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Deal Barracks Bombing Anniversary

21/09/20

On the 22nd of September 1989 the IRA exploded a time bomb at 08.22 at the Royal Marine Depot, Deal, Kent. At that time the Deal Barracks was home to the Royal Marines School of Music.

The bomb took the lives of 11 Marines from the Royal Marines Band Service and injured a further 21. 

The blast levelled several buildings and caused extensive damage to the buildings surrounding, including civilian homes.

The terrifying blast from the 15lb of explosives tore through the base of the world’s most respected military band. 

Lt Col Jason Burcham, who is still serving in the Royal Marines Band Service, was 50ft from the explosion.

He said: “I was in a corridor after showering. Outside I could hear trainees on the parade ground playing the Aces High march – exactly when it ended, the bomb exploded.

“Glass came flying in and bits of ceiling were falling down. Me and another guy bundled each other towards a bathroom to get away from the blast.

“We were shouting ‘get out, get out’ and we bundled ourselves outside.

“My ears were ringing. Everything was grey dust. I saw Colour Sergeant Jay O’Neill, his legs trapped under the collapsed roof. He was sat bolt upright organising the rescue.

“Weeks later when we marched in Deal, with spaces left for those who were killed, Jay O’Neill was still in a wheelchair. But as we passed, he got to his feet, helped by the First Sea Lord and Commandant General.”

In the hours and days that followed theo world bore witness to the courage and unrelenting attitudes of the Royal Marines. Despite the undisputable act of terror that had taken their fellow bandsmen, they showed incredible strength and courage. 

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