Skip to main content

02 October 2018

Michael Dockrill Obituary

On 9 September 2018 one of the great stalwarts of the Department, Professor Michael Dockrill, passed away.

A field of poppies backlit by the sun
A field of poppies backlit by the sun

On 9 September 2018 one of the great stalwarts of the Department, Professor Michael Dockrill passed away.


Mike joined the Department in 1971 and remained until his retirement in 2001. He was one of only a handful of staff who sustained the Department for the better part of two decades. In the early 1980s, he met Saki Kimura, a postgraduate student in the War Studies Department, who had her own keen interest in postwar European history. They married in 1985. Saki went on to make her name as a leading international historian. Mike took enormous pride in her achievements and they made a formidable pair. Both were at the heart of departmental life.

Mike was a leading professor in the Department. Few did more to promote the study of the history of British foreign policy. Generations of students appreciated lectures combining a deep knowledge of 20th-century international history with genial good humour.

In addition to his own works, covering such topics as the Paris peace conference (Peace without Promise: Britain and the Peace Conference, 1919-23 with J Douglas Goold, 1981) or the awkward relationship with France in the build up to the second world war (British Establishment Perspectives on France, 1936-1940, 1999), Mike published major collections of newly released documents, supporting the work of other experts while allowing students to appreciate the value of original sources.

Professor Mike Rainsborough, Head of the Department of War Studies said,

“He was a remarkable figure: a venerable diplomatic historian, an inspiring teacher, a devoted tutor and mentor, and as many of us will testify, a charming and witty bon vivant. 

His memory will live on for those of us who remember him as integral to the development of the department, but above all as a wonderful, warm-hearted man who would be the first to dispel our gloom and invite us to raise a glass to long life and happiness.”