The Royal Marines School of Music building at Deal Barracks which was bombed in 1989
The Royal Marines School of Music building at Deal Barracks which was bombed in 1989
Ruth Dudley Edwards

By Ruth Dudley Edwards 

September 16 2019

The 11 young men of the renowned Royal Marines Band Service who were massacred by the bomb planted at Deal Barracks on September 22, 1989 were not soldiers. Their training was in saving lives as medical orderlies, ambulance drivers and specialists in chemical decontamination, but primarily they were dedicated musicians.

They will be remembered this weekend in Deal with events that include a family fun day on Saturday to raise money for the Deal Memorial Bandstand Trust and, on Sunday, a morning service and a bandstand concert.

The Royal Marines School of Music that was devastated by the 15lb time bomb is no longer based in Deal but, faithfully, every year, the band comes from Portsmouth to pay respects to dead and injured comrades and thank the people of Deal for their continued support.

There will be grieving parents, widows , fiancees, children and friends there too and thousands of local people remembering that terrible day when hatred ruined many lives.

Some of the 21 seriously injured will be there as well and there will be reminiscences about the band parade that took place one week after the bombing, with gaps maintained in the ranks to mark the positions of those who had been murdered or incapacitated.

The Memorial Bandstand is dedicated to those “who only ever wanted to play music”, and each of the dead is remembered with an engraved tablet.

There is little in the public record about those men at the beginning of their lives, but they will be remembered by those who loved them, and honoured by thousands.

There is Mick Ball (24), a car enthusiast and a flautist who also played the saxophone and piccolo.

Witty John Andrew Cleatheroe (25), who had been in the band since he was 16, was its violin soloist but also a saxophonist.

Trevor Davies (39) was a trombonist, band corporal, and father of four.

At the funeral of Richard George Fice (22) in his native Cardiff, a close friend played trombone solo as a tribute.

Richard Mark Jones (27) was a flautist.

David McMillan (26) was a tuba player and had been one of those who sounded the fanfare trumpet at the wedding of Prince Andrew and the Duchess of York.

Violinist Chris Nolan (21) survived until October 18.

Dean Patric Pavey (31), an all-round sportsman, was a bassoonist, band corporal and father of two, one of whom was suffering from leukaemia.

Mark Petch (26) was a flautist, piccolo player and saxophonist, and, like Jones, McMillan and Pavey, was based in the married quarters.

Tim Reeves (24), clarinettist and violinist, had recently become engaged.

The favourite instruments of Robert (Bob) Simmons (34) were the clarinet, violin, and jazz piano.

At a service a few days after the murders, a Royal Navy chaplain told the congregation: “If you can find it in your hearts, we have come to pray for the men who perpetrated this terrible act, that God will soften their hearts and turn them from their violent evil ways.”

It would have been a lot easier for the bereaved had the IRA been repentant and had anyone been charged with the murders.

There is evidence linking the Deal bombing to a large arms find in Pembrokeshire that winter that led the police to the Provisional IRA’s Damien McComb and Liam O’Dhuibhir. These “ruthless, dangerous, merciless men intent on carnage” – according to the judge – were convicted in 1990 of planning a bombing campaign in England and sentenced to 30 years in jail – of which, because of the Good Friday Agreement, they served only a third.

There are allegations that the police did not pursue the connection, and that the case is lying dormant with Kent police showing no interest.

Any bereaved relatives or survivors of the Deal bomb who need advice about this or any other problems related to the atrocity would greatly benefit from getting in touch with SEFF (South East Fermanagh Foundation), which represents innocent victims and survivors of terrorism in the Republic as well as Northern Ireland and has an increasingly strong presence in England.

Ken Funston, one of the foundation’s fine team of victims’ advocates, who knows a great deal about the terrible Deal murders, will be in Deal on Sunday offering moral and practical support.

Belfast Telegraph –

Welcoming the New Advocacy for Innocent Victims Team

Advocates 1.jpg
The New Advocacy for Innocent Victims (AfIV) Team. From left to right: Ann Travers (Support worker Mid-Ulster Region with outreach into RoI cases)
Wendy Stewart (Support worker Fermanagh/West Region with outreach into RoI cases)
Rev Alan Irwin (Chair of SEFF’s Advocacy Service Oversight committee)
Ken Fusnton (Advocacy Service Manager)
Peter Murtagh (Support worker with Greater Belfast and South Down Region)

Kenny Donaldson, Director of Services at Lisnaskea-based South East Fermanagh Foundation explains the role of SEFF’s Advocacy Service – AfIV Project (Advocacy for Innocent Victims)

Mr Donaldson stated: “SEFF has secured well in excess of £1million for the next 4 year period from Peace IV administered via The Victims and Survivors Service to provide an Advocacy support service to families and individuals who are the innocent victims and survivors of Terrorism and ‘other Troubles related criminal violence.’

“The service will support those who seek justice, truth and accountability for crimes committed over the years of ‘The Troubles.’ The Service will have a remit to support victims/survivors across Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Great Britain”.

“In Ken Funston, Ann Travers, Peter Murtagh and Wendy Stewart we have assembled an excellent team who together will provide support to a constituency of victims/survivors who have not previously been supported in this way”.

“SEFF will work with individual victims/survivors with the overall objective being; supporting families and individuals to reach a point where they are able to live life as opposed to merely existing”.

“In August we hope to have in place a Support worker who will be based in central London in office base we have acquired. This development is significant for two reasons, we wish to ensure that GB-based victims/survivors have equality of access to Advocacy services and it is also essential that we have a presence at the heart of decision making for our Nation, we must bring the message of innocent victims/survivors of terrorism directly to our National policymakers and opinion formers”.

“SEFF stands against the attempted rewrite of our history and through this service and other initiatives within the organisation we will be doing our best to ensure that right prevails, those who seek to diminish the activities and legacy of terrorism will not succeed,” concluded Mr Donaldson.