Deal bombing victims remembered at ceremony on board HMS Queen Elizabeth

Topic: Fighting armsRoyal Marines

Eleven Royal Marines Bandsmen killed in an IRA bomb attack on Deal Barracks in 1989 have been remembered during a ceremony on board HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The service, conducted by the ship’s Padre, Chaplain Alastair Mansfield, was especially poignant, as 28 members of the Band of her Majesty’s Royal Marines Scotland, are currently embarked in the ship during the ‘WESTLANT 18’ deployment.

The service, held on the ship’s vast quarterdeck alongside in Norfolk, Virginia, was attended by sailors, airmen, Royal Marines and Bandsmen, all onboard as the ship prepares to conduct trials with F-35 Lightning fighter jets for the first time. They were joined by the Fleet Commander, Vice Admiral Ben Key CBE.

As a lone Royal Marines Band bugler played the Last Post, at 0822, exactly the time the 15-pound bomb ripped through the Royal Marines School of Music on September 22nd 1989, those gathered stood to remember the atrocity, still vivid in the minds of so many.

PO Stuart Harwood, an engineer serving on board HMS Queen Elizabeth was 11 at the time, living in Deal. By a quirk of fate, his father, also a Royal Marines Bandsman was not at work that day, but knew those who lost their lives, and the 21 injured. PO Harwood explained what the ceremony meant to him:

"This is the first time in my 11 years of service that I have attended a ceremony at sea, but every year on this day I remember those killed. I was getting ready for school on that day, when I heard the rumble as the bomb went off. It is particularly special being here on board HMS Queen Elizabeth, with the Band of her Majesty’s Royal Marines Scotland, for whom today is especially memorable".

Director of Music on board, Capt Matt Weites added:

"Every year's service is poignant, but today’s is particularly so, being held on board the future Fleet Flagship. It is part of history that we will never forget. Every year we take part in this service, it galvanises us to keep doing it, to keep the memory of those who died alive. It is particularly special as two of our former colleagues passed away recently, one of their funerals is today; Colour Sergeant Andy Waugh. This is an opportunity for us to remember all of those we have lost through the years."

The Band of her Majesty’s Royal Marines Scotland is entertaining audiences across the East Coast of the USA as HMS Queen Elizabeth, escort HMS Monmouth and embarked Merlin helicopter squadrons, 820 and 845 from RNAS Culdrose and RNAS Yeovilton prepare to conduct trials with F-35B Lightning Jets from the Integrated Test Force. It will be the first time a fast jet has flown from a Royal navy carrier in 8 years.

I was getting ready for school on that day, when I heard the rumble as the bomb went off.

Petty Officer Stuart Harwood