The military first came to Blandford Camp in the 18th century when local volunteers used it as a training ground. In 1806 a Royal Navy Shutter Telegraph Station was built on the site now known as Telegraph Clump. This signal station was on the London to Plymouth route and was closed after the Napoleonic War, though the site remained occupied until 1825.
In November 1914 the Royal Naval Division established a base depot and training camp on the site and a German POW camp was set up alongside it.
The rapid building of the camp was something of an achievement, for all materials had to be brought in from elsewhere to Blandford Forum railway station and then by steam tractors and horses a further 3 miles to the camp. When it was finished it was in effect a small community with its own churches, hospital, canteens and railway line and station; eminently suited to become the Depot for the Royal Naval Division for the rest of the war.
Sub Lieutenant Rupert Brooke (1887-1915) was stationed here between November 1914 and February 1915 and it is thought that some of his best known sonnets were written here. It was from Blandford Camp that Brooke and the regiment were to leave for the Dardenelles. Brookes however was not to take part in that campaign as he contracted blood poisoning and died enroute.
The Royal Naval Division moved out in 1918 but was replaced by the Royal Air Force Record Office, Equipment and Personnel Depot and Discharge Centre.
In 1918 the influenza pandemic caused the deaths of several German prisoners held in Blandford P.O.W.Camp. Among those who died were four men whose bodies were buried with full military honours in the churchyard at Tarrant Rushton, a picturesque little village near the camp. Unfortunately, no record of the names of these men is held in any registers either by the Authorities or the Church. Thus the four plots are marked with wooden crosses with a metal cross centrally placed bearing the words "4 Unknown German Soldiers". A mystery of the war.
At the end of 1919 the camp was closed and both the wooden huts built for the Royal Naval Division and the camp's railway line were removed. All the hutted accommodation erected for the Royal Naval Division was demolished in 1920, some of the buildings being sold to nearby villages for use as village halls and the site returned to agricultural use.
In 1939 the camp was reactivated as a mobilisation and training centre for reservists called up to meet the threat from Nazi Germany. Later anti-aircraft units of the Royal Artillery also trained on the site and it became a Battle Training Camp.
In April 1944 the first of five US Army hospitals was established in the camp ready to receive the wounded from the invasion of Europe. These hospitals were closed after VE Day, having treated some 20,000 patients.
From 1946 until 1962 Blandford Camp was used to train National Servicemen by the Royal Artillery, the Royal Army Service Corps, REME and the Army Catering Corps. The camp was also used as a venue for motor cycle racing until the circuit was adjudged unsafe.
In 1960 the 30th Signal Regiment moved into the Camp to be followed in 1967 by the School of Signals which moved South after over 40 years in Catterick. The School (now the Royal School of Signals) was responsible for management and technical courses for Royal Signals Officers and Non-commissioned Officers. The School came to Blandford Camp in 1967 so that its students could take part in joint exercises with other Corps in the South of England and its engineering officers would be close to the centres of research and development.
Under the Government's 'Options for Change' initiatives of the early 1990's the face of Blandford Camp changed considerably. 30th Signal Regiment moved to Bramcote to make way in 1995 for Royal Signals soldier training to be moved from Catterick Camp. The Headquarters of the Corps also came to the site from London. Blandford Camp is now the home of Royal Signals.