Since 1945, the Royal Marines have been Freemen of the town of Deal, giving them the right to march through the town with fixed bayonets, drums beating and colours flying. From time to time, to the delight of the local residents, they exercised this privilege. The pictures show the regiment on a march through the town to St. George's Church, where a simple service was held on the pavement outside.
For almost 100 years, the band had led the Deal Carnival through the town during Regatta Week, but this tradition ended after the bombing of the barracks by the IRA. Exactly one week after that terrible day, the entire personnel of the School of Music marched through the crowded streets as a gesture of defiance. Spaces were left in the ranks where the eleven men of the Staff Band would have normally marched.
The tradition of summer concerts on the bandstand was kept up until the end, with crowds of people bringing picnic suppers and sitting on the grass in the South Barracks to listen to a wide range of music.
The final farewell came on Thursday 21st March 1996 when, in pouring rain, around 6000 people crowded round the parade ground in front of the Sergeants' Mess to witness the Massed Bands beating the retreat. Thousands more lined the streets or watched from windows overlooking the barracks. At the end of the evening, the crowds followed the bands out of the South Barracks and down the Strand to the strains of "A Life on the Ocean Wave". Passing the bandstand, the order for "eyes right" was given. As they entered the East Barracks and the gates were locked behind them for ever, there was hardly a dry eye. It was a day the people of Deal will never forget - the fight to keep "our" Marines was lost.
The band still returns to Deal every summer to perform on the Memorial Bandstand before packed crowds as part of the Sunday afternoon concert season.