Unit History: Defence NBC Centre
The Defence Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Centre (DNBCC) is an RAF Unit which, as a Centre of Excellence, is the United Kingdom’s training centre for tri-Service NBC defence within operations on land. DNBCC designs and conducts courses of instruction to qualify individuals of all 3 Services for operational, training and staff NBC defence appointments on land.
The Defence NBC Centre is located at Winterbourne Gunner about 5 kilometres northeast of Salisbury, Wiltshire, on the southern edge of Salisbury Plain. The ancient city of Salisbury is noted for its superb cathedral and delightful Cathedral Close. Nearby lie many other ancient and historic attractions including Stonehenge and Wilton House. Salisbury has most of the facilities of a modern city including a theatre, cinema, football, golf, rugby and cricket clubs, a racecourse and a variety of pubs and restaurants.
Salisbury is well served by communications. It has a railway station (one and a half hours to London Waterloo), is only a few miles from the A303 trunk road and is about an hour and a half from Heathrow Airport and 2 hours from Gatwick by car.
The history of the DNBCC in Winterbourne Gunner starts in 1916 with the opening of Thorneydown Camp as troop accommodation to support the Porton Down Experimental Ground (Porton Down later became the Chemical Defence Establishment, now part of the Defence Science and Technical Laboratories (Dstl)). Initially the camp was a Trench Mortar Experimental Establishment, independent of the Porton facility, and its proximity to Porton Down may have been beneficial during the development of the 4-inch Stokes Mortar, a highly effective chemical delivery system.
The Chemical Warfare School was established in Winterbourne Gunner in 1926. The School focused on offensive delivery of chemical agents, receiving an annual allocation of over 400 4.5-inch howitzer shells and 130 Livens projector bombs filled with Phosgene for "demonstrations of cloud formation!"
In 1932 the Chemical Warfare School became the Anti-Gas Wing of the Small Arms School, but in 1939 it regained its independent status as the Army Gas School, later re-named the Army School of Chemical Warfare.
During the years 1947/48 the School became a joint Army and Royal Air Force establishment, named the Joint School of Chemical Warfare. The importance of measures to mitigate the effects of nuclear weapons resulted in the school being given the task of studying and teaching defensive aspects of nuclear warfare. Accordingly, in 1950, the School was re-named as the Joint School of Nuclear and Chemical Ground Defence.
In January 1964 the title changed, again to the Defence Nuclear, Biological and Chemical School (Defence NBC School) in recognition of the emerging threat posed by Biological Warfare (BW) proliferation. Finally in 1975 it became the Defence NBC Centre. Following the 1987 Strategic Defence Review the RAF assumed UK lead-service responsibility for NBC defence, and in 1999 the Defence NBC Centre became a RAF Unit within No 2 Group of Strike Command (STC). The national Police CBRN Training Centre opened on the site 15th October 2001, lending a multi-agency element to the centre. This concept is still in development but remains a completely unique contribution to homeland defence within the UK.
A long-standing aspiration to replace the Centre’s original WWI nissen huts has been the subject of a continuous rebuild programme. In 1988 a new Officers’ Mess was opened, followed, in 1991, by a specialised range and NBC defence training complex. In 2000 a new purpose-built construction was opened to house HQ and administrative offices and all NBC Defence School functions. The building is known as Thorneydown House in acknowledgement of the ancient name of its site. Future phases of the rebuild, planned for completion in 2005, will address domestic and messing accommodation.
Description of duty position and work environment
Joint Operations Officer responsible for the Training Support Group (TSG) at the United Kingdom’s (UK) Defence NBC Centre (DNBCC). Supervises the following sections/teams: the External Training Team (ETT) which provides NBC expertise, observation and evaluation to single-service, joint, and coalition exercises conducted world-wide, and the NBC defence equipment and concept development and user-trials programs. Provides input toward the development of UK NBC defence policy and develops UK Joint NBC Defence doctrine. Advisor for students attending courses and for the staff at the DNBCC and Strike Command. Delivers presentations during the NBC Defence Courses and for visitors as required.