M. R. D. Foot

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Michael Richard Daniell Foot
Born (1919-12-14)14 December 1919
London, England
Died 18 February 2012(2012-02-18) (aged 92)
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England
Residence United Kingdom

Michael Richard Daniell Foot, CBE, TD (14 December 1919 – 18 February 2012), known as M. R. D. Foot, was a British military historian and former British Army intelligence officer and special operations operative during the Second World War.


The son of a career soldier, Foot was educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford,[1] where he became involved romantically with Iris Murdoch. He 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. 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. 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.[2]

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.[3] Foot's second wife was Elizabeth King, with whom he had a son and a daughter, the historian Sarah Foot.[4] In 1972 Foot married Mirjam Romme, who under her married name would become a distinguished historian of bookbinding.[1]

M.R.D. Foot was appointed a CBE in 2001. He also received the Territorial Decoration for Long Service in the Territorial Army.[1]


Books and monographs

  • "Great Britain and Luxemburg 1867" (English Historical Review, July 1952)
  • 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 Dairies (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[5]
  • SOE, The Special Operations Executive 1940–1946 (1984)[6]
  • 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[7]
  • 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 Andre Hue
  • Clandestine Sea Operations in the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Adriatic 1940–1944 with Richard Brooks, Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0-203-64164-7
Further reading
  • Memories of an SOE Historian (2008)

Book reviews


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  2. "M.R.D. Foot". The Economist. 3 March 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Eilenberg, Susan (5 September 2002). "With A, then B, then C". London Review of Books. 24 (17): 3–8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Bond, Brian (21 February 2012). "MRD Foot obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "MI5 suspected young Briton was 'Nazi mistress'". BBC News. BBC. 26 August 2011. Retrieved 26 August 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "WorldCat: SOE in France".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "WorldCat: The Oxford companion to World War II".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links