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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

M. R. D. Foot

Foot in 2011
Michael Richard Daniell Foot

(1919-12-14)14 December 1919
London, England
Died18 February 2012(2012-02-18) (aged 92)
Academic background
EducationWinchester College
Alma materNew College, Oxford
Academic work
InstitutionsUniversity of Oxford
Victoria University of Manchester

Michael Richard Daniell Foot, CBE, TD (14 December 1919 – 18 February 2012) was a British political and military historian, and former British Army intelligence officer with the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War.[1][2]


The son of a career soldier, Foot was educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford,[3] where he became involved romantically with Iris Murdoch.

Foot joined the British Army on the outbreak of the Second World War and was commissioned into a Royal Engineers searchlight battalion. In 1941 searchlight units transferred to the Royal Artillery. His service number was 85455. By 1942, he was serving at Combined Operations Headquarters, but wanting to see action he joined the SAS as an intelligence officer and was parachuted into France after D-Day. He was for a time a prisoner of war, and was severely injured during one of his attempts to escape. For his service with the French Resistance he was twice mentioned in despatches and awarded the Croix de Guerre. He ended the war as a major. After the war he remained in the Territorial Army, transferring to the Intelligence Corps in 1950.

After the war Foot taught at Oxford University for eight years before becoming Professor of Modern History at Manchester University in 1967. His experiences during the war gave him a lifelong interest in the European resistance movements, intelligence matters and the experiences of prisoners of war. This led him to become the official historian of SOE, with privileged access to its records, allowing him to write some of the first, and still definitive, accounts of its wartime work, especially in France. Even so, SOE in France took four years to get clearance.[4]

Personal life

Foot was very distantly related to his namesake Michael Foot. He was at one time married to the British philosopher Philippa Foot (née Bosanquet), the granddaughter of U.S. President Grover Cleveland.[5] Foot's second wife was Elizabeth King, with whom he had a son and a daughter, the historian Sarah Foot.[6] In 1972 Foot married Mirjam Romme, who under her married name became a distinguished historian of bookbinding.[3]


Foot was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2001. He also received the Territorial Decoration for Long Service in the Territorial Army.[3]

Ribbon Description Notes
Order of the British Empire (CBE)
  • Commander
  • Civil Division
  • 2001
1939–1945 Star
France and Germany Star
Defence Medal
War Medal 1939–1945
Territorial Decoration (TD)
Order of Orange-Nassau
Legion of Honour
Croix de Guerre 1939–1945



  • Gladstone and Liberalism (1952) with J. L. Hammond
  • British Foreign Policy since 1898 (1956)
  • Men in Uniform: Military Manpower in Modern Industrial Societies (1961)
  • SOE in France. An Account of the Work of the British Special Operations Executive in France 1940–1944 (1966)
  • The Gladstone Diaries (from 1968) editor
  • War and Society: Historical Essays in Honour and Memory of J. R. Western 1926–1971 (1973) editor
  • Resistance – An Analysis of European Resistance to Nazism 1940–1945 (1977)
  • Six Faces of Courage (1978)
  • MI9: Escape and Evasion 1939–1945 (1979) with J. M. Langley
  • Little Resistance: Teenage English Girl's Adventures in Occupied France (1982) with Antonia Hunt, née Lyon-Smith[7]
  • SOE, The Special Operations Executive 1940–1946 (1984)[8]
  • Art and War: Twentieth Century Warfare as Depicted By War Artists (1990)
  • Open and Secret War, 1938-1945 (1991)
  • Oxford Companion to World War II (1995) with I. C. B. Dear[9]
  • Foreign Fields: The Story of an SOE Operative (1997)
  • SOE in the Low Countries (2001)
  • Secret Lives: Lifting the Lid on Worlds of Secret Intelligence (2002) editor
  • The Next Moon: The Remarkable True Story of a British Agent Behind the Lines in Wartime France (2004) with Ewen Southby-Tailyour and André Hue
  • Clandestine Sea Operations in the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Adriatic 1940–1944[10] with Richard Brooks, Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0-203-64164-7
  • Memories of an SOE Historian (2008)


Book reviews

Year Review article Work(s) reviewed
2005 English Historical Review, V120 (2005): 1103–04 Thaddeus Holt (2004). The Deceivers. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-84804-6.
2008 Foot, M. R. D. (4 October 2008). "Stage effects in earnest". The Spectator. 308 (9397): 44. Archived from the original on 4 December 2008. Retrieved 23 December 2008. Rankin, Nicholas (2008). Churchill's wizards. Faber and Faber.


  1. ^ Drennan, Basil St. G. (1970). The Keble College Centenary Register 1870–1970. Oxford: Keble College. p. 13.
  2. ^ "M. R. D. Foot". The Times. London. 21 February 2012. Retrieved 3 November 2022.
  3. ^ a b c "MRD Foot". The Daily Telegraph. London. 20 February 2012. ISSN 0307-1235. OCLC 49632006. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  4. ^ "M.R.D. Foot". The Economist. 3 March 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
  5. ^ Eilenberg, Susan (5 September 2002). "With A, then B, then C". London Review of Books. 24 (17): 3–8.
  6. ^ Bond, Brian (21 February 2012). "MRD Foot obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
  7. ^ "MI5 suspected young Briton was 'Nazi mistress'". BBC News. BBC. 26 August 2011. Retrieved 26 August 2011.
  8. ^ WorldCat: SOE in France. OCLC 492769493.
  9. ^ WorldCat: The Oxford companion to World War II. OCLC 32364507.
  10. ^ Richards, Brooks (20 February 2004). Secret Flotillas: Vol. II: Clandestine Sea Operations in the Western Mediterranean, North Africa and the Adriatic, 1940–1944. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9780203641644 – via Google Books.

External links

This page was last edited on 29 October 2023, at 17:24
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