The Permanent Joint Headquarters

The PJHQ, based in Northwood, commands joint and combined military operations and provides politically aware military advice to the MOD.

The Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) is an adaptable and agile HQ created to command Joint and Combined military operations, and provide politically aware military advice to the Ministry of Defence. It is at the forefront of work throughout British Defence to further improve joint operational capability.

The PJHQ was established in April 1996 to enhance the operational effectiveness and efficiency of UK-led joint, potentially joint and multi-national operations, and to exercise operational command of UK forces assigned to multinational operations led by others.

In career terms, we intend that the PJHQ should be the first choice for the most promising military and civilian staff to develop their skills in the best environment.

PJHQ organisation

The Chief of Joint Operations (CJO) heads PJHQ and is responsible for the planning and execution of UK-led joint, potentially joint and multinational operations, and for exercising operational command of UK Forces assigned to multinational operations led by others.

The appointment is rotational between the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force. The current incumbent is Lieutenant General David Capewell OBE.

The CJO’s mission statement:

CJO is to exercise operational command of UK forces assigned to overseas joint and combined operations; and to provide politically aware military advice to the MOD in order to achieve MOD UK’s strategic objectives on operations.”

CJO has a deputy, the Chief of Staff (Operations) (COS (Ops)). COS (Ops) is responsible for executing CJO’s primary role - the planning and execution of operations.

The rest of PJHQ is organised by divisions (numbered J1-J9). Each division is led by a senior officer or senior civil servant and is responsible for a particular area of capability.

The specific responsibilities of each division are:

  • J1 - Personnel
  • J2 - Operational Intelligence
  • J3 - Current Operations
  • J4 - Logistics/Medical
  • J5 - Crisis and deliberate planning
  • J6 - Communication and Information Systems
  • J8 - Finance and Human Resources
  • J9 - Policy, legal and media operations

The HQ has personnel from the 3 Services and the Civil Service. The HQ is responsible for directing, deploying, sustaining and recovering UK joint forces, however, there are certain areas that the HQ will not be involved.

These are:

  • strategic nuclear deterrent
  • defence of the UK home base
  • territorial waters and airspace
  • Northern Ireland
  • counter-terrorism in UK
  • NATO article V (general war)

CJO also commands the Joint Support Unit in Northwood. This small unit led by a Royal Air Force Group Captain who is responsible for supporting not only PJHQ but also Fleet and NATO personnel who also use the Northwood site.

PJHQ organisation command and control

PJHQ - The PJHQ’s primary function is the planning and execution of joint, potentially joint and UK-led multinational operations. The PJHQ also has embedded within it a dedicated Command Secretariat, which provides policy, legal, presentation and financial advice to CJO during an operation.

Through this close relationship between civilian and military personnel, PJHQ is able to give politically aware military advice to the MOD.

Joint Commander - CJO will normally be appointed as the Joint Commander, although Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) may appoint one of the operational Commanders-in-Chief (CINC) to act as a more senior Joint Commander if the operation is of a Large Scale.

In this case, CJO will act as the Deputy Joint commander whilst still retaining the mantle of Joint Commander for other operations.

Single-Service advice - The PJHQ has a number of dedicated single-Service appointments that work closely with their respective single-Service Operational Command HQs and have ready access to key members of staff and the single-Service deputies when required. This complements the advice given by MOD Directorates and allows full single-Service advice to be woven into coherent joint advice before submission to MOD Central Staff. Thus CDS and Ministers are provided with a fully balanced assessment on all aspects of a joint operation.

Supporting Commands - The 3 single-Service CINCs are responsible for providing forces for joint and multinational operations. These forces will be made available to CJO through the Joint Rapid Reaction Force which was established as a result of the 1998 Strategic Defence Review.

PJHQ organisation Joint Rapid Reaction Forces

The establishment of the Joint Rapid Reaction Forces (JRRF) was the most important Joint initiative in the 1998 Strategic Defence Review (SDR). The JRRF is a pool of highly capable units from all services that are maintained at high readiness for contingency operations.

CJO is responsible for the JRRF, although until deployed, OPCOM of the units is retained by the single-Service CINCs. Units within the JRRF are trained to Joint standards and are deployed in Joint force packages, tailored to meet the operational requirement. The pool is configured to mount operations up to medium scale warfighting and can be employed nationally or multinationally under NATO, EU, UN or other ad hoc coalition.

To command the JRRF a fully resourced Joint Task Force HQ (JTFHQ) is maintained at 48 hours notice to move. An initial JRRF capability was declared in April 1999 with the full capability being introduced in 2001.

PJHQ history

The need for a permanently established tri-service headquarters grew out of the increasingly unstable and uncertain post cold war world.

By the early nineties the hoped for ‘new world order’ had failed to materialise and the UK had already found itself embroiled in war in the middle east as well as a growing involvement in the increasing unstable Balkans.

Up until that point, responsibility for the planning and conduct of any UK-led or joint overseas operation had been handed to one of the single services.

