RM Chivenor

Royal Marines Barracks Chivenor is a British military base used primarily by 3 Commando Brigade. It is situated on the northern shore of the River Taw estuary, adjacent to the South West Coast Path, on the north coast of Devon, England. The nearest towns are Barnstaple and Braunton.

RMB Chivenor
Near Braunton, Devon in England
View looking south over RMB Chivenor
Badge of the Royal Marines
RMB Chivenor
Location in Devon
Coordinates51°05′14″N 004°09′01″W
TypeMarines barracks
Area222 hectares
Site information
OwnerMinistry of Defence
Operator Royal Marines
Controlled byCommando Logistic Regiment
Site history
Built1940 (1940)
In use1940–1995 (Royal Air Force)
1995 – present (Royal Marines)
Garrison information
Lt Col David Nicholson RM
Lt Col Bob Baxendale RM
GarrisonCommando Logistic Regiment
24 Commando Regiment Royal Engineers

Originally a civil airfield opened in the 1930s, the site was taken over by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and was operational between May 1940 and 1995 when it was transferred to the Royal Marines.


RAF Chivenor

In February 1940 the Air Ministry constructed an aerodrome on the site of Chivenor farm near a civilian airfield. RAF Chivenor opened on 25 October 1940 within No. 17 Group, Coastal Command.[1] There were two units based there initially, No. 3 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit RAF[2] and No. 252 Squadron RAF, both operating Bristol Beaufighters, Bristol Blenheims and Bristol Beauforts.[3]

Originally a civil airfield opened in the 1930s, the site was taken over by the Royal Air Force (RAF) in May 1940 for use as a Coastal Command Station, and was known as RAF Chivenor. After World War II, the station was largely used for training, particularly weapons training. During the 1950s and 1960s, No. 229 Operational Conversion Unit (229 OCU) used Hawker Hunter aircraft for training. In 1974 229 OCU left for RAF Brawdy (where it was renamed as the Tactical Weapons Unit), with Chivenor placed into "care and maintenance" status for rebuilding, though No. 624 Volunteer Gliding Squadron (624 VGS) continued to fly from there.[4]

The RAF returned in 1981, with 2 Tactical Weapons Unit (2 TWU) and their BAE Hawks, moving in from RAF Lossiemouth. In 1992 2 TWU was renamed as 7 FTS before leaving in 1994 to merge with 4 FTS at RAF Valley, and the airfield was handed over to the RM.[5]

Transfer to Royal Marines

From 1 October 1995 onwards, the Royal Marines took control of the base, it being renamed Royal Marines Base Chivenor (RMB Chivenor) and is home to the Commando Logistics Regiment, Royal Marines[6] and 24 Commando Regiment Royal Engineers.[7]

The airfield is still an operational airfield used by the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and RAF as well as No. 624 Volunteer Gliding Squadron RAF (624 VGS) operating Grob Vigilant T1 motor gliders, providing flights for the Air Training Corps and Combined Cadet Force.[8]

Based units

Notable units base at RMB Chivnor.[6][7]

Royal Navy

Royal Marines (3 Commando Brigade)

  • Commando Logistic Regiment
    • Headquarters Squadron
    • Equipment Support Squadron
    • Landing Force Support Squadron
    • Logistic Support Squadron
    • Logistic Task Group
    • Medical Squadron

British Army

Royal Engineers (3 Commando Brigade)

  • 24 Commando Regiment
    • 54 Headquarters & Support Squadron
    • 56 Commando Field Squadron
    • 59 Commando Engineer Squadron
    • 131 Commando Squadron
    • 24 REME Workshop

Role and operations

Military vehicles use by 24 Commando Engineer Regiment, on display at RMB Chivenor at an open day

Commando Logistic Regiment

The Commando Logistic Regiment's role is to ensure the re-supply of ammunition, water, fuel and food, known as "combat supplies" to the ground forces, and to provide first-line medical care to any service person or civilian. It also provides specialist services to sustain the brigade's operation.[6]

24 Commando Regiment Royal Engineers

Formed in April 2008, 24 Commando Engineer Regiment is a unit of the British Army's Royal Engineers which supports 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines.[7]


A Better Defence Estate, published in November 2016, indicates that the Ministry of Defence will dispose of the RMB Chivenor by 2027.[9] However, in March 2017, the then Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon stated that no final decision had been taken.[10]

Following a concerted campaign to keep the base open and this resulting in a review, the Ministry of Defence announced in February 2019 that the base would stay open.[11]

RMB Chivenor in the media

On 21 November 2008 the BBC Top Gear series filmed segments near to Chivenor. In the segments the presenter Jeremy Clarkson takes part in a mock battle on the beach at Instow with around 30 marines from Chivenor and elsewhere.[12]

The Sea Kings from 22 squadron A-Flight at Chivenor took a starring role in Episode 6 of the National Geographic Channel documentary television series Sea Patrol UK, with B-Flight of 22 Squadron at AAC Wattisham alongside Royal Navy and Coastguard units.[13]

The 2011 BBC television series The Choir: Military Wives featured Chivenor. The programme documented choirmaster Gareth Malone forming a choir of wives and partners of Chivenor personnel deployed on active service in the Afghanistan War. In forming a choir, Malone aimed to raise the women's morale and raise their profile in the public perception.[14] The song Wherever You Are was recorded by the Military Wives Choir and was released as a single in December 2011, with proceeds going to the Royal British Legion and SSAFA Forces Help.[15]


  1. "RMB Chivenor". RAF. Archived from the original on 21 November 2016. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  2. "No 3 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  3. C.G.Jefford (1988). RAF Squadrons. UK Airlife Publishing. ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  4. "Air Cadet Aviation Relaunch". Ministry of Defence. 10 March 2016. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  5. "RAF 100: Soaring the skies at RAF Chivenor". North Devon Gazette. 29 March 2018. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  6. "Commando Logistic Regiment". Royal Navy. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  7. "24 Commando Engineer Regiment". British Army. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  8. "624 Volunteer Gliding Squadron". Archived from the original on 23 January 2009.
  9. "A Better Defence Estate" (PDF). GOV.UK. Ministry of Defence. 7 November 2016. p. 15.
  10. Smart, Matt (17 March 2017). "Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon: 'No final decisions' on RMB Chivenor closure". North Devon Gazette. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  11. "RMB Chivenor will NOT be closing, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson confirms". North Devon Gazette. 28 February 2019. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  12. "Top Gear takes on Marines - in a Fiesta". Western Morning News. 24 November 2008. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  13. "Sea Patrol UK". TV Buzer. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  14. "The Choir III: Military Wives". Gareth Malone official website. Archived from the original on 3 January 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  15. "Military Wives: Wherever You Are". Gareth Malone official website. Archived from the original on 27 April 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
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