Northern Ireland news

Service of remembrance to mark 30th anniversary of IRA bombing that killed Royal Marine musicians

A collapsed roof at the Royal Marine School of Music in Kent in 1989 after an IRA bomb tore apart the recreation centre killing 11 people. Picture by PA Wire

A SERVICE of remembrance will be held tomorrow to mark the 30th anniversary of an IRA bombing that claimed the lives of 11 Royal Marine musicians.

Families and friends of the victims will join survivors and former colleagues of those who died to mark the three decades that have passed since the atrocity.

It was at 8.22am on September 22, 1989 that a 15lb bomb planted by the IRA exploded in the recreational centre changing room at the Royal Marines School of Music building at Deal Barracks in Kent.

The attack killed 10 bandsmen instantly, with an 11th man passing away a month later from his injuries. More than 20 were also injured with many trapped in the rubble for hours after the explosion.

The blast destroyed the recreational centre, flattened a three-storey accommodation block and caused widespread damage to nearby civilian homes in the seaside town.

In a poignant show of support a week after the bombing, members of the Royal Marines School of Music marched through Deal and maintained gaps in their ranks to represent the positions of those killed or injured.

The IRA later claimed responsibility for the bombing, but no-one has ever been convicted over the deaths.

Writing on the Royal Navy website, Warrant Officer 1st Class Si Tripp, recalled the terrible events of the bombing ahead of the 30th anniversary.

"As a young 17-year-old trainee musician at the time, I was amongst the first on scene - helping to support the injured and clear rubble to get to buried casualties," he said.

"The training band had been on the parade ground at the time, only a few hundred yards away.

"I still remember it vividly - the shock, disbelief and chaos."

The barracks closed around seven years after the bombing with the school of music relocated to the Portsmouth Naval Base.

Every year a summer concert is held at the memorial bandstand built in memory of the bombing victims in Deal. Around 12,000 people attended this year's event on Walmer Green in July to remember those whose died in the seaside town blast.

A service of remembrance will be held tomorrow at 8.22am - the moment the explosion occurred - in the memorial garden close to the former blast site.

A brass group of trainees from today's Royal Marines School of Music will provide musical accompaniment and the roll of honour read aloud as a bugler sounds the Last Post to mark 30 years to the day of one of the darkest moments in the history of the Royal Marines.

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