In 1982 Operation CORPORATE in the South Atlantic (the operation to recover the Falkland Islands) was planned and controlled by Fleet and Strike took the lead for Op GRANBY (the liberation of Kuwait) in 1991.

The changing geopolitical scene and the prospect of more UK forces being deployed in theatres around the world was one of the main driving forces behind the Defence Costs Study (DCS) which recommended the creation of a Permanent Joint Headquarters.

The DCS highlighted a number of serious shortcomings in the handling of defence, not least the essentially ad hoc and reactive way in which operations were planned and conducted by the single services.

The establishment of a Joint Headquarters was driven therefore by the desire to enhance operational efficiency and effectiveness and achieve financial savings.

This was supported by a recognition of the need for a pro-active, permanently manned organisation that would ensure a smooth transition from the early planning stages of a potential deployment, through to the conduct of a joint operation, and subsequently the recovery of forces and adoption of lessons learned.

The then Secretary of State agreed the proposed delegation of functions related to the planning and conduct of operations from MOD Main Building to a new Joint Headquarters.

From its original inception it was understood that there was a need to establish a proper policy/execution divide with the Ministry of Defence handling the strategic policy, PJHQ focusing on the conduct of the operations and the Front Line Commands supporting and delivering the required military capability.

The location chosen for the establishment of this new headquarters was Northwood. The RAF who established Coastal Command Headquarters there in 1938 had originally purchased the 35-hectare site.

By 1996 when PJHQ was established, the Northwood base was also home to the Commander in Chief of Fleet and the NATO Commander Allied Maritime Component Command Naval Forces North who still remain.

The Headquarters was officially opened on 3 May 1996 by The Rt Hon Mr Michael Portillo MP, Secretary of State for Defence and was declared fully operational on 1 August of the same year.

The Headquarters was scaled originally to handle the five concurrent operations then running in addition to other business such as the command of the Permanent Joint Operating Bases. Since then PJHQ has grown as the number and tempo of operations has increased.

On 6 May 2010 Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, opened the new Joint Headquarters building at Northwood. Designed to accommodate 950 people, the new building will allow for the collocation of all PJHQ staff for the first time since its inception in 1996. The building also hosts a separate multinational headquarters which will permit multinational or EU-led operations to operate on site without the constraints of embedding non-UK national staff within PJHQ’s facilities.

Other organisations at the Northwood HQ.

Multinational Headquarters (MNHQ)

In order to meet the Chief of Defence Staff’s directive to provide the core of an Operational HQ (OHQ) and the core of a Force HQ (FHQ) for European Union-led military Crisis Management Operations (CMOs), a MNHQ facility has been developed at Northwood.

The facility is located in Bldg 410, in the same building as PJHQ, and part of it has already been activated to provide an OHQ for command of the EU-led Counter-Piracy operation (Op ATALANTA). The whole facility provides essential infrastructure for a multinational staff based around a PJHQ Key Nucleus and is provided with a direct secure communications link into Brussels.

Commander-in-Chief Fleet

The flag of the Commander in Chief Fleet has flown over the Northwood Headquarters since its transfer from the Portsmouth-based depot ship HMS TYNE in 1960 in the guise of CINC Home Fleet.

By 1971, this had grown to encompass CINCFLEET (Commander-in-Chief Fleet), and the RN (Royal Navy) took over responsibility for the whole site. The principal aim of the Commander in Chief is to prepare and operate the Fleet in both war and peace, delivering operational capability and providing maritime advice and services to other Government Departments.

To this end, he exercises full command of all the Royal Navy’s surface ships, submarines, aircraft, Fleet Auxiliaries and the Corps of Royal Marines - in total some 33,000 RN personnel and over 4,000 civilian staff.

In April 2002, as a result of the ‘Fleet First’ initiative, most of CINCFLEET staff moved to Portsmouth, and the Northwood site became the tri-Service establishment it now is.

CINCFLEET himself, and a residual core of staff, have remained at Northwood so that he can carry out his parallel NATO job of COMNAVNORTH (Commander Allied Naval Forces North).

ISS Representative Organisation mission (IRO)

“To understand the Customer and enable ISS to deliver to Defence priorities”

What is the IRO?

The IRO is critical to establishing a more effective and coherent route into Information Services and Systems (ISS) with the key component being the new, single ISS Representative (ISS Rep), whose main task is to establish a strong working relationship with ISS’s customers and reaching back into ISS on their behalf. The IRO is comprised of five Regions operating throughout the UK and overseas. IRO Region 5 is responsible for Northwood and overseas sites with the HQ element and local ISS Rep operating from the Northwood site.

What is the IRO responsible for at Northwood?

We are the ISS Customer facing component covering all customers at site level.

The IRO is charged with providing consistent and coherent Front Door services to ISS customers, through a series of customer-facing processes and procedures. The commitment of ISS to these processes is set out in its Customer Charter, which includes key targets.

