This is the third and last in the series.
The first home of the Royal Marines in Kent was established at Chatham in 1755. Because of its proximity to the continent and the fact that it possessed a thriving naval dockyard, Deal has been closely associated with the corps ever since its foundation. Records from the old Navy yard at Deal exist from 1658 and show that Marines from Chatham and Woolwich were on duty in Deal, and quartered in the town, until the Deal depot was established in 1861.
Deal Barracks has become known over its long history as the Royal Marine School of Music, the barracks at Walmer consisting of the North, East and South (or Cavalry) barracks, and all were constructed shortly after the outbreak of the French revolution.
Part of the South barracks was used from 1815 as the quarters for the ‘blockade men’, drafted against a threat of local smuggling. The South barracks became a coastguard station thereafter, and this duty continued until 1840.
It was the East barracks which accommodated the School of Music, until the Royal Naval School of Music was formed at Plymouth in 1903, but which moved to Deal in 1930, replacing the original depot band formed in 1891. Thus the institution became known as the Royal Marine School of Music in 1950.
During 1940, at St. Margaret’s Bay, close to Deal, the Royal Marines Siege Regiment came into being and manned cross-channel guns for most of the remainder of the war.
At approximately 8.20am on the 22nd of September 1989, the Royal Marines School of Music was bombed by the IRA, this resulted in the death of 11 bandsmen including musician Robert Simmonds and the injury of 22 other marines. The memorial garden is situated in the grounds of the old barracks where the bomb went off. This was built in remembrance of the 11 that died and was then restored after an arson attack a number of years ago. Every year the families and friends of those that died join together at the garden to pay their respects and lay flowers in a memorial service.
On the evening of March 26, 1996, the Deal populace were privy to a special ceremony, the ‘beating of the retreat’, coming from the South barracks, as the Marines were commanded to vacate their ancient Kent depot and move to new quarters at Portsmouth. The Marines every year come up to the bandstand and put on a display which attracts well over 4000 people.
I am very proud to say that my youngest son was a Royal Marine Commando for eight years.
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