RAF Winterbourne Gunner

Badge for RAF Winterbourne Gunner


RAF Winterbourne Gunner in Wiltshire is home to the Defence Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Centre, the centre of excellence for the CBRN defence training for the UK's Armed Services.  

The Centre provides CBRN technical support through all training phases and trials new equipment.

The Centre includes the Defence Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School with lecture theatres, classrooms, and a computer aided training suite. The Centre also has a specialised range, scenario based training facilities, and modern troop accommodation.

The Centre's Joint CBRN Medical Faculty provides CBRN medical training to all Medical Officers in the UK Armed Services as well as specialist medical training to UK and NATO/allied nations.

Around 60 Service personnel and civilians work at RAF Winterbourne Gunner.


Portrait of Wing Commander Paul Rait RAF Regt

Wing Commander Paul Rait RAF Regt

Wing Commander Rait joined the RAF in 1997 having served for three years as the last expat Inspector in the Royal Hong Kong Police. 

He previously served as SO2 Force Protection in the Deployed Operational Training team designing the operational training programme for Expeditionary Air Wings.

Wing Commander Rait attended the Advanced Command and Staff Course in 2013 as a newly promoted Wing Commander after three months as SO1 Counter CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) Capability Policy. He assumed Command of the Defence Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Centre on 5 August 2016.



Defence Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Centre, RAF Winterbourne Gunner, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP4 0ES. 

Council: Amesbury Council

Who's based here


  • 1917 - RAF Winterbourne Gunner opened as a satellite of Porton Down.
  • 1926 - Became the School of Chemical Warfare, separate from Porton Down.
  • 2010 - The last of the original buildings demolished and replaced by purpose-built facilities.


The Defence Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Centre site at Winterbourne Gunner was established in 1917 as a Trench Mortar Experimental Establishment under the administrative control of the War Department’s Experimental Ground at Porton Down.

Known as Porton South Camp, it served as troop accommodation, ammunition storage and as the trench mortar and artillery firing point.

In 1926 the Chemical Warfare School was formed; conducting training for officers and senior non-commissioned officers (SNCOs) and running courses and regular demonstrations for the Services’ staff colleges and other dignitaries.

In 1931 the Chemical Warfare School became the Anti-Gas Wing of the Small Arms School.  In 1939 it gained independent status as the Army Gas School, later  re-named the Army School of Chemical Warfare.

During 1947 and 1948 the School became a joint Army and Royal Air Force establishment, named the Joint School of Chemical Warfare, with the School also studying and teaching the defensive aspects of nuclear warfare. In 1957, the School was re-named as the Joint School of Nuclear and Chemical Ground Defence.

In January 1964 the unit became the Defence Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) School. In 1975 it became the Defence Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Centre. Following the 1987 Strategic Defence Review, the RAF assumed United Kingdom Nuclear, Biological and Chemical lead-service responsibility and in 1999 the Centre became a RAF administered unit within No 2 Group.

The replacement of the site’s World War One infrastructure was completed in 2005. To reflect the changed emphasis to defence against a wider asymmetric threat, the Centre changed its name to the Defence Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Centre (DCBRNC) in 2005.

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