The successful delivery of these Front Door services is dependant upon effective and close working relationships with ISS’s delivery teams and other business units supporting the activities necessary to meet customers’ needs and to inform and manage their expectations.

Alongside the Defence CIS Single Point of Contact (owning the relationship between ISS and its end users) and the Programmes group (owning the relationship with the Sponsor), the IRO owns the relationship between ISS and its customers.

ISS Internal Service Provider (ISP) Mission

“To deliver operational support providing the right services at the right time”

What does ISP do?

Deliver Support. The ISP is the in-house service delivery arm of Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Information Systems and Services (ISS). The primary focus of ISP is to provide support to military operations worldwide, involving the delivery and assurance of integrated information services to the front line and the business components of the Department.

ISP contributes to the delivery of customer-focussed Information Services to users worldwide. These services are provided on behalf of ISS Delivery Teams (DTs) who are the primary customers of ISP. The outputs of ISP include:

  • direct support to operations, e.g. the design, build, installation, commissioning and complex project management of bespoke military comms systems in Afghanistan and the Middle East

  • indirect support to operations, e.g. comms aspects support to strategic and tactical ISTAR systems such as Reaper which support live operations

  • support to CPM, e.g. project management of the Information & Communication Services (ICS) aspects of particularly complex major MOD accommodation / relocation projects, such as the Streamlining Accommodation Project and PRIDE (Programme to Rationalise and Integrate DIS Estate)

  • the provision of High Grade Messaging services, including transmission of operational orders and notification of casualties

  • support to Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) and UOT e.g. by working with the UOR / UOT centre of ISS to ensure Eng Ops / DSG / SAI and other elements of the ISP deliver the best support

  • provision of Site Coordinating Installation Design Authority (SCIDA), providing configuration control of site infrastructure

  • deployed System Support, e.g. support to Joint Operation Command System (JOCS), from PJHQ to operational theatres

  • maintaining an enterprise view of all networked hardware/software CIS elements and CIS gateways through the Exploiting the Baseline (EtB) capability

  • support to legacy IT, provision of unified IT hardware and audio-visual maintenance service through Single Source Maintenance Contract (SSM)

  • Head of Establishment Services, management of St. Vincent facility

Permanent Joint Operating Base (PJOB) - Cyprus

Contact details:

HQ British Forces Cyprus
British Forces Post Office 53
United Kingdom

British Forces Cyprus are predominantly located in the garrisons of Episkopi, Akrotiri and Dhekalia as a visible demonstration of the United Kingdom’s commitment and sovereignty over the Sovereign Base Areas. The administration of the Sovereign Base Areas is managed by a separate civil organisation, the Sovereign Base Area Administration, but also comes under the direction of Commander British Forces in his dual role as Administrator.

Contact details in Northwood:

J5 Plans,
Permanent Joint Headquarters
Northwood Command Centre

PJOB Diego Garcia

Contact details:

HQ British Forces
British Indian Ocean Territory
British Forces Post Office 485
United Kingdom

The very limited number of British military personnel located in the British Indian Ocean Territory are based exclusively on the island of Diego Garcia. Apart from providing a visible demonstration of United Kingdom sovereignty they conduct, on the behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a number of civil functions ranging from policing to customs and excise.

Contact details in Northwood

J5 Plans,
Permanent Joint Headquarters
Northwood Command Centre

PJOB - Gibraltar

Contact details:

HQ British Forces Gibraltar
British Forces Post Office 52
United Kingdom

British Forces Gibraltar are located in a variety of locations throughout Gibraltar as a visible demonstration of the United Kingdom’s sovereignty of Gibraltar with strong historical ties dictating the widespread nature of military facilities.

Significant military activities include the management and operation of Gibraltar’s only airfield, military port and command of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment.

Contact details at Northwood:

J5 Plans, Room 217
Permanent Joint Headquarters
Northwood Command Centre

Northwood Headquarters

Northwood Headquarters, the UK’s principal military HQ site is home to 5 Operational HQs Joint Forces Command HQ (including Permanent Joint Headquarters and the JFHQ), the Commander Naval Forces North (one of NATO’s three major Commanders) and Headquarters of Commander in Chief Fleet) and was almost completely rebuilt between 2006-11, resulting in a purpose-built HQ site for 2000 personnel. Northwood HQ is commanded by an OF5 who is responsible for providing all support services and for overseeing delivery of the PFI (Private Finance Initiative) Contract with Carillion PLC.

Northwood has seen much expansion over the past two decades and is still evolving. With the modern command, control and communications facilities installed here to allow both the Chief of Joint Operations to direct national operations world-wide and the Commander in Chief to direct Maritime Operations, Northwood is very much in the front line.

Eastbury Park Northwood was the home of the Headquarters of Coastal Command, Royal Air Force from 1939 to 1969. It was in fact the RAF who started going underground to build their Headquarters.

