Don Dallas, Reuters’ correspondent in Moscow between 1947 and 1949, in the days of Joseph Stalin’s rule, died at his home near London on 2 November, aged 85.
He was associated with Reuters for more than 60 years, starting as a junior sub-editor in 1939 when his tasks included taking dictation of Adolf Hitler’s speeches relayed from Berlin.
Don rejoined Reuters after the war. His Russian assignment led to a book, Dateline Moscow (Heineman, 1952), describing the problems Western reporters faced in trying to prise information out of Soviet officialdom. At the time of his death he was working on a follow-up book re-examining the Cold War.
On his return from Moscow, he joined the North American desk, specialising in Soviet affairs. He also reported from Poland and later from Nigeria, Ghana and Libya.
Don then began a long involvement with training and development programmes in Africa and Asia. He helped to set up the Libyan news agency and then Bernama, the Malaysian news agency. He was awarded the OBE for services to Malaysia.
After retiring from Reuters in 1980, he worked as a consultant to the Reuters Foundation, assessing applