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Unit History: RAF Northwood

RAF Northwood
Northwood Headquarters is a military headquarters facility of the British Armed Forces in Eastbury, Hertfordshire, England, adjacent to the London suburb of Northwood. It is home to three command and control functions of the British armed forces and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO); Permanent Joint Headquarters, Commander in Chief Fleet and the NATO Regional Command, Allied Maritime Component Command Northwood.
The British armed forces first arrived on the site in 1939, when Eastbury Park, Northwood, became the Headquarters of RAF Coastal Command. It was in fact the RAF who started going underground to build their Headquarters.
In 1953, the NATO Commander-in-Chief Eastern Atlantic Area, who was also Commander-in-Chief Fleet, established his Headquarters at Northwood.
In April 1963 the Naval unit at Northwood was commissioned as HMS Warrior and in September 1971 the Royal Navy took over responsibility for the whole site. In 1978 the Flag Officer Submarines also moved his Headquarters to Northwood.
As HQ of the Commander-in-Chief Fleet the site was the controlling Headquarters for Operation Corporate, the Falklands War.
The site falls under the authority of Chief of Joint Operations following a handover from the Commander-in-Chief Fleet in 2002.
In 2006 major construction works commenced to improve the functionality of the site: the works, which involve the refurbishment or replacement of many of the key buildings for the Permanent Joint Headquarters, are being carried under a Private Finance Initiative contract by Carillion.
The main entrance to the base is located on Watford Road, Northwood.
Permanent Joint Headquarters
Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) is a tri-service organisation holding Operational Control of British armed forces joint military operation. PJHQ is headed by the Chief of Joint Operations. Single-service operations remain under the OPCON of the appropriate front-line command.
Royal Navy
Northwood, as HMS Warrior, was the flagship of the Royal Navy’s Commander in Chief Fleet from April 1963, shortly after the transfer of the Home Fleet ashore in 1960.
Following the invasion of the Falkland Islands by Argentinian forces in 1982, CINCFLEET was given command of the operation to recover the islands. The Operation was directed from Northwood with CINCFLEET staff augmented by personnel from corresponding UK Land Forces and RAF Strike Command headquarters.
In 2002, following a rationalisation, CINCFLEET moved the majority of the staff to Portsmouth, moving into HMS Excellent in 2004. Commander Operations remains with the current operations staff on the Northwood site and CINCFLEET retains an office in addition to the Portsmouth location.
Commander Operations is also commander of the corresponding NATO regional HQ.
NATO and the EU
The NATO regional command, Allied Maritime Component Command Northwood, an element of Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum, is based in the site. Commander AMCCN is CINCFLEET Commander Operations. Previously AMCCN was designed Commander-in-Chief Eastern Atlantic (CINCEASTLANT) as part of Allied Command Atlantic.
AMCCN provides the Northern Maritime command element of AJFCB to Allied Command Operations.
A headquarters structure is available for the command of European Union military operation. Personnel to support this structure would be seconded from existing NATO and national posts in the site, augmented from elsewhere as required.
Support units
The three Headquarters Staffs are supported by:
   * Joint Support Unit Northwood, providing administrative support, life support, facilities and supplier management.
   * Defence Communication Services Agency regional office, London and Northwood providing Communications and Information Systems support.
   * A detachment of Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines personnel providing force protection.

Memories of RAF Northwood

(Memories written by members of Forces Reunited)

Hms Warrior/Raf Northwood in 1970

Written by Bill Irving

I met a WRAAF whose name was Joy Cox, she was beautiful and so much fun to be with, she was engaged to be married. But we became great friends, and were like brother and sister, inseperable. I actually fell in love with her, she my first love, and I would have done anything for her, even married her. She went off and got married and that broke my heart. I have tried to find her for years, to see how she is and what she has done with her life. she was my life and I missed her so much. But time is a great healer,, but I still have her photo, and Just Would Love to Know Where She is and doing What?? It would make my days much brighter if I could hear from her just once!!!

RAF Northwood, in 1951

Written by Cyril (Chris)Jenkins

I arrived at Northwood after a cold and long over night journey from Pembroke Dock on the 4 February 1952. The greeting I recieved in the guard room was less than cordial but then it always was. I had been sent on attachment and so only brought with the minimum of kit the rest I had left secured in my locker at Pembroke and I had been lead to believe that I would only be here for a few days at the most.
I had time for a quick shower, breakfast and to put on a clean collar before I was paraded before the SWO, one Warrent Officer Hart if my memory serves me right. He was not at all pleased to see me or at least he gave that impression but I was to learn that he was the same with all new comers. After reading the riot act he sent me off to see squadron leader Luce. He turned out to be quite different from WO Hart and it was he that informed me why I had been summond to HQ.
I had just a few week ealier been on a coures at Melksham for the maintenance of a new form of link trainer and I had been chosen to lead a small party to tour the command repairing the equipment. I say small in fact the party concisted of myself one one other, a young lad that had travelled down from Kinloss by the name of Alan?? My brief was to vist all the command station to ensure that the link trainers were in good working order.
The job gave me a fairly free hand and I was able to arrange my tours to coincide with as much time at home as possible and over the next two years I was kept busy visting St Mawgan, St Eval, Pembroke Dock, Ballykelly. Castle Arcdale, Queens Univercity Belfast. Gibraltar,Top Cliff and Calshot and I met many friends during this time all of whom I lost contact with over the years
WO Hart had not finished with me for every time I arrived back on the station he was waiting for me and invariably he insure I did more than my fair share of NCO duties. I was always glad to be back on the move at least I was of the hook for a while. The SWO was not a very well liked man but I do not recall one that was. He seemed to have it in for me. but was eventually retired, much to my relief and many other.
I made a lot of friends while at Northwood but have only manage to get in touch with one. If any one should read this and remember me please get in touch. I spent most of my time in Hut 52 along side the sergeant’s mess and I have posted on the gallery a number of photograph.
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Active From: 1936 - 1945

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