Gary JA ‘Spandau’ Clark 1965-2020
Gary was born in Watford on 2nd January 1965 to parents Reg and Toni, the family moved to Stevenage shortly after where they spent the next few years until 1975, when they relocated across country to Somerset, he was raised along with his brother Glen and sisters Gina and Deena. The brothers were members of the Army Cadet Force and also reluctantly but encouraged by their mother they enrolled as choir boys at their local church. His love for music was born out of his father’s passion for all types of music which was constantly played at home.
Gary joined the Band Service on 7th September 1981, the trainees were issued with rail warrants to initially get to Deal, but there was a train strike so they all had to report to their local careers office for transportation by pussers bus!.. he finally arrived and became a brother of 2/81 Troop. On completion of their initial sixteen-week training... the first extended basics for any troop, Gary spent two and half years studying the tenor saxophone and reluctantly the violin under the tutelage of Frank ‘Wiggy’ Bennett. He was also a keen sportsman, representing the corps at cross-country and volleyball. Calling him Gary ceased when his saxophone class nicknamed him due to his resemblance with Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet. During a run ashore.. Spandau and fellow trooper Paul ‘Chalky’ Castledine paid a visit to Painless Jeff’s so they could get an eye tattooed on each of their buttocks... £7 per eye per cheek!
Following training in 1984, Musician Clark was drafted to the Royal Marines Band Commando Training Centre (CTCRM), under the baton of Lt Richard Waterer, soon after he returned to Deal for two-weeks of rehearsals prior to performing at the Royal Tournament. His stay at CTC was fairly brief as he was afforded an opportunity of a lifetime that would see him replace Musician Steve Savage as tenor saxophonist and violin holder in the Royal Marines Band Flag Officer Third Flotilla (FOF3), the smallest Royal Marines Band of just twenty-three ranks. He ultimately spent two and half years travelling around the world, firstly under the leadership of WO2 Bandmaster Alick Harwood. Gary’s adventure began in early September 1984 with a trip to Belgium on HMS Glamorgan, he then boarded HMS Fearless for what was to become the first of three Mediterranean adventures. Following Christmas leave it was back on the Fearless for the first of his three excursions to the Caribbean. Spandau and the lads in the band had three tan-topping weeks at sea before setting foot in Barbados.. also on the run ashore list was Martinique, Tortola, Puerto Rico and Mayport. Their next jaunt was onboard HMS Illustrious for the East Coast of United States deployment where they enjoyed Philadelphia, New York, Norfolk and Portsmouth VA. It was back onboard HMS Intrepid for a few weeks, however the ship broke down in Gibraltar.. resulting in the band being marooned in the port for seventeen days, before the trip resumed with stops at Cadiz and Lisbon.
In 1986, the band returned to HMS Nelson following Christmas leave in readiness for another two-month deployment to the Caribbean. HMS Invincible accommodated the band on the voyage, beginning on a cold January morning in Portsmouth, bound for a blisteringly hot Barbados. With only two helicopters onboard, Span was able to take his sunbed and baby oil onto the flight deck more frequently to prepare for the extreme heat that was to come, including a banyan on the island of Carriacou in the Grenadines, Antigua, where the band and the England Cricket Team socialised together in various bars, then onto Fort Lauderdale. Four days station leave was enjoyed in Orlando, before sailing on to Nassau in the Bahamas.
