FORMER Royal Marine Commando and and member of the Special Boat Service (SBS), Gillie Howe, has died aged 87.

Born on December 22, 1928, in Stradbroke near Ipswich, Gilbert Rex Howe, known as Gillie to friends and loved ones, had a love of the outdoors from an early age and grew up wishing to be a Royal Marine.

He won five Devizes to Westminster Canoe Marathons and is credited as playing a major part in the development of the Klepper canoe as a replacement for the existing Service canoe.

Enlisting in the Marines in March 1946, Gillie found himself in the West Indies and Belize on board HMS Sheffield.

He joined 40 Commando in Malta and moved with them, via Hong Kong to the most troubled part of the post-war Empire, Malaya.

Aged 21, now an acting Corporal, he found himself taking over his sub-section when the officer in charge was severely wounded in an exchange of fire with some bandits. He was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for leading his comrades safely through the heavy ambush.

Around 13 years later, while serving with 42 Commando in the Far East, Gillie’s courage under fire was demonstrated once more.

As commander of a jungle tracking team he made contact with a party of terrorists who out-numbered his patrol by four to one.

Howe, now a platoon Sergeant, held his ground in the face of no less than three attempts to dislodge him. He was awarded the Military Medal for his cool and resolute handling of a very difficult situation.

Even after retiring, he continued to contribute his expertise and enthusiasm to Corps events and made appearances at Royal Marine gatherings until shortly before his death.

Outside of service life, he retired to live in Tuckton and after his wife, Rita, died following 47 years of marriage in 2005, he gave all his time to running his own gun shop, Modern and Antique Firearms.

He died on December 11 and he is survived by his daughter, Sylvia and his grandchildren, Grant and Maxine.

Gillie's funeral took place at Christchurch Priory on Thursday, January 12.