A dinner, a formal parade, a church service and lots of reminiscing happened last weekend as Whanganui's No 9 Squadron Air Training Cadets celebrated their 75th anniversary, Squadron Leader Charlie Quirk says.

The squadron started in September 1941, during World War II. It had its first official parade on December 2 that year.

Its emphasis has changed since those war years, but it still has 73 cadets and six staff, and parades every Wednesday night at its premises in Whanganui's Maria Pl Extension.

The anniversary weekend started on Saturday morning with a small group of cadets re-enacting activities from the 1940s at the squadron's former premises in Ridgway Street.


Its current Maria Pl premises were also open - with photo boards, displays and a slide presentation running. Morning tea was provided by the squadron's support committee, and people could try out the flight simulator and reminisce with old friends.

The formal parade took place on the Whanganui War Memorial Centre forecourt on Saturday afternoon, Mr Quirk said. It flew the New Zealand Cadet Forces Banner.

It was reviewed by two former cadets, Group Captain Nick Olney, the RNZAF Ohakea Base Commander, and Warrant Officer Ritchie Pleasants, a Base Warrant Officer also at Ohakea.

Group Captain Olney congratulated No.9 Squadron and the Air Training Corps on their anniversary, and talked about his own time as a cadet.

After that about 200 people watched a film on the squadron's history at the Davis Lecture Theatre.

That night there was a dinner that drew in ex-cadets from late 1950s through to current cadets. Stories, memories and photos were shared.

The weekend ended on Sunday with former cadets joining squadron members and members of the public attending the Battle of Britain Commemoration Service at St Peter's Church in Gonville.

In the early 1940s the squadron's main focus was to train young men to join the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and a number of them were deployed overseas.

After the war the number of cadets decreased, Mr Quirk said. During the 1950s and 60s the squadron became more youth focused.

In 1971 the Air Training Corps stopped being part of the RNZAF and joined the Sea Cadets and Cadet Corps (the army equivalent) to form the New Zealand Cadet Forces.