The Douglas Morris Award is presented to a member of the Society who has contributed to furthering its aims through exceptional service, or by dedicated research and publishing related articles. The chosen recipient could be selected for outstanding service to the Society in any one of these three criteria.
For 2018, the Council of the Royal Marines Historical Society unanimously voted that its 2018 Douglas Morris Award should be presented to Mr Bill Butler for his drive and determination in conceiving and creating the Royal Marines Heritage Trail in Deal.
Bill energetically created a charity and obtained Heritage Lottery and other funding to support his project. Furthermore he has developed an informative website and produced a comprehensive guide that was sent out to all members with the last newsletter. The booklet is rich in historical facts describing the involvement of the Corps in Deal from 1665 to 1996 when the Royal Marines Band Service finally left the barracks and relocated to Portsmouth. The trail starts at Deal castle and passes through the former East, North and South Barracks with the guide highlighting key facts as the tour progresses including, of course, the Memorial Garden commemorating the site of the bomb planted by the IRA that tragically killed 11 Royal Marines Bandsmen in 1989.
On Monday 23rd April this year – appropriately the Zeebrugge Day centenary as it was in Deal that the 4th Battalion formed and trained before that memorable operation – the Trail was launched at Deal Castle by its Captain, the Commandant General, in the presence of the Lord Lieutenant of Kent, and the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, Admiral of the Fleet the Lord Boyce. The ceremony included a parade from the former South Barracks to Deal Castle by the Band of HM Royal Marines Collingwood, a guard from 42 Commando RM and detachments from the Royal Marines Association, Royal British Legion, Cadets and former WRNS. Following the launch ceremony, the Royal Marines continued to exercise their right to march through the town to Deal Town Hall.
Bill Butler is to be congratulated for his initiative and tenacity in bringing, with his team, this important historical project to an extremely successful conclusion and in so doing continued to sustain the close relationship between the Corps and the town of Deal.