Armed Forces in Norfolk

Norfolk has a large armed forces community, consisting of those currently serving, reservists, veterans and their spouses, partners and families. Norfolk is home to operational bases at RAF Marham and Robertson Barracks at Swanton Morley, as well as the Stanford Training Area.

There are around 1,890 Serving personnel and their families based in Norfolk plus an additional 430 civilian workers (Ministry of Defence statistics, April 2021). An additional 80,000 serving personnel use the Stanford Training Area (STANTA) each year. There are over 1,500 children from armed forces families in local schools. Norfolk has an active cadet force of over 1,900 young people.

Ministry of Defence (MOD) statistics show 47,000 veterans living in Norfolk (2017 data – the MOD has not published more recent data). As of 31 March 2021, figures show that 8,792 residents in Norfolk were in receipt of pensions/compensation under the Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS), War Pension Scheme (WPS) and Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS).

More information about specific sections of our Armed Forces Community can be found below.

RAF Marham in Norfolk is a tri-service station, home to RAF, Royal Navy and Army personnel. It is the operational base for the F-35 Lightning, a fifth generation, multi-role stealth fighter designed to operate from the Royal Navy's HMS Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers. The Lightning can conduct air-to-surface, electronic warfare, intelligence gathering and air-to-air missions simultaneously.

The Station has a range of engineering support functions, a force protection wing, intelligence services, security and law enforcement teams, and a reserve unit.

During 2021, the F-35B Lightnings of 617 Squadron were deployed for 7 months on HMS Queen Elizabeth as part of the Carrier Strike Group 21 tour of the Far East.

Based at Robertson Barracks in Swanton Morley since 2015, 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards is an army reconnaissance regiment, whose role is to provide the Army’s ‘eyes and ears’ on the battlefield.

1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards is one of the most operationally experienced regiments in the army having seen action as the reconnaissance force during the Gulf War, Iraq War and Afghanistan.

Recent deployments include Operation CABRIT in Poland and Operation NEWCOMBE in Mali.

Traditionally, the Regiment's reconnaissance role was to operate ahead of the main armoured and infantry formations, scouting forward to find the enemy, passing back timely and accurate information to shape the plan, and fixing the enemy in place so they could be defeated.

Today, 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards operate either on “Jackal 2” armoured vehicles or dismounted, on their feet. Their role is still primarily in reconnaissance, finding the enemy and understanding the areas in which they operate.

Run by the British Army, the Stanford Training Area, (STANTA), is a 30,000-acre site, that provides one of the UK’s major live-fire training and manoeuvre facilities up to battalion level, including mortars, artillery and ground-attack aircraft in support. As one of the larger training areas, large parachute drops are also practised there.

Along with routine skills and readiness activity, it provides a location for ‘mission specific’ training. Facilities such as themed villages, patrol bases, open countryside and a simulated town are incorporated into exercises that give the infantry soldier a realistic understanding of what it will be like to operate in whichever theatre they may be sent to.

STANTA delivers an unparalleled, flexible and realistic rehearsal and ‘live-fire’ training environment that is operational 350 days a year and is used by around 80,000 troops annually.

Several Reservists units are based in Norfolk or have a strong connection with the county:

  • 1 Company, 3rd Battalion, Royal Anglian Regiment (infantry)
  • 161 Medical Squadron (Norwich detachment), 254 Medical Regiment (pre-hospital emergency care medical unit)
  • 2620 Squadron, Royal Air Force Auxiliary Regiment (force protection unit)
  • 677 Squadron AAC (Norwich Flight), 6 Army Air Corps (ground crew teams providing arming and refuelling support services to deployed helicopters)

In addition to the Royal Navy’s presence at RAF Marham, HMS Dauntless, which has a ship’s company of 190, is affiliated to Norfolk and the coastal town of Great Yarmouth.

HMS Dauntless is a Type 45 destroyer and it is among the most advanced anti-aircraft and anti-ballistic ships in the world, equipped with 48 Sea Viper missiles and the Sampson radar.

There is a strong Cadet Force presence across Norfolk, involving over 1,900 young people.

The Sea Cadet Corps have two groups, one in Norwich and the other in Great Yarmouth, comprising circa 20 adults and 80 cadets in total. There is also a Marine Cadet Troop at Winterton-on-Sea catering for children aged over 11 years.

The Army Cadet Force (ACF) has a history dating back to the 1860s. It is a national Ministry of Defence (MOD) sponsored voluntary uniform youth organisation for children aged between 12-18. The main headquarters office is in Dereham, with 24 detachments spread across the County, involving around 140 adult staff and over 600+ cadets.

The RAF Air Cadets is also a national MOD sponsored voluntary uniform youth organisation for children aged between 12-18. Their headquarters is in North Norwich and provides a command-and-control function over detachments that are spread across Norfolk and Suffolk comprising of circa 110 adult personnel and over 1,100 cadets.

Some schools and colleges, eg. Wymondham College, Langley School, Hethersett Academy, Gresham’s and East Norfolk Sixth Form College have a Combined Cadet Force (CCF) unit - with at least two wings from either the Army, Navy or Air Force.