In 1953 the Headquarters of the NATO Commander-in-Chief Eastern Atlantic Area was established at Northwood. The Commander-in-Chief was also Commander-in-Chief Home Fleet who flew his flag in HMS TYNE at Portsmouth.

In 1960 CINC HOME FLEET moved to Northwood and in 1966 the NATO Channel Command (a post also held by CINC Home Fleet) moved to Northwood from Portsmouth. In April 1963 the Naval unit at Northwood was commissioned as HMS WARRIOR under the command of the then Captain of the Fleet.

In 1966 the command was established for a Commander in Command and in September 1971 the RN took over responsibility for the whole establishment. In 1978 the Flag Officer Submarines who is also Command Submarines Eastern Atlantic (COMSUBEASTLANT) moved from HMS DOLPHIN at Gosport to Northwood.

HMS WARRIOR was a self-accounting Fleet Establishment, under the command of the Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command. The base at Northwood now accommodates the National Commands of Fleet, the Permanent Joint Headquarters and the NATO Commands of East Atlantic, Submarines East Atlantic and Maritime Air East Atlantic.

In July 1994, as a part of the Defence Costs Study, it was decided to form a PJHQ at Northwood, to replace the previous approach whereby headquarters staffs were drawn together ad hoc in response to a developing crisis.

The primary role of the PJHQ, therefore, is to be responsible for the planning and execution of UK-led joint, potentially joint, combined and multi-national operations.

Station information

Information for visitors to the Northwood Headquarters and for those who may be posted or coming to work here - Address, Unit Personnel Office, Cash Office, Photography, Security, Passes, Use of Vehicles, Random Searches, JSU Travel Office and the Motor Transport Section.

Postal address

Name and Workplace or appropriate Mess
Northwood Headquarters
Sandy Lane

Help Desk

Telephone: 01923 957000

Unit Personnel Office (UPO)

Situated on the first floor of Mercury Building (Building 110) the UPO is a tri-service organization equipped to deal with all pay, leave, and personnel documentation matters.

All Service personnel are to report to the UPO at 0830 on the day of arrival at the Northwood Headquarters site. The UPO is open for business from 8:30 to 12:30, 13:15 to 17:00 (Mon - Thurs) and 08:30 to 12:30, 13:15 to 15:00 (Fri).

The Single Service Desks (UPO)

Royal Navy - Supervisor Ext 57806
Army - Supervisor Ext 57832
Royal Air Force - Supervisor Ext 57885

These desks can provide guidance/advice on all Single Service matters as well as tri-service matters relating to the Northwood Headquarters site, including such things as Female Personnel Advisers, Accommodation, Duty Travel, Stores Support, Duty Rosters, CO’s and Welfare Funds.

Cash Office

The Cash Office is situated in the Community Building (450B), Royal Navy and Army travel claims and expenses, imprest advances and other similar transactions are administered by a combined civilian and service staff.

The office is open for individual enquiries between 8:30 and 12:30 daily. RAF enquiries should be directed to the RAF desk in the UPO.


The taking of unauthorized photographs is strictly prohibited within the confines of the site.


The Northwood Headquarters Site is by its nature an iconic site and as such has a strict Control of Entry (CoE) policy, which all personnel including visitors and contractors are to adhere to. The CO, Northwood Headquarters is responsible for access control for the site; this responsibility is delegated to the Base Security Officer (BSyO), who exercises this control through the MOD Guard Service (MGS) and the Military Provost Guard Service (MPGS) personnel on duty.


To enter the establishment, all personnel must be in possession of a valid pass, as follows:

  • Military Personnel - Service/NATO ID Card
  • Dependants - Base Entry Pass/Sport & Social Pass
  • Civilian Employees - Base Entry Pass
  • Visitors - Must be signed in by a pass holder and are usually to be escorted
  • Passes can be obtained from the Pass Office which is in Building 450B. Authorization forms are required for non-Service personnel

Opening times

Mon-Fri: 0830-1700

Use of vehicles

All vehicles entering the establishment must have a valid pass. Service personnel and MOD employees can obtain a pass from the Pass Office in building 450B.

Visitors must sign for a temporary vehicle pass from the Visitors’ Centre. The relevant vehicle pass must be displayed at all times whilst in the base but must not be visible when outside the site.

Restriction on the number of vehicles allowed to park inside the site are imposed because of the shortage of parking spaces.

Random searches

At any time whilst entering, leaving or on the establishment you may be required to allow the MGS to search your baggage or vehicle. If you have any objection to this request, you should ask for the BSyO or the Duty Officer of the day.

Motor Transport Section

There is a Motor Transport (MT) section on site. Through them, all service local transport is coordinated. This includes pickups from local stations or airports for HQ staff and visitors where eligible.

There are only a few Service and Civilian drivers, so service is of necessity limited. Service self drive cars are also coordinated from this office, as are Service driving licences. Local taxis are only allowed as far as the main gate, but may be allocated for duty trips in extreme circumstances.

Enquiries, bookings or for further information please call the Northwood Helpdesk on 01923 957000.

