Opened in August 1916 close to the former Royal Naval Air Station Narborough, later RAF Narborough, the Marham base was originally a military night landing ground on an 80-acre (320,000 m2) site within the boundary of the present day RAF Marham. In 1916, the aerodrome was handed over to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). Throughout the First World War, Marham’s role was focused on defending Norfolk from Zeppelin raids
In the first half of 1935, work started on a new airfield which became active on 1 April 1937, with a resident heavy bomber unit from within No. 3 Group, RAF Bomber Command.
The first squadron, No. 38, arrived on 5 May 1937 with Fairey Hendon bombers. In June, No. 115 Squadron re-formed at Marham with the Handley Page Harrow, initially sharing No. 38 Squadron’s Hendons until Harrow deliveries were completed in August. No. 38 Squadron received Vickers Wellington Mk. I bombers in December 1938, followed in April 1939 by No. 115 Squadron. No. 218 Squadron moved to Marham on 27 Nov 1940, also operating Wellingtons. No. 218 Squadron began conversion to the Short Stirling in December 1941 and used the type on operations from 1942. De Havilland Mosquitos from No. 105 Squadron also arrived in 1941.
During March 1944, RAF Marham closed for the construction of new concrete runways, perimeter track, and dispersal areas, marking the end of its wartime operations. The three new runways were of the familiar wartime triangular pattern, but Marham was one of only two sites built as a heavy bomber airfield (the other was nearby RAF Sculthorpe) with the runways substantially longer than the standard layout.
A Tornado and Victor, both previously stationed at RAF Marham, form Gate Guardians at the site today.
In the 1950s, the airfield was home to RAF units operating the English Electric Canberra, and later the V-bomber force and tankers: Vickers Valiant and Handley Page Victor. The station is also one of the few large enough for the operation of United States Air Force Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, and a number of these aircraft visited on exercises in the 1970s and 1980s.
RAF Marhams’s badge, awarded in October 1957 when it was home to part of the RAF V-Force, features a blue coloured bull with its head lowered and facing towards the viewer.
The bull, an animal considered to be aggressive to intruders entering its area, represented Marham’s nuclear deterrence role.
Another overhead image shows resurfacing work underway as part of RAF Marham’s recent upgrade to accept the F35B Lightning fighters. Still clearly visible are the four QRA stands which were used by V-Force aircraft during the height of Cold War tensions.