
extremely difficult conditions again distinguishing itself as a
world leader in the field of Aviation and Maritime Operations.
22 Squadron was once again in the
spotlight at the end of 2002, with the dramatic rescue of 89 Russian
scientists and German crew off the ice-bound Magdalena Oldendorff in
Antarctic. For this brave rescue, both the flight crews of that
operation received awards from the Ambassador of the Russian
Federation in South Africa, Mr AndreI A. Kushakov on 13 February
Proud "firsts" for 22 Squadron:
First helicopter landing on
Bouvet Eiland in 1966.
Members honoured in 1970 for
taking part in the search of the Department of Transport
personnel on Gough Island.
Rescueing 2 crewmembers of the
barge, Shir Yib, which ran to ground at Cape Point in July 1970.
First SAAF flight crew to land
on Tristan da Cunha in 1972.
A single helicopter helped
with the transport of building material from a ship to Marion
Island in 1974, in close co-operation with the SA Navy and the
Department of Public Works.
Rescuing of 26 crewmembers off
the Japanese fishing trawler, Ken Maro, which sank in 1978 on
the Coast of the Death on the Namibian Coastline.
During 1976, the Squadron was
again responsible for the first participation, whilst operating
from the SAS Protea on a research mission, in conjunction with
the Department of Sea Fisheries:
First SAAF aircraft to operate over the Pacific Ocean.
First SAAF aircraft to fly around Cape Horn.
First SAAF aircraft to operate in Antarctica.
A mission to Antarctica on the
SA Agulhas with two Wasp helicopters in 1980.
Rescue tasks and other
services during the Laingsburg floods in 1981.
Many other rescue tasks and
co-operation with other organisations, like the Parks Board, the
Cape Fire Services, Metro Rescue Unit, Civil Protection units,
the local Mountain Club, South African Police Riot Squad and
other civil organisation and all armed forces.
22 Squadron has an excellent
record during the SAAF helicopter competitions.
22 Squadron has an outstanding
record in the South African Air Force helicopter competitions. Of
the four competitions held to date, 22 Squadron has won three,
demonstrating the dedication and effectiveness of the personnel.