How to find us

Directions to assist in arranging your journey to the Northwood HQ whether by train, bus, coach, air, bike or car.

The Transport Direct website provides a door-to-door journey planning tool to assist in arranging your journey to the Northwood HQ whether by train, bus, coach, air, bike or car travel and also offers live travel news, departure boards and a carbon emissions calculator.

By bus

The nearest bus stops are no more than 200 yards outside the main entrance of Northwood HQ on Sandy Lane. These bus stops are on the Arriva Shires Route 8 that links Leavesden and Abbots Langley - Watford - South Oxhey - Northwood. This service stops at Northwood tube station, Bushey railway station and Watford Junction main line railway and coach station. The Route operates at approximately 30-40 minute intervals.

For further route information please refer to the Arriva website

For Arriva timetable enquiries ring 0871 200 22 33

By Underground

Northwood Underground Station is on the Watford section of the Metropolitan Line. Trains between Aldgate, King’s Cross, Baker Street and Northwood run four times an hour and more frequently during peak times.

There is a shuttle bus service available to/from Moor Park Station, one stop further west from Northwood. Moor Park is served by faster trains from central London. Call the Northwood HQ Help Desk on 57000 for details regarding the use and timing of the Moor Park Shuttle.

First trains into London leave Northwood at approximately 05:50 (07:30 Sundays); last trains to Northwood leave Baker Street at approx 2359 (2345 Sundays).

For further information including live service updates and a journey planner, please go to the Transport for London (TfL) website.

For Underground enquiries ring 020 7222 1234.

By rail

Carpenders Park, the nearest National Rail (London Overground) station to Northwood (1 mile approx), is on the Euston to Watford line. With trains every 20 minutes, journeys take approximately 35 minutes.

Bushey National Rail (London Overground) station (3 miles), is also on the Euston to Watford line. With fast trains every 30 minutes, journeys take 15-20 minutes.

Watford Junction, the nearest mainline National Rail station (4.5 miles) is on the London and North Western Line. With trains every 15 minutes, journeys take 20 minutes.

Further information including a journey planner, ticket purchasing and service updates can be found on the National Rail website. For all National Rail enquiries ring 08457 48 49 50.


Diamonds Taxi 01923 820707 Chequers Taxi 020 8429 1015 Reachers Taxi 020 8420 1626 Ace Taxi 01923 829111

By Car

From M25 - Junction 16. Exit onto M40 East signposted London(W). Take first exit A412/A413. At bottom of slip road (traffic light controlled) turn left and at mini roundabout take first exit (effectively straight on).

Take right hand lane when approaching traffic lights (less than 1/4 mile). Turn right onto A412 signposted Denham and Watford. After 1/2 mile and just after passing under railway bridge turn right into Moorfield Road (signposted Harefield). Follow over canal to mini roundabout at T-junction.

Turn left towards Harefield (Harvil Road). Follow to crossroads in centre of Harefield. Turn right (Breakspear Road signposted Northwood). After 200 yds turn left into Northwood road (signposted Northwood). Follow for two miles to T-junction. Turn right and shortly first left signposted Northwood Headquarters (white sign with red surround). Follow Batchworth Lane for some two miles until it ends at a T-junction.

Turn right and Northwood Headquarters are approximately 400 yards on the right.

From M1 - Southbound Exit J5 (M1), off ramp - Traffic light with roundabout. 3rd Exit towards Watford/Bushey, or similarly Northwood from London, but 2nd exit.

Approx half mile roundabout (with single lane bypass (keep in left lane), either bypass or straight across. Approx half-mile roundabout - keep left and take filter left before roundabout.

Quarter mile roundabout straight across (large supermarket on right). Traffic lights at T-junction. Keep in left lane (All traffic turns left) Turn left with traffic and stay in left lane (Road forks). Traffic lights at fork, stay left (straight on, single lane). Once road goes back to 2 lanes (Approx 100 Meters), move to right lane.

Roundabout - Follow around to the right and take 2nd exit (You will see signs (White with red border) for Northwood HQ). You are now on the road direct to the HQ. 2 Sets of lights then approx 2 miles. The HQ Complex is at the crest of a long hill on the right hand side of the road.


Heathrow Airport is approximately 35 minutes’ drive from Northwood.

Flight Enquiries:

Heathrow Airport 0870 0000123 Gatwick Airport 0870 0002468 Luton Airport 01582 405100 Stanstead Airport 0870 0000303

Education and Resettlement

The Joint Headquarters is served by a Resettlement and Education Centre. The Centre facilitates access to a full range of educational and career development opportunities including GCSE and A Levels examinations. Advice on other educational and vocational qualifications can also be given. In many cases personnel may take advantage of the Standard and Enhanced Learning Credit Schemes to offset the cost of their education.

Education Centre

There is a fully equipped classroom, available for meetings and presentations, an Interactive Learning Facility with nine PCs and a reference and fiction library. Specific books may be ordered through the Centre from the Services’ Central Library.

