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30 years since IRA bombing in Deal killed 11 people


The Barracks bombing in Deal changed Helen Clissold forever.

She used think tragedies happened to someone else.

But after her partner, musician Richard Fice, became one of the 11 victims, she realised she was as vulnerable as anybody else.

She explained: "It has changed me forever. I used to think 'why me', now I think 'why not me', as it has to happen to someone. I've become more realistic.

"You never get over it. I still miss him, I still love him and there is a part of me that still belongs to him."

Mrs Clissold and Mr Fice were both 22 when the bomb exploded.

They had been together for six-and-a-half years, having gone to the same school.

Richard Fice in his bandsman uniform with Helen Clissold
Richard Fice in his bandsman uniform with Helen Clissold

He had only arrived to his post in Deal on September 5, 1989.

She had just graduated from the University of London Goldsmith's College and on the day of the bombing was visiting her mother in Cardiff who had Stage 4 cancer.

Mrs Clissold first learned of the tragedies that stemmed from the terrorist attack through the afternoon news on television.

She said: "I watched the TV with my mother and at first I said: 'Oh, Rick's there'.

"I just thought he would ring but then something began to dawn on me and I telephoned the specially set up helpline.

"His father said: 'I'm so sorry, Richard's dead' and I started screaming uncontrollably" - Helen Clissold

"I was told because we were not married I had to ring his parents.

"So I spoke to his father and I could hear his voice cracking.

"He said: 'I'm so sorry, Richard's dead', and I started screaming uncontrollably."

Mrs Clissold had only spoken to Mr Fice at 10.30pm the night before when he told her he had a cold and was going to bed early.

She said: "We all went down the the Barracks after it happened and with me was Rick's identical twin brother Steve.

Royal Marines Msn Richard Fice was 22 when the IRA bomb at Deal Barracks killed him
Royal Marines Msn Richard Fice was 22 when the IRA bomb at Deal Barracks killed him

"When people saw him there they thought Rick had survived."

Mrs Clissold said Mr Fice was sitting on a sofa where the bomb was planted when it went off.

She said: "He was the first to die and the last to be found."

Mrs Clissold has since married and has two sons, aged 17 and 21, lives in Charlton, south London.

She is a musician and music teacher, specialising in the violin.

This picture of the aftermath of the IRA bomb was taken by Mike Pett
This picture of the aftermath of the IRA bomb was taken by Mike Pett

Her mother finally died of cancer in 1993.

Sunday marks the 30th anniversary of the bombing and Mrs Clissold will visit the memorial at Deal.

She goes there every September 22 to remember Mr Fice and finds comfort in meeting other bereaved relatives.

She explained: "They are the only ones who really understand. To other not involved this is just piece of history."

The tragedy has made Mrs Clissold worry deeply about her own sons.

She said: "When the go out and don't come home, then I ring and they don't answer the it makes me worry they may have been knifed or mugged."

The bombers were never caught and Mrs Clissold says: "In recent years I've got angrier.

"My eldest son will soon be 22, exactly Rick's age and Rick didn't get to have the life he should.

"I don't know if it would make any difference if the bombers were caught and convicted because Rick is still gone.

"I know it wasn't personal against Rick or me,they just wanted to kill anyone in the British Forces.

"But in doing so they caused a huge amount of grief."

A poignant service to mark the bombing took place yesterday.

Deal changed forever with the sound of a horrific explosion at 8.22am on Friday, September 22, 1989.

Meanwhile, calls were made for a fresh investigation to be launched ahead of the 30th anniversary of the bombing.

Read more: All the latest news from Deal

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