Rex Hunt (governor)

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Sir Rex Hunt
CMG
Governor of the Falkland Islands
In office
25 June 1982 – 16 October 1985
Monarch Elizabeth II
Chief Executive David G. P. Taylor
Preceded by Jeremy Moore (as Military Commander)
Succeeded by Gordon Jewkes
In office
1980 – 2 April 1982
Monarch Elizabeth II
Preceded by Sir James Parker
Succeeded by Mario Benjamín Menéndez (as Military Commander)
Personal details
Born Rex Masterman Hunt
(1926-06-29)29 June 1926
Died 11 November 2012(2012-11-11) (aged 86)[1]
Nationality British
Alma mater St Peter's College, Oxford
Occupation Diplomat and colonial administrator
Military service
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Air Force
Years of service 1941 – 1948
Rank Flight Lieutenant
Unit No 5 Squadron
No 26 Squadron
Battles/wars World War II

Sir Rex Masterman Hunt, CMG (29 June 1926 – 11 November 2012) was a Royal Air Force pilot, British diplomat and colonial administrator. He was Governor, Commander-in-Chief and Vice Admiral of the Falkland Islands (and concurrent High Commissioner of the British Antarctic Territory) between 1980 and September 1985. Hunt became a household name during the Falklands War after the Argentine invasion of the islands, when he was briefly taken prisoner and temporarily removed from his position.

Military and diplomatic career[edit]

Hunt was born in Redcar in the North Riding of Yorkshire (Redcar is now part of the Redcar and Cleveland unitary authority). After attending Coatham School, in Redcar, and St Peter's College, Oxford where he read Law,[2] Hunt joined the Royal Air Force as a cadet in 1941 and was enlisted as an airman in 1944 and commissioned as a pilot in 1945.[3] He was promoted to flying officer (war substantive) in June 1946[4] with the permanent promotion to that rank in December the same year.[5] In August 1946, he transferred to No 5 Squadron in India where he flew Spitfires, before transferring to Germany with No 26 Squadron in August 1947. He left active service in September 1948,[6] received the rank of flight lieutenant in the Royal Air Force reserves in September 1950,[7] and relinquished the commission in December 1953.[8]

In 1952, Hunt joined the Colonial and Diplomatic Service, and had his first foreign posting as District Commissioner in Uganda in 1962. He then served as First Secretary in Kuching, Sarawak, 1964–65, and Jesselton, Sabah 1965-67, both in the newly independent Malaysia, and then in Brunei 1967. In 1968 he was transferred to Ankara in Turkey, but was back in Asia with the appointment as Head of Chancery in Jakarta, Indonesia, 1970-72.[9] After a brief spell back in the UK, he was appointed Consul-General at the British Embassy in Saigon in January 1974[10] and was there at the time of the fall of South Vietnam in 1975. He was transferred to Kuala Lumpur in 1976, and served as Deputy High Commissioner to Malaysia 1977-79.[9] On 14 January 1980, Hunt was appointed Governor of the Falkland Islands and High Commissioner of the British Antarctic Territory.[11] The status of the Falkland Islands was an irritant to the British Foreign Office who wanted to hand over the Islands to Argentina.[citation needed] Hunt's role was to persuade the islanders that Argentine sovereignty was in their best interests. Hunt soon discovered that the population of the Falkland Islands were wholly opposed to any ceding of sovereignty and he relayed this information back to the Foreign Office. Hunt's seniors in London did not receive the news well and concluded that Hunt had "gone native."[12]

Falklands War[edit]

At the start of the 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands, Hunt made his official residence, Government House in Port Stanley, the operational headquarters for the Royal Marines. He sent his family and domestic staff away to safer houses with only their most valuable possessions. His housekeeper took a picture of the Queen and a bottle of gin.[13] Government House quickly became the site of an engagement between the Royal Marines garrison and the Argentine navy's commandos. Hunt gave the order to lay down arms, before going to Stanley Town Hall, wearing his dress uniform and plumed helmet, to meet the Argentine commander, Vice-Admiral Carlos Büsser. "You have landed unlawfully on British territory and I order you to remove yourself and your troops forthwith," said Hunt. He was captured by the Argentinian invasion force and expelled from the islands to Uruguay. Four hours later Hunt was on a plane to Montevideo, Uruguay.[13] He remained away during the occupation.

Post-war life[edit]

After the war, Hunt resumed his work as Governor of the Falkland Islands, continuing until 1985.

External images
Hunt at his desk shortly after returning to his post

Hunt wrote about his time in the Falklands in his book My Falkland Days (published in 1992).[14] He was chairman of the Falkland Islands Association for many years. He retired as chairman in 2004 and moved to Elton, County Durham, a few miles away from his native Redcar.[15]

The British government announced that Hunt died in hospital in Stockton-on-Tees on 11 November 2012, aged 86.[14] Upon his death, British Prime Minister David Cameron stated that Hunt "should be a hero to everyone in Britain" for his involvement during the Falkland wars.[14]

Honours[edit]

Hunt was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1980, and knighted 11 October 1982, in recognition of services during the Falklands War[16] He was a Freeman of the City of London 1981, and a Freeman of Stanley, Falkland Islands 1985[9] In 1987 Hunt was appointed as the Honorary Air Commodore of No. 2729 (City of Lincoln) Squadron (Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment).[17]

Cultural references[edit]

Hunt was portrayed by Ian Richardson in the 1992 BBC television drama An Ungentlemanly Act, depicting the 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "BBC News - Falklands governor Sir Rex Hunt dies". Bbc.co.uk. 1 January 1970. Retrieved 2012-11-12. 
  2. ^ Shirley, John (12 November 2012). "Rex Hunt Obituary". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 37518. p. 1626. 29 March 1946.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 37647. p. 3603. 12 July 1946.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 37883. p. 800. 18 February 1947.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 38401. p. 4946. 14 September 1948.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 39335. p. 4878. 18 September 1951.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 40293. p. 5642. 5 October 1954.
  9. ^ a b c Who's Who 2012, A & C Black, 2012, Online University Press
  10. ^ The London Gazette: no. 46272. p. 5068. 23 April 1974. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
  11. ^ The London Gazette: no. 48277. p. 11491. 13 August 1980.
  12. ^ "Sir Rex Hunt". The Daily Telegraph (London). 12 November 2012. 
  13. ^ a b "Fight for the Falklands". BBC News. Retrieved 26 May 2007. 
  14. ^ a b c "Rex Hunt, British governor at time of Falklands war, dies at 86". Washington Post. 12 November 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  15. ^ Evening Gazette Sir Rex Hunt dies
  16. ^ The London Gazette: no. 49134. p. 12859. 8 October 1982.
  17. ^ http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060024777
  18. ^ "An Ungentlemanly Act (1992)". IMDB. Retrieved 6 June 2009.