My friend Nigel Wylde, who has died of cancer aged 69, was a distinguished career army officer, whose experiences eventually brought him into conflict with his employers.
Nigel was born in Rawalpindi a few months before the partition of India, to Norman Wylde, a military officer, and his wife, Mary (nee Higson). He had a peripatetic childhood and was educated at the Duke of York’s Royal Military school from the age of nine, followed by the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Commissioned into the Royal Army Ordnance Corps as an ammunition technical officer, he commanded the Belfast 321EOD unit in 1974 and was responsible for defusing more than 90 devices in three months, including a 350lb car bomb, for which he was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal. However, he raised concerns about possible army involvement in a murder in County Armagh and resigned his post.
He subsequently moved to military intelligence in a series of European postings, including two years with the Soviet forces in Potsdam, East Germany, an experience that informed a forthcoming documentary on allied military missions in the cold war by the German TV Channel ZDF, to which Nigel was an adviser.
He retired from the army in 1991 and took up a career in IT. The publication in 1998 of The Irish War, written by Tony Geraghty with assistance from Nigel, raised issues about the wholesale surveillance of the Ulster population. The book aroused the ire of the Ministry of Defence, and both Nigel and Tony were charged under the Official Secrets Act for trafficking in classified information, even though the data was freely available in the public domain. For Nigel, the threat of prosecution dragged on for almost two years before the case collapsed. He later relocated, with his wife, Monika, whom he had married in 1970, to her native Germany.
He completed a postgraduate diploma in law and continued to provide expert opinion, some of which conflicted with official views, contradicting the findings of the Barron Report on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings before an Irish government subcommittee in 2004 and disputing the effectiveness of liquid explosives in the 2006 airline “terror plot”. He also worked in Citizens Advice, helping others to improve their lives.
Nigel was a quiet, self-effacing individual who was reluctant to speak about his experiences. He was also very knowledgable and excellent company, with a prime motivation of looking after others, from the men under his command to those affected by political unrest.
He is survived by Monika, their daughter, Imina, and two grandchildren.