The Interactive Learning Facility is available to all Service personnel, Civil Service and permanently based contractors, offering courses in personnel development and computer operating skills at all levels including ECDL (European Computer Driving LIcence). Bookings can be made via Ext 57898; 24 hours notice is preferred but short notice (20 mins) can usually be managed. The internet facility may be used for both education and resettlement activities as well as forces ‘E’ Bluey. The driving Matrix test can also be taken at the Facility; bookings via Ext 57898.


Resettlement interviews are conducted as requested and advice is available at any time. All those within 2 years of discharge should attend a formal resettlement interview with the Education Officer. These may be booked through the Assistant Education Officer ext 57825.


Education and Resettlement facilities exist solely for your benefit. Professional and career development is the key to keeping your skills current and transferable. Everybody leaves the Service eventually - make sure you are prepared.

Medical and Dental

The Medical and Dental Centre at Northwood Headquarters - Contact Numbers, Opening Times, Catchment Area and Other Services Available.

The Medical Centre

The Medical Centre is manned Mon to Fri during normal working hours. Out of hours cover is provided by HARMONI, a local GP co-operative. Further details of this are provided in the handbook provided by the Medical Centre. Telephone Numbers

Enquiries, Appointments, Duty Medic 57180 Pharmacy 57198 Dental Dept 57194 NHS Direct 08 45 46 47
Opening Times

Mon, Tue, Thu: 0800-1700 Wed: 0800-1330 Fri: 0800-1500 Catchment Area

Medical care is available to all Service personnel based at Northwood. The families and dependants of service personnel should register with a local NHS GP by accessing the services via the NHS web site in the external links area on the right.

Other Services Available

  • Pre-conceptual, ante- and post-natal care
  • Well Woman Clinic - family planning, cervical screening, HRT advice
  • Child Development Assessment/Immunisations
  • Travel/Vaccination Clinic
  • On-site pharmacy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Health Visitor
  • Dietician
  • Community Psychiatric Nurse
  • Minor Surgery/Wart Clinic
  • Health Promotion Programmes - Advice on stress, weight, smoking, alcohol.

Dental Department

Dental treatment is provided for Service personnel only, who should register on joining and leaving the Establishment. All personnel should have an annual dental examination where advice on treatment and the prevention of dental disease will be given. The dental hygienist can only provide treatment on the prescription of a dental officer. Families must register with a NHS dentist. A list of these is held in the Medical Centre.

Dental Centre Routines


08:30-09:00 Pain cases 09:00-12:30 Routine appointments 13:30-16:00 Routine appointments


08:30-09:00 Pain cases 09:00-12:30 Routine appointments 13:30-16:00 Pain cases

Phone ext 57194 for advice and routine appointments

Emergency treatment may be obtained by contacting the Dental Department as soon as any problem arises; out of working hours contact the Medical Centre who will contact the duty dentist. The dental officers take part in a duty roster with other Service Establishments therefore you may be asked to visit another Dental Centre for emergency treatment. When on leave, the nearest Service Establishment should be contacted for advice and treatment.

Families information

Information for families - Day Nursery, the HIVE, Joint Support Unit Special Features, Mums and Toddlers Group, Personnel and Families Services, Tri-Service Social Worker and Information Sources.

Day Nursery

Northwood Day Nursery is situated in the Joint Support Unit at Northwood Headquarters. The nursery was opened in March 2002, to offer parents professional day care for their children. To contact the Nursery phone 01923 957028.


The HIVE is an organisation that provides an important and valuable information service, within the context of the overall welfare provisions for members of the Armed Forces and their dependants.

Northwood HQ Special Features

Free financial advice is available from an Independent Financial Adviser on Wednesdays. A will writing service is also available. Free Legal advice available in the Community Centre every first and third Tuesday of the month. Advice is given by expert independent legal advisers at an initial meeting of up to 30 minutes on a free and no obligation basis. Responsibility for the advice remains with the legal advisor and not Northwood HQ.

Mums and Toddlers Group

Meet in the Community Centre Theatre on Tuesday and Thursday mornings (10:00-12:00) during term time. There are quality toys for babies and toddlers and organized craft activities. All are welcome. A small charge of £1 is levied to provide refreshments and maintain toy stocks.

Personnel and Families Services Tri-Service Social Worker

The Naval Personnel and Families Service (NPFS) provides a full time social worker at Northwood Headquarters, employed in a tri-service capacity. The primary role of the NPFS is to help Service personnel and their families cope with crisis and domestic difficulties by making available the specialised help that is needed be that of an emotional or practical nature.

The NPFS aims to provide high quality, non-discriminatory services in a timely and non-discriminatory manner. To access this service telephone the tri-service social worker on Ext 57811 (01923 957811) or visit the office in the Community Centre during the following times:

Monday - Friday 08:00-16:30 Outside these hours a Duty Worker can be contacted in cases of emergency via the Officer of the Watch HMS NELSON 02392 726159 / 02392 722712.


