NAAFI was created by the British Government in 1921 when the Expeditionary Force Canteens (EFC) and the Navy and Army Canteen Board (NACB) were combined to run the recreational establishments needed by the Armed Forces, and to sell goods to servicemen and their families.
NAAFI expanded its operation over the next 17 years, supporting military bases and deployments across the world, from Bermuda and Jamaica, to Singapore and China. At the outbreak of WWII NAAFI grew exponentially to support the troops on active service, with the number of employees rising from 8,000 to a peak of 110,000 and the number of trading outlets growing from 1,350 to nearly 10,000.
Post war, NAAFI rescaled its operations, closing canteens at a rate of 200 per week and the number of employees reducing to 65,000 by 1947. From the 1950’s onwards, NAAFI has supported the British Forces at home and abroad, including the conflicts in The Falklands, the two Gulf Wars and Afghanistan amongst many others. Today NAAFI operates in far fewer locations but is present in Germany, Gibraltar, Northern Ireland, Brunei, the South Atlantic Islands and on board HM Ships. With around 100 outlets, NAAFI still provides convenience and a ‘taste of home’ to our Forces and their families overseas.