The Falkland Islands weekly Penguin News reported this week on the death in England of Reginald (Reg) Silvey, one of the perhaps lesser known civilian heroes of the war in 1982, but almost certainly the one whose activities put him most at risk of arrest and possible execution.
Made redundant by the Argentine takeover of the Cape Pembroke lighthouse, where he had worked, Reg, a life-long radio ham, call sign VP8OE, found himself with both the time, the skill and the opportunity to take up a new occupation as a spy.
Making contact with a fellow ham, Bob North, in distant North Yorkshire, Reg asked him to inform the Ministry of Defense that the Stanley airport was again in use after the Vulcan and Harrier raids.
Later, using abbreviations, map coordinates and simple codes, Reg transmitted information about the position of Argentine weaponry around Stanley.
These messages made little sense to Bob, but they did to the British forces.
In an interview made some years ago, Reg recalled with satisfaction, “I told them the Argentines had an anti-aircraft missile launcher by the gate leading west from Stanley out towards the Stone Corral. Harriers attacked that, and I would like to think that that was because I gave them the coordinates.”
The Argentine authorities in Stanley became aware that someone was transmitting information to the British, but were unable to locate the source despite having mobile radio tracking vans. To avoid discovery, Reg would transmit in short bursts at a time, from a variety of places, including upstairs in the old Falkland Club in Stanley.
On occasions, taking his equipment out into the street, he concealed his antenna in a length of plumbing piping carried over his shoulder.
Fortunately, Reg was never arrested and was not even subject to the arbitrary arrest and house searches that plagued so many citizens of Stanley. He continued to be a thorn in the side of the Argentines, until the very end of the war. (Penguin News)