22 Squadron

No. 22 Squadron exists today, working with helicopters from across all three Services. They previously operated as a Search and Rescue unit for over 60 years.

The Squadron re-formed in May 2020 at RAF Benson as the Operational Evaluation Unit of the Joint Helicopter Command.

Valiant and Brave

On a Torteaux, a Maltese Cross throughout, overall a 'pi' fimbriated - approved by King Edward VIII in May 1936. The Greek sign 'pi' denotes the Squadron's service in France with the 7th Wing, the pilots often taking off over the Wing's HQ - hence the 22 over 7, or 'pi'. When the badge was approved, the Squadron was based in Malta, which accounts for the inclusion of the Cross.


No. 22 Squadron was formed at Fort Grange, Gosport, on 1 September 1915 and departed for France seven months later with twelve FE2B two-seat pusher biplanes. These outdated aircraft were used for a year on reconnaissance tasks before they transferred to a fighter unit with Bristol Fighters. The Squadron moved to Germany after the War as part of the Army of Occupation and returned to the UK in August 1919 prior to disbanding at the end of the year.

The Squadron reformed in 1923 to test every new aircraft, civilian and military, produced by the British aviation industry and as well as every foreign design to be used by the RAF.  Throughout WWII, the Squadron conducted mine-laying sorties and torpedo operations, where numerous individuals were commended for their brave actions, some posthumously.

In 1955, the Squadron began its long association with helicopters, first being equipped with Whirlwinds in the search and rescue role. No. 22 Squadron performed the search and rescue role with Sycamore, Whirlwind, Wessex and finally Sea King helicopters before disbanding in 2015 having conducted over 10,000 life-saving sorties.

In May 2020, the Squadron re-formed at RAF Benson as the Operational Evaluation Unit of the Joint Helicopter Command under the Air Warfare Branch.  They are responsible for testing all new equipment to be used on eight helicopter types used across the three Services.


1915 - Formed at Fort Grange.

1941 - Flying Officer K Campbell was awarded the VC.

1955 - Reformed as SAR squadron.

2015 – Disbanded as a SAR squadron.

2020 – Reformed at RAF Benson as an Operational Evaluation Unit

Battle honours

Western Front 1916-1918*

Somme 1916*

Ypres 1917*

Cambrai 1917

Somme 1918



Hindenburg Line*

Channel and North Sea 1939-1941*

France and Low Countries 1940

Invasion Ports 1940

Biscay Ports 1940-1941

Mediterranean 1942*

Eastern Waters 1942-1944*

Burma 1944-1945*.

(Honours marked with an asterisk, may be emblazoned on the Squadron Standard)