The band was due to depart on a nine-month deployment onboard HMS Illustrious entitled ‘Global 86’, but it was thrown into serious doubt when the ship suffered a catastrophic fire... Following an extended period of leave, the band returned to prepare instead for a replacement trip.. a return to the islands of the Caribbean onboard HMS Intrepid. The itinerary began with a return to Barbados, then onto Puerto Rico and Mayport, which included five days leave that many of the lads including Spandau once again spent in Orlando, before the final call at Boston. Meanwhile, HMS Illustrious had been rapidly repaired and plans were finalised for FOF3 Band to embark on her for the second half of ‘Global 86’.. arguably their most enjoyable trip and a first time the band had ventured to the Far East. FOF3 Band sailed on the packed out Lusty via Gibraltar and the Suez Canal, arriving four-weeks later in Singapore where they transferred to the relative luxury of RFA Fort Grange. The band were detailed to run the crew bar, sunbathe as much as possible on the fo'c'sle and to provide armed piracy patrols on Fort Grange during the dark hours of the ships’ passage through the Malacca Straits enroute to Port Kelang in Malaysia. The band was a small unit, so it was imperative that everyone got on well, Spandau became run ashore buddies with Chalky, Paul ‘Loony’ Brennan and Mickey Barham, but particularly with Daryl ‘Jess’ James, to the extent of being labelled the ‘Siamese twins’! The task group then sailed to Brisbane for five days, then onto Sydney for the Royal Australian Navy’s 75th Anniversary Fleet Review. The band then flew across to Freemantle, where they spent a further two-weeks before transferring back to the Illustrious and on to Bombay, prior to a final visit to Gibraltar. FOF3 Band’s fate had been decided and an announcement was made that the last sea-going Royal Marines Band was to be disbanded. HMS Intrepid provided the accommodation for their final ever trip.. to the Mediterranean. Gaz was only twenty-two years old and had already travelled more than most people do in a lifetime.. and loved every minute of it. On March 25th 1987, FOF3 Band gave one final performance.. a Concert at Portsmouth Guildhall, prior to disbandment. Spandau then joined Royal Marines Band Flag Officer Plymouth, under the direction of Lieutenant John Perkins. He featured in ‘Beating Retreat on Horseguards Parade in June 1988’.
Musician Clark applied for Premature Voluntary Release (PVR) and left the Band Service in September 1988 to take up a career as a Policeman with Kent Police. The following year, Gary tied the knot with Cathy Lucas who he met at HMS Raleigh, they became parents to Tom in 1992 and Harry in 1994. PC Clark was promoted to Police Sergeant in August 1995. While working full time as a Police Constable, Gary studied at Canterbury Christ Church University for a Bachelor of Science in Policing between 1998-2000, he took his Inspectors exams on 9th September 2001.. the day of the attack on the Twin Towers.. his graduation ceremony took place in Canterbury Cathedral.
In December 2005, an officer was confronted by a man with a large knife who cut his own throat causing severe injury. The man was rugby-tackled, knocking him to the ground and the knife from his hand. Police Sergeant Clark began plugging the holes from which the blood was flowing and didn’t stop until the ambulance arrived at the hospital. Due to Gary’s considerable efforts and following major surgery, the man survived and owed his life to Police Sergeant Clark who later received the Chief Constables Certificate of Merit. Gary worked on the Tonbridge Securitas depot robbery in February 2006, at the time it became the world’s largest cash heist in history, when over £53 million was stolen. Gary was also deeply involved in the running of the missing countable persons department. He retired from the Kent Police in 2014 after serving twenty-six years, he immediately joined the Port of Dover Police, ultimately attaining the position as Head of Police in 2017.
He was proficient at virtually anything he turned his hand to.. he was an exceptional bowler, he was a member at Hythe Bowling Club where he was crowned Men’s Club Champion in 2019. Gary met the love of his life Amanda Clow in April 2013. They had their first date after exchanging text messages for a few weeks, it was obvious from their first date that they were meant to be together and in Amanda’s words, “It was love at first sight”, Gary was besotted by her, eventually having her back tattooed on his back! The happy couple married on 18th July 2019 at ‘Polhawn Fort’ in Cornwall.
Spandau never lost touch with the close friends he made in the Band Service, it’s such a unique organisation and difficult to describe to outsiders what draws us all together at special and difficult times. The atrocity at Deal in 1989 with the senseless loss of eleven colleagues, including two of Gary’s own 2/81 Troop made the Royal Marines Band Service even closer, Gary and his family were regular attendees at the annual Bandstand Concerts.
Family, friends and colleagues were left stunned and saddened when Gary passed away suddenly as a result of a heart attack on 4th October 2020 aged 55. Gary was an amazing husband to Amanda, a devoted father to his sons Tom and Harry and also a fantastic stepfather to Megan and Cameron and together they formed a wonderful happy family unit. Gary is greatly missed by everyone that knew him, he was always full of mischief, the life and soul of the party, he was full of fun, loved life and he had the ability to fill a room with his presence. He had so many mates from the Royal Marines and the Police Force and kept in touch with many along the way. Gary’s Cremation Service was held at Charing Crematorium in Ashford on 6th November, former colleagues from the Band Service were in attendance, Paul Castledine carried the standard of the Royal Marines Association Deal branch and an excellent rendition of Last Post & Reveille was performed by Ashford born Royal Marines Bugler Ross Budden.