Information on what is happening on the site is published in Weekly Orders and on the Northwood Headquarters website. Both of these can be accessed on DII, the site-wide, but non-NATO IT system. The Northwood magazine is published monthly and contains a variety of information about events on site and in London.

Headquarters Chaplaincy

Chaplaincy to Northwood HQ is provided by local clergy whose details are below. There is also a staff chaplain in PJHQ J1 who is the SME for operational chaplaincy issues and has oversight of all chaplains deployed on PJHQ led operations.

St. Christopher’s Church is located adjacent to the Cafe and Shop and is open during office hours (09.00 - 16.30), offering a quiet and reflective space in the busy headquarters. It is also available for services, meetings, presentations and social occasions. To book please contact Chaplain’s P/A.

Contact details

Officiating Chaplain CE - 01923 957872 (mil ext 57872)
Officiating Chaplain RC - 01923 957872 (mil ext 57872)
PJHQ Staff Chaplain - 01923 957821 (mil ext 57821)
Chaplaincy Support Worker - 01923 957804 (mil ext 57804)
Chaplains' Clerk - 01923 957872 (mil ext 57872)
Services in the Chapel of St Christopher

Sundays - None - Local churches used 1st & 3rd Tuesdays - 1230 - Mass (RC) 2nd, 4th & 5th Tuesdays - 1230 - Holy Communion (CE)

History of the site

Northwood lies in an area once covered by vast forests, hunted and fought over by Romans and ancient Britons. The British tribe, the Belgar, who lived in this part of the country, distinguished themselves when, in 54 BC under Cassivellaunus, they almost defeated the Romans under Julius Caesar. Boudicca (Boadicea) is reputed to have died at Stanmore.

In Saxon times Offa, King of the Middle Saxons, entrusted the district to the Abbey of St Albans.

In Norman times, Northwood and Eastcote were hamlets within the manor of Ruislip and references to Northwode and Northwood have been found in old documents.

Not until 1854 did Northwood take on an identity of its own with the building of Holy Trinity Church. At this time only about 200 people lived in Northwood and their occupations were rural. Still a hamlet and a collection of farms on the edge of Rickmansworth, Pinner, Ruislip, Harefield and Watford parishes, it retained its rustic nature until the late 1890s.

The opening of Northwood station in 1887 began the process of gradual change into an urban residential area. In 1894, with the passing of the Local Government Act, people began to claim urban powers. Since then the population has grown rapidly to 80,000 due to the enormous expansion of London.

Local associations in history include that of the only English Pope, Nicholas Breakspear, with Harefield; Cardinal Wolsey and the Duke of Monmouth with Moor Park; Thomas Gray, who wrote Elegy in a Country Churchyard, with Stoke Poges; and Milton, who alternated between boredom and matrimonial strife at Chalfont St Giles.

Finally, it was recorded in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I that “Five Ruislipians and eight Uxbridge men with unknown malefactors to the number of a hundred, assembled themselves and played a certain unlawful game called football, by reason of which there arose a great affray, like to result in homicides and serious accidents.”

Eastbury Park Northwood was the home of The Headquarters of Coastal Command, Royal Air Force from 1939 to 1969 and is now the home of its successor HQ 3 Group.

It was in fact the RAF who started going underground to build their Headquarters. In 1953 the Headquarters of the NATO Commander-in-Chief Eastern Atlantic Area was established at Northwood. The Commander-in-Chief was also Commander-in-Chief Home Fleet who flew his flag in HMS TYNE at Portsmouth.

In 1960 CINC HOME FLEET moved to Northwood and in 1966 the NATO Channel Command (a post also held by CINC Home Fleet) moved to Northwood from Portsmouth. In April 1963 the Naval unit at Northwood was commissioned as HMS Warrior under the command of the then Captain of the Fleet.

In 1966 the command was established for a Commander in Command and in September 1971 the RN took over responsibility for the whole establishment. In 1978 the Flag Officer Submarines who is also COMSUBEASTLANT moved from HMS DOLPHIN at Gosport to Northwood.

HMS WARRIOR was a self-accounting Fleet Establishment, under the command of the Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command. The base at Northwood now accommodates the National Commands of Fleet, the Permanent Joint Headquarters, Flag Officer Submarines and 3 Group, and the NATO Commands of East Atlantic, Submarines East Atlantic and Maritime Air East Atlantic.

In July 1994, as a part of the Defence Costs Study, it was decided to form a Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) at Northwood, to replace the previous approach whereby headquarters staffs were drawn together ad hoc in response to a developing crisis.

The primary role of the PJHQ, therefore, is to be responsible for the planning and execution of UK-led joint, potentially joint, combined and multi-national operations.

Chateau de Madrid

The Officers’ Mess at RAF Northwood Coastal Command.

The Madrid Room in the present Officers’ Mess maintains the links with the former Chateau de Madrid which was the original Northwood Headquarters Officers’ Mess shown here which was destroyed by fire in 1969.

