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Marines set to remember musicians killed in 1989 IRA bombing

An aerial view of the wrecked Royal Marines School of Music building at the Deal Barracks in Kent in 1989
An aerial view of the wrecked Royal Marines School of Music building at the Deal Barracks in Kent in 1989

By Michael Drummond

Royal Marines musicians will return to Kent next weekend - 30 years to the day after one of the darkest moments in their history.

On September 22, 1989, an IRA bomb exploded in the seaside town of Deal, killing 11 people and injuring another 11.

It went off in the Coffee Boat rest area of the Staff Band at the Royal Marines School of Music.

A 17-year-old trainee musician was one of the first on the scene. Now a Warrant Officer 1st Class, Si Tripp will return to Deal to remember those who died and pay tribute to the locals who came out in force to support them.

He said: "As a 17-year-old trainee musician, I was among the first on scene helping to support the injured and clear rubble to get to buried casualties.

"The Training Band had been on the parade ground, only a few hundred yards away. I still remember it vividly - the shock, disbelief and chaos."

He said the response from Deal residents was "truly heartwarming", recalling when musicians were queuing at the barracks payphone to reassure loved ones they were safe, locals opened their doors and allowed them to use their house phones, and gave the bandsmen reassuring hugs.

"The whole unit demonstrated their unbreakable spirit, courage and pride in the local community's support by parading through the town a week after the horrific event, leaving holes in the band for those who lost their lives.

"The townsfolk came out in force lining the streets in tribute."

The barracks closed seven years later, but the Band Service vowed to return to Deal each year for a summer concert at the bandstand built in memory of the bombing victims.

The ceremony will be attended by the families and friends of those killed, with a brass group of trainees from today's Royal Marines School of Music providing musical accompaniment.

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