Jan/Feb 2020

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of RMA member Victor Penn, Musician on the 5th February 2020. On January 22nd the funeral of ‘Dusty’ Miller was held at Barham Crematorium – Dusty was the Deal RMA standard bearer for many years, a former trustee and a committee member. A guard of honour of servicemen and women who knew Dusty lined the approach road and entrance to the chapel. A number of standards were on display and WO1 Bugler Andrew Cornish played the Last Post and Reveille. After the service large numbers attended the RMA in Deal to raise a toast to him and acknowledge his dedication to the local branch.

January is the time of Pantomime in Deal and this year it was ‘Hairy Putter and the Pussy of Doom’ written and directed by Brian Short. The Sgts Mess Pantomimes were an annual feature of the barracks calendar, dating back to 1944 when it started to raise charitable funds. When the RM School of Music closed it left behind many former Royal Marines with time on their hands, and Brian agreed to resurrect the tradition and write a script for the first show ‘The Wizard who’s Odd’ (after he recalls rather a lot of port!).  Show after show has followed for the past eight years, with many months of planning going into each pantomime. This includes the writing of the script (often ignored by the cast as they adlib their way through performances), regular rehearsals at the Deal club and the creation of scenery, backdrops, musical score, costumes and make up – all supported by local RMA branch and club members. The show which also included a new contemporary Corps de Ballet routine, ran from the 8th – 18th January at the Deal Astor Theatre with all tickets sold out well in advance as always.  All proceeds of the shows go to charity, both those associated with the Royal Marines and charities who serve the local community. At the end of the last night the cast and all members of the crew were joined on stage by Lt Col Jason Burcham and CRSM Dave Mason, where Paul Richardson the Sgts Mess Pantomime Chairman presented a cheque to them for £10,000 for the Royal Marine Charity (picture attached). The eight pantomimes have raised over £192,000 which the Sgts Mess Pantomime committee has distributed to 122 organisations over the years - a truly remarkable achievement. A further presentation night was held at the RMA club on the 25th January for thirty local organisations to receive certificates and cheques from members of the cast.

A traditional Burns Lunch was held at the club on the 25th January with 31 branch and club members enjoying a three-course meal in the Gibraltar Room, cooked and served by the RMA club Stewardess and her staff. The ‘Address to the Haggis’ poem by Robert Burns was read by Graham Dear, with Piper Alex playing a variety of Scottish Pipe Music.

Representatives of the RMA also attended the ‘Operation Fuller’ Remembrance Service in February (widely known as the Channel Dash) at the memorial on Dover seafront. The Service remembers the day in 1942 when a Tri-Service operation was launched to intercept and destroy the well protected German battle fleet which was attempting to ‘dash’ up the channel from Brest to reach their home port in Germany. On completion of the event a buffet reception was held at the Royal Cinque Ports Yacht Club.

Tracie Thomas – RMA Committee