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March in Plymouth in support of 'Royal Marines 5'

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 29, 2012


Nearly 100 people sporting banners, berets and green ribbons took part in a protest march to show their support to five Royal Marines charged with murder.

Organised by ex-Devon and Dorset Infantry soldier Dave Saville, from Leigham, Plymouth, the march was also arranged to coincide with the Corp's anniversary.

Gathering at Devil's Point, in Stonehouse, Plymouth, yesterday morning, the protest march attracted around 90 people of all ages, who all said they were there because they felt the murder charges brought against the five marines were unjust.

Mr Saville said: "I set this march up to show the Government that how they are treating the lads in Afghanistan is wrong.

"I felt very strongly about it. We need to get the message across that we support our troops. We want the charges against the five Marines dropped and we also want our troops returned home."

A number of ex-servicemen attended the march, including several ex-Marines.

One of them, 68-year-old Derek Heape, said: "We have got to have faith and support the lads. We don't know the full details yet but I'm sure they were just doing their job.

"Unless you have actually been in that situation facing it you can't criticise them. I want them released."

As the march made its way from Devil's Point along Admiralty Road, into Admiralty Street, it came to a halt outside Stonehouse Barracks as Mr Saville shouted: "Three cheers for the Royal Marines. Hip, hip, hooray." The protesters then burst into 'Happy Birthday' to mark the Corp's anniversary before breaking into a round of applause and carrying on along the road, headed towards the Citadel.

Commander Dean Westlake, from Combined Ex-Forces South West, said: "We are marching to support the five Royal Marines who have been abandoned by their Government. I totally disagree with what's happening to them. It's disgusting.

"I hope this march wakes up the Government and shows them that we're not going to let them railroad the five Marines. The Government needs to give them the same support the Marines give them."

A number of dogs were taken on the march, some sporting green T-shirts with the words 'Free the Five Marines' emblazoned across the back.

The names of the five Marines have still not been released.

Identifying the commandos is said to be out of the Ministry of Defence's hands, as the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA) takes control of the case. The SPA is an independent body that takes a similar role to the Crown Prosecution Service would in a civilian court.

Because of the nature of the incident, the trial for the Marines will be carried out through a Court Martial – a military court.

The arrests occurred after footage was found on a serviceman's laptop when he was arrested in connection to a civilian matter.

3 Commando Brigade, of which the Marines are affiliated, served in Afghanistan between April and October 2011.

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