Shropshire Star

WATCH: Groom travels by tank to Shropshire wedding

An army veteran decided to ride in military style to his wedding, hitching a ride on a friend's armoured vehicle.

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Groom Chris Clarke travelled to his wedding in a Spartan tank

Chris Clarke thought his colleague was joking when he suggested that he and his groomsmen travel in the back of his Spartan armoured personnel carrier.

But he quickly warmed to the idea, and on Saturday he clambered into the back of the hefty troop transport, complete with tank treads, and rode to Dorrington where he married partner of two and a half years Gail Smallman.

The owner of the vehicle, and chauffeur for the special day, was Chris' colleague at Galliers Homes, Dougie Dee.

WATCH: Tank turned into wedding transport

Dougie, 67, is a former lieutenant-colonel and has his own small collection of military vehicles.

He decked out the Spartan in ribbon and made sure it was sparkling for its special journey.

On the afternoon of the wedding Dougie trundled up to the hotel outside Shrewsbury where Chris and the groomsmen were staying, turning heads and slowing some of the traffic.

Chris, 54, served in the Royal Corps of Transport and is originally from Stourport, though has lived in Dorrington for years.

He was nervous on the big day but grinned when he heard the Spartan trundle into the hotel car park.

Chris' colleague Dougie drove the tank, assisted by his wife Ruth

He explained that he and Gail met at a family barbecue and hit it off.

"One thing led to another and now we're getting married," he said.

"Gail was quite chuffed about the tank. She is going in a vintage coach too.

"I'm a bit nervous, the stress is getting to me a little bit now!"

While Chris travelled by tank, his wife-to-be was in a vintage coach

He joked that the tank still had a machine gun, in case the wedding party encountered any problems on the way to the church.

Dougie said: "We did it for a chum's daughter's wedding a couple of years ago, and Chris said he was getting married so I said 'do you want to get married in a tank?'

"He said 'are you having a laugh?' I said 'no, no, no, we'll get it polished up, or as close as it gets to polished up'.

"It's the standard bulldozer driver licence, that's all it is. That's the basic course and then it's orientation to the vehicle.

Chris with best man Harry Clarke

"I've had this one for about four years now. Because it was quite skanky when we first got it I had to do what's called a bare-metal re-spray where you just skin it, take it right back to the aluminium and build it up.

"Having spent most of my life hiding from these things I now own one. I was in the infantry so you kept out of the way of tanks. Bad news.

"They were designed in 1916 to frighten infantry and they still do."


Dougie was helped in his tricky drive to and from the church by his wife Ruth, who sat in the higher seat and helped him navigate roads designed for a very different kind of vehicle.

"The good wife is my commander. Because although you've got reasonable view, you've got mirrors and things, it's always handy because people will do silly things.

"You get someone in the top, because they're higher up, they can see cars doing daft things and tell me.

"It takes a lot of communication to drive it safely. The key is the commander at the top who's watching for people doing daft things behind you and looking out and seeing things a bit further out.

"When we're open-hatch it's easy to drive because your head's sticking out. When you're locked down just to the periscope that really is quite challenging. You really haven't got a clue what's going on out there.

"Mind you, you're in a tank so who cares? You can go where you like. You might hear a bit of a bump."