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1989: Remembering the Deal bombing
On 22 September 1989 the IRA exploded a bomb weighing 15lb (6.8kg) at the Royal Marine School of Music in Deal, Kent.

Eleven young men, most of them teenagers, were killed and scores more were injured when the blast lifted the roof off the recreation centre at the barracks.

Despite advances in forensic science no-one was ever convicted of the attack which is commemorated every year with a special service.

Here is a selection of accounts sent in by those who remember that day.

I will never forget the day that our town was devastated by the IRA.

At the time I worked in Deal town centre. We all knew we had to be strong for those who had lost loved ones and in true Deal spirit thousands lined the streets seven days later when our brave bandsmen marched through the town, leaving spaces where the murdered lads would have been.

This parade is on video and still all these years later I watch the video with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.

I moved from Deal a number of years ago but still visit a few times a year to the town that will always be home for me and for the brave lads at the barracks on that day.
Sean White, England

I had left the RM School of Music 18 months earlier and was serving in Scotland at HMS Cochrane at Rosyth.

On that day I heard the news in a mini bus full of my colleagues while travelling in Northern Ireland.

That evening we were due to beat retreat onboard a ship in Belfast. The end of the ceremony was marked by a rendition of Sunset.

This was by far the hardest version of Sunset I was ever asked to play. Myself and many of my colleagues found it impossible to play continuously from the first to last note, our thoughts being elsewhere at that time.
Sid Bratley, Scotland

I was 13 at the time and lived in Deal.

I was taking my younger sister to school when we heard the explosion.

I remember the band being loud enough that both of us jumped back onto the pavement as we were crossing the road.

My school was not too far from the barracks and I remember seeing the smoke from my class all through the day.

My thoughts go out to the friends and families of the victims.
Chris Martin, UK

They were not solders, not ordinary solders, but Royal Marines, and worst of all they were bandsman who in time of war acted as a first aid teamand stretcher-bearers on the battlefield.

The death of the innocent. May they rest in peace but never be forgotten.
DJ Buckland, UK

At that time I was a serving member of the Royal Marines Band Service on tour with the Scotland band touring the schools in Northern Ireland.

I can remember vividly that day the events. We arrived at a school in a couple of mini buses.

The radio was on at that time and a news flash came on saying that there had been an explosion in Deal at the Royal Marines School of Music.

Because of the band service being so small everybody knew people.

Panic, fear and sorrow was then to follow. Grown men breaking down in tears. School teachers came up to us with there deepest sympathies. We did not want to play for the school children, but we did. All we wanted to do was go home back to our loved ones.

What I will never understand is why? We were the more probable target because we were in their country representing our government.

Why murder innocent musicians who were only sitting down drinking coffee, who joined to play music.

I still feel so bitter still after all these years that these murderers were never brought to justice.

I am still very proud to be a part of the Royal Marines Band Service. Life must go on.
James MacGregor, West Midlands, UK

I lived at Deal barracks for a short time before the bomb attack as the RAF liaison officer from nearby RAF Manston on the Isle of Thanet.

The RAF's fire training school was moving to Manston from Catterick and Deal was utilised as overflow accommodation.

I distinctly remember arriving for my three-month stint there to sniggers from my RM colleagues, as the only difference between me and the private security firm staff at the main-gate were the rank flashes on our RAF blue-grey uniforms!

Some weeks after my secondment, on the morning of the explosion, I was despatched back to Deal with a number of coaches to bring back some of the bandsmen to Manston for a meal.

The canteen was still cordoned off and a body was found while I was there, on a roof, some four hours after the explosion.

I was a 22-year-old junior officer at the time, but these guys were much younger and still suffering from shock. Most I spoke to had been in the changing rooms earlier and were undergoing marching practice when they saw the roof lift off and the building collapse with the force of the explosion.

As the next nearest military establishment we had a strong affiliation with the RM School of Music, even with the guys entertaining us in lederhosen at our mess Oktoberfest events.

Prayers and remembrance for all those guys, particularly today.
J Noble, UK (September 2003)

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Firemen at the bomb site, Deal barracks
Eleven young men were killed in the explosion


Bomb site at Deal barracks, 1989
The blast destroyed the recreation centre at the Royal Marine music school

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