Built in 1858 for Lord Palmerston, the chateau dominated the large Eastbury Park Estate. For many years it was a girls’ school until 1920 when it became the Chateau de Madrid Country Club which had a somewhat dubious reputation and was allegedly one of the late HRH The Duke of Windsor’s haunts in the Edwardian era.

The chateau and adjoining land were purchased in 1938 by the Royal Air Force for use as Coastal Command Headquarters and the reputation of the chateau was salvaged!

Coastal Command Commemorative window

The Coastal Command Commemorative window was originally in the JHQ Building.

In the centre of the window stands the figure of a typical Coastal Command aircrew - pilots, navigators, signallers, radar operators, flight engineers or gunners all looked much the same although of many nationalities: Polish, Czechoslovakian, Dutch, Norwegian and United States squadrons joined forces in the maritime air battle in close and friendly partnership with the Australian, New Zealand, Canadian, South African and United Kingdom squadrons of Coastal Command.

They fought together as a band of brothers and had the same determination to seek out and destroy the enemy wherever he was to be found.

This particular aircrew symbolises their everyday task; he is dressed in his normal flying kit and is flashing his Aldis lamp the recognition signal of the day to the nearest corvette or destroyer guarding the convoy to be joined.

No signal was so welcome to those who sailed in the convoyed ships and the majority of threatened convoys were met day or night, irrespective of weather, throughout the war.

The central figure stands upon a pile of the weapons used in the anti-U-boat and anti-enemy shipping war - the depth charge, the torpedo and the bomb being the most prominent.

Below this are the convoys which were - in conjunction with the ships of the Royal and Allied Navies - the aircrews’ daily task to guard and here can be seen the signs of enemy activity and our counter-attacks.

In this lower part of the window is symbolised the hardest fought victory during which the men at sea and in the air fought with their various craft, the weapons, the fuel and the many scientific devices and instruments designed, fashioned or produced by the thousands of anonymous men and women working behind the scenes in many different countries.

It also symbolises the work of those who planned and directed the war at sea and co-ordinated the allied effort.

Above and beyond the central figure are two hands clasping the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force ensigns, typifying the marriage of these two great services for their triple task of finding the enemy, striking the enemy and protecting our ships.

Behind and framing the ensigns and dominating all the top of the window is the sun at dawn as seen by those thousands of aircrew who flew against the enemy over the vast expanse of sea of some ten million square miles and this will symbolise to many the relief felt by those upon the sea and in the air that another day had started and with God’s help our ships were a day nearer safety.

The badges of the subordinate formations of Coastal Command adorn the sides of the window, while the Command badge is in the place of honour at the top. Those formations without badges are shown at the base of the window below the words “Constant Endeavour” - the Coastal Command motto: never were such words so well chosen.

On either side of the motto the Blue and Red Ensigns are included to remind us of the heroic endurance of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the Merchant Navy and the fishing fleets. The badges of the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy flank the main window in the adjacent top side panels, thus completing the picture.

Coastal Command Commanders

A list of Coastal Commanders from April 1918 to April 1956.

No. 10 Group

  • April 1918 - Wing Commander A.W. Bigsworth, CMG, DSO, AFC

Air Officers Commanding Coastal Area

  • Sept 1919 - Air Vice-Marshal A.V. Vyvyan, CB, DSO
  • Sept 1924 - Air Vice-Marshal F.R. Scarlett, CB, DSO
  • May 1928 - Air Vice-Marshal C.L. Lambe, CB, CMG, DSO
  • Oct 1931 - Air Vice-Marshal R.H. Clark-Hall, CMG, DSO
  • Oct 1934 - Air Vice-Marshal A.M. Longmore, CB, DSO

Air Officers Commanding-in-Chief, Coastal Command

  • July 1936 - Air Marshal Sir Arthur M. Longmore, KCB, DSO
  • Aug 1936 - Air Marshal P.B. Joubert de la Ferte, CB, CMG, DSO
  • Aug 1937 - Air Marshal Sir Frederick W. Bowhill, KCB, CMG, DSO
  • June 1941 - Air Chief Marshal Sir Philip B. Joubert de la Ferte, KCB, CMG, DSO
  • Feb 1943 - Air Marshal J.C. Slessor, CB, DSO, MC
  • Jan 1944 - Air Chief Marshal Sir Sholto Douglas, KCB, MC, DFC
  • June 1945 - Air Marshal Sir Leonard H. Slatter, KBE, CB, DSC, DFC
  • Nov 1948 - Air Marshal J.W. Baker, CB, MC, DFC
  • Jan 1950 - Air Marshal C.R. Steele, CB, DFC
  • June 1951 - Air Marshal A.C. Stevens, CB
  • Nov 1953 - Air Marshal Sir John N. Boothman, KBE, CB, DFC, AFC
  • April 1956 - Air Marshal Sir Bryan V. Reynolds, KCB, CBE

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