On Monday, 27 November, the British High Commissioner to Canada Susan Le Jeune d’Allegeershecque welcomed the Canadian relatives of celebrated British intelligence officer Frank Foley to her residence Earnscliffe. The visit commemorated the family’s decision to gift medals awarded to Mr Foley, including the Order of St Michael and St George, to the UK government so they can be properly displayed in hopes of inspiring future generations through Mr Foley’s courage.
Whilst working for the Secret Intelligence Services (SIS), often known as MI6, Mr Foley was posted to Germany under cover as a passport officer prior to the Second World War. During this time he used his role to ensure Jews threatened with death under Nazi rule could escape Germany by helping them secure travel documents. Working without diplomatic immunity, he put his personal safety at risk to save the lives of those looking to flee persecution. It is estimated he saved the lives of 10,000 people.
During the ceremony the High Commissioner read a statement from the current Chief of SIS.
In his statement to the family Alex Younger said:
Frank Foley was a true British hero. His dignity, compassion and bravery are in no doubt. He was a consummately effective intelligence officer who personified the SIS Values of Creativity, Courage, Respect and Integrity.
Serving in Berlin between the wars, he witnessed at first hand the Nazi seizure of power, and the horrors and depravity of the regime. While many condemned and criticised the Nazis’ discriminative laws, Frank took action.
With little regard for his personal safety, Frank’s tenacity and passion saved the lives of many thousands of European Jews, using his position as a Passport Control Officer, he ensured that they could travel safely out of the clutches of Hitler’s killers.
After his death in 1958 at the age of 73, Mr Foley’s medals were willed to his surviving family in Canada. Following a visit to a memorial plaque in his honour at the British Embassy in Berlin his family decided to donate the medals to SIS.
Frank Foley’s grand nephew Michael Foley said:
After seeing his medals on the wall inside our home for years and not being recognised, we felt it was better to give them to the British government so they could be properly displayed in the UK in a way that ensures Frank continues to receive the attention he deserves.