The Drill Field
When Deal Barracks closed in 1996, the South Barracks Drill Field and Pavilion were purchased by Walmer Parish Council as a community asset. The Drill Field is used for a number of community activities, and is now the home of Deal and Betteshanger Rugby Football club.
You can now see the full extent of the South Barracks Drill Field and the line of buildings running along the rear of South Barracks. On the far side, to the left of the field, is a large building with a glass-roofed lantern. This was the South Barracks Gymnasium and the HQ of the Royal Marines Physical Training School. All Royal Marine recruits would undertake rigorous physical training in this building.
The Drill Field was acquired in 1896 and was large enough to accommodate very large parades, with officers often on horseback. It was also used for field drill, physical training and assault course sessions to develop strength and team work. For a short period of time in the more recent years of the Depot there was also a short range for weapons firing.
His Majesty King George V visited the Depot on 7th March 1918 and inspected the 4th Battalion Royal Marines in training. It was during this visit that the King directed that the senior squad under training at the Depot should henceforth be designated the King’s Squad.
He also directed that the best recruit in each King’s Squad should be awarded a King’s Badge, and be known as a King’s Badgeman with the badge to be worn throughout subsequent service. A similar award is made to the best all round Royal Marines Band Service musician or bugler (see The Prince’s Badge).
Above: King's Birthday Parade on the Drill Field in 1913
Trail Directions: Leave the Drill Field by the hedge gate to the left of the games court and turn left. Walk towards the junction of Dover Road. At the end of this wall you will pass the rooftops of the Barrack Master’s offices, stores and accommodation behind the wall.