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Home> News> Famous Doncastrians>

Doncaster News and Features: Famous Doncastrian: Alexander Allan Foote

In World War II, Allan Alexander Foote (born 13th April 1905 in Armthorpe) was a radio operator for a Soviet espionage ring in Switzerland.

Alexander had lived at Springfield House in Mill Street, Armthorpe, now part of the Shopping Precinct, and went to the Church of England School. After leaving school he worked as a car dealer in Manchester.

Foote had spent some time in Spain working for the Republican side during the Civil War in the '30s and he decided to continue his efforts against Fascism (and, perhaps, for Communism) and volunteered for clandestine work with Red Orchestra.

He became a radio operator for the Soviet espionage operation run by Alexander Rado and was one of those who passed information to Moscow from the Lucy spy ring run by Rudolf Roessler. Foote was one of those arrested when the Swiss police shut down most of the operation and was detained for a time.

After the War, he spent some time in the Eastern Bloc and then returned to the West and published his book, A Handbook for Spies which is partially credible and partly fanciful.

According to various sources, Foote was indeed an MI6 double agent Rado did not know about. After the destruction of Rado's network and his escape from Switzerland, Rado met Foote in Paris and both were ordered to return to Moscow immediately.

They took off aboard a Russian military airplane on January 6, 1945, taking a circuitous route (due to the war in progress) via Egypt. Their plane refueled in Cairo, where Rado defected. After returning to Moscow, Foote was subjected to intensive interrogation attempting to determine his loyalty and the possibility of his being a penetration agent. Upon successfully getting through the questioning, he was given a new false identity under the alias of Major Granatov.

In March 1947, another Soviet agent "came in from the cold" that had been involved with British Intelligence, and may have been able to prove Foote's allegiance to the British. Foote managed to escape from Russian control via Berlin, fleeing to the British sector.


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