Don P Gale 1948-2023
RM 22276
Served 1963-1972

Donald Philip Gale was born on Sunday 21st March 1948 in Christchurch Hampshire, before the town was transferred to the county of Dorset in 1974. Donald was raised along with his brothers Peter and Kenny. Young Donald was a pupil at Somerford County Secondary School in his hometown and gained his early musical and military experience spending two years with the Air Cadet Force, attaining the rank of Corporal… sadly, their mother Marjorie passed away in her late forties.

At fifteen years old, Don travelled to RM Deal to join the Royal Marines Band Service on 25th June 1963. His intake was 2/63 New Entry Squad and like many other squads travelled to Loch Ewe for outward bounds training and was in a class of Junior Buglers under the guidance of instructor Cpl Bugler John Ginty. At the time, Barham House, the bugler’s house which was named after the battleship that sank in November 1941, consisted of a total of thirty-one junior buglers in the wing.
Don boxed against Tufty Bryant in the Inter house championship in 1963, his first ever fight and Tufty knocked ten bells out of Don !.. The bout only lasted two rounds, due to a technical knockout (nosebleed). The blood was pouring from his nose, he exhaled and blew blood all over the referee’s white shirt.. the ref promptly cursed him and gave Don a thick ear! He did receive a runner up medal, although he had no real recollection. He then discovered Tufty had been an ABA champion several times! While still in training, he took part in the Beating Retreat in celebration of the Tercentenary of the Royal Marines in 1964. Amongst many other occasions during his service, he was selected for the front rank for Royal Tournament’s, the Edinburgh Tattoo and London Duties.

From April-July 1967, and for nearly three months, Don was attached as Unit Bugler to 43 Commando, whose base was at Stonehouse Barracks in Plymouth. He returned to RM Deal for eighteen months, during which time, he was assigned as ships bugler onboard the anti-submarine frigates HMS Grafton and HMS Duncan, in what were essentially recruitment campaigns. Don was married for the first time to Susan Running in 1967, with whom he had a son Tony, born on 30th May 1968. Don travelled to the West Country in September 1968 for a brief sojourn with the band at the Infantry Training Centre at Lympstone, before once again returning to Deal and Staff Band Corps of Drums. He gave three and half years’ service at the Depot before opting to leave the Royal Marines Band Service in April 1972.

Don began a second uniformed career in 1976 as a Constable with Kent Police. Soon after in November 1977, he married for a second time to Carol Challis at Deal Methodist Church, they met when he was introduced to her by Carol’s father a couple of years previously. Don went on to serve as a PC in Whitstable and Faversham. Amongst other roles, he was tasked with the position of rural Police Officer in Selling, a village and civil parish west of Canterbury, before moving on to be a Scene of Crime Officer in the city. A serious health scare was a warning to Don that carrying on wasn’t an option, due to stress and working conditions. Don retired from the force in 1993 following seventeen years service. Don then utilised his skills when he took up employment as a Planning investigation officer at Dover District Council, he was made redundant at one point before the council realised their error and requested that he returned to the role. Don retired from working in 2015 aged 68, allowing he and Carol to spend more time together at their home at Brindle Grove in Ramsgate.

Don kept himself busy, especially during his retirement, although he didn’t attend many matches, he was a lifelong supporter of Southampton. He had a great passion for motorcycles and was a model railway enthusiast and member of the Thanet Model Railway Society. He loved photography and collecting cameras, he enjoyed golf, gardening vegetables on his allotment and he loved his hours fishing with Alan Brooker and JC Puddle. Don gave up valuable time as a volunteer instructor with the Whitstable Sea Cadets and was lured by Alan to turn the clock back forty years and appear annually for the All Stars Corps of Drums. He was also a much-valued member of the backstage crew during the Sergeants Mess Pantomimes, which are held annually at the Astor Theatre in Deal. Don and Carol moved from Ramsgate to Walmer in late 2022, they enjoyed many holidays together and once owned a caravan, they also delighted in cruising to the United States and the Caribbean.

Don sadly passed away at home in Deal as a result of a heart attack on 13th August 2023 aged 75. He was a proud man.. proud of his time in the Royal Marines and the Police Force, he was a positive, cheerful and kind person… a real gentleman and highly respected by those that knew him. His funeral service was held on Friday 8th September at Barham Crematorium. Amongst his favourite music played during the service was ‘Flowers in the Forest’ and ‘Nessun dorma,’ and the Last Post & Reveille was sounded by Mick Scurfield. Family and friends gathered afterwards at the Deal RMA and donations were gratefully received on behalf of the RMA club.


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