A proud history
Norfolk has a long and strong relationship with the Armed Forces, reflected today in the bases at Marham and Swanton Morley and a large training area near Thetford. A significant number of serving Regular and Reserve personnel, veterans and their families live in our county and the units in which they serve are an integral part of who we are as a county.
Norfolk’s connection to today’s Royal Navy is through HMS Dauntless, a new Type 45 destroyer with a ship’s company of 190. She is affiliated to Norfolk and visited Great Yarmouth in 2013. She keeps in regular touch with Nelson’s county and is one of the most modern warships in the Royal Navy.
Robertson Barracks, Swanton Morley
Currently occupied by the 1st Queen's Dragoon Guards, one of the Army’s reconnaissance regiments, whose role is to provide the Army’s ‘eyes and ears’ on the Battlefield. Wherever the Army is deployed, in war and peace, the recce soldier is at the front, preparing the way for the rest of the force. Like the personnel at RAF Marham, the Queens Dragoon Guards have maintained a high tempo of operational deployments in recent years, with their soldiers on active service working in armoured vehicles and on foot in very demanding conditions.
Norfolk’s biggest military unit is RAF Marham, which is one of the UK's largest and busiest RAF stations as the home of the Tornado force and a range of capabilities that support air operations. The base is the largest employer in the borough of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, representing around one in 12 of the employed jobs and contributes in excess of £130m per annum directly into the local economy through salary payments and the purchase of goods and services from local businesses.
The Stanford Training Area (STANTA)
In addition, Norfolk also contains the Stanford Training Area (STANTA), a 30,000 acre site, which, along with routine skills and readiness activity, provides a location for ‘mission specific’ training for those due to deploy to Afghanistan. Although many may only know it from the closing scenes in the ‘Dad’s Army’ TV series, STANTA delivers an unparalleled, flexible and realistic rehearsal and live-firing training environment for 350 days a year and is used by around 80,000 troops annually.
Britain’s Reserves will be increasingly prominent in the future structure of our armed forces. Norfolk is the home base to both Army and RAF reserve units, whose personnel continue to participate in the full range of military activity. The Reservist contribution to recent operations has been significant: as an example, over 700 soldiers from 3rd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment have deployed on operations since 2003.
There is a strong Cadet Force presence across the county, involving over 1900 young people aged 12 – 18, and a number of schools have their own Combined Cadet Force units too.
Norfolk’s two contingents of Sea Cadets are based in Great Yarmouth and Norwich, involving 20 adults and 50 cadets. There is also a Marine Cadet Troop at Winterton-on-Sea catering for boys and girls from aged 11 upwards.
The Army Cadet Force is 150 years old and is sponsored by the Army to provide opportunities for young people wishing to build their personal skills and self confidence in order to become responsible and caring citizens. The main administrative office is in Dereham, with detachments across the county, involving around 140 adult staff and over 750 cadets.
The Air Cadets are sponsored by the Royal Air Force to encourage a practical interest in aviation and to help young people develop a spirit of adventure that brings out their leadership qualities. The Norfolk and Suffolk Wing has its headquarters in Norwich and has some 110 adult personnel and over 1100 cadets.