Transform Your Spare Time as an RAF Reservist in West Norfolk
Most of us who take an interest in our local history will be well aware of Norfolk’s links with our military past, that include Nelson’s childhood home at Burnham Thorpe, the Norfolk Regiment’s Sandringham Company that all but vanished during the Gallipoli campaign of the Great War and of course the myriad of air fields that act as a constant reminder of the County’s vital role in winning the air battles of both World Wars.
But while the rumble of Stirling bombers from Bexwell airfield have long been silent, the West Norfolk skies are home to three squadrons of Tornado’s from nearby RAF Marham. But apart from its aviation heritage, Marham is also home to another great Norfolk tradition, the Volunteer Reservist.
Formed on 1st March 1983, 2620 (County of Norfolk) Squadron today provides trained Reservists in support of the RAF Regiment’s operational commitments, providing Ground Defence of UK air assets at home and abroad. The Squadron is made up of personnel from all walks of life, from shop assistants, students and job seekers to builders and business managers, recruited from throughout Norfolk and beyond. However, the one thing they all have in common is their desire to give up some of their spare time to train with the Squadron.
No previous military experience is needed as all specialist training and kit is provided, starting with the basics that include General Service Knowledge, basic foot drill and weapon training, all vital elements of modern Service life. Later, Reservist Gunner training sees each individual tackle specialist skills including navigation, field-craft, tactics and of course weapon and pyrotechnic training. Squadron training takes place on Wednesday evenings and one weekend a month culminating with a two week camp each year allowing skills to be practised and consolidated in a variety of environments. As well as pay and travelling expenses, Reservists are rewarded for maintaining key trade skills and the completion of a minimum of 27 days a year with an annual tax-free bonus of up to £1,674.
In addition to equipping the Squadron’s Gunners with the Infantry skills necessary for their trade, Reservists also get to enjoy a variety of activities designed to stretch them in other ways. Adventurous Training is conducted annually and provides the opportunity for the Squadron to work in a less formal environment where the qualities of leadership, teamwork and self confidence are developed through challenging pursuits such as rock climbing, white water rafting, mountain biking and hill walking. The Squadron also runs an annual Staff Ride to one of the major battle fields in Europe, with on-site briefs covering key aspects of the chosen conflict from the importance of airpower to the conditions endured by ground forces.
In the last six months Reservists from the Squadron have fought their way through the forests of the Stanta Battle Area near Thetford, fired hundreds of live rounds on the South Coast ranges at Hythe and Lydd and conducted heli-bourn missions during a counter-insurgency exercise in Cyprus. But this is only part of the story. Each and every year the skills and training of 2620 Squadron Reservists are put to the test in support of the enduring commitments of the wider RAF. From the provision of specialist ground support on fast jet exercises, to the deployment of personnel on operational tours of duty to the Middle East; the role of Norfolk’s volunteer RAF Reservists is as strong today as it has ever been, with 2620 Squadron’s Gunners continuing to make a valuable contribution to the RAF at home and abroad.
To find out more about a career in the RAF Reserves, call 2620 Squadron on 0800 783 1915 or search for 2620 online.