Second World War
During the 1st year of the Second World War, Dutch pilots escaped to France and the UK. Some of them ended up in 167 (Gold Coast) Squadron. When B-flight almost solely consisted of Dutch pilots, the squadron was re-designated 322 (Dutch) Squadron Royal Air Force on June 12, 1943, mostly at the initiative of His Royal Highness Prince Bernhard.
At that time, the squadron was stationed in Woodvale (near Liverpool) but the squadron operated from several other bases - British bases: Hawkinge, Acklington, Hartford Bridge, West Malling, Deanland, Biggin Hill, Dutch bases: Woensdrecht, Schijndel, Twenthe and German fields: Varrelbusch and Wunstorf.
At all locations, the squadron operated the same type of aircraft: the famous Spitfire. The operational tasks were not that one-sided: escorting bombers en route to France, intercepting V-1 rockets, supporting operations in France and supporting troops on the ground.
322 Squadron also participated in the Battle of Arnhem and the air fights in the corridor in the province of Brabant (NL). In this period the squadron lost 18 members; their names are still mentioned on the squadron's list of honor.
After The War
On January 3, 1945 322 Squadron was transferred to the Netherlands for the first time -- to Woensdrecht Air Base, in the already liberated part of the country.
In October 1945 322 Squadron was deactivated but after the war, in September 1947 the squadron -- still operating the Spitfire -- was sent to the Dutch Indies, to the bases Kalidjati and Kalibanteng. In October 1949 the squadron was moved back to the Netherlands and was again deactivated.
In 1951 322 Squadron was reactivated and moved to Twenthe Air Base, still operating the Spitfire. Later the squadron was moved to Soesterberg Air Base. The Spitfire was replaced by the Gloster Meteor in July 1952 and the Hawker Hunter in January 1958.
Spitfire Mk.IX at Soesterberg
In October 1960 the squadron was moved to the tropics once again - to New Guinea - for air defense tasks. After its return to the Netherlands in 1962 the squadron was deactivated for the third time. In April 1964 322 Squadron was reactivated again and transferred to its present location: Leeuwarden Air Base as an air defence squadron, operating the Lockheed F-104.
F-104G with AIM-9Bs
With the phasing-out of the F-104, an era of almost 30 years of pure air defence came to an end. A few years after the last F-104 had left the squadron, 322 became operational on the Lockheed Martin F-16 on May 1, 1981, as the first F-16 operating squadron of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. The squadron's task was extended from sole air defence to ground attack as well as air defence.
During the conflict in the Balkans, 322 Squadron was part of the Dutch contribution in the effort to enforce compliance with the UN resolution that banned all flights in the airspace of Bosnia-Herzegowina. For more information, see the section about The Balkan Conflict.
The squadron crest of 322 Squadron consists of a red-tailed parrot on a white background. The parrot also is the squadron's mascot and is called Polly Grey V, currently in the rank of Sergeant-Major (Master-Sergeant). The first parrot was brought from West Africa by one of the pilots and was soon integrated in the squadron crest, after Royal permission in March 1944, when the squadron crest with an image of the parrot was handed over by King George VI.
The first Polly Grey was -- unlike most parrots -- unable to imitate speech, which soon led to the motto Niet Praten, Maar Doen (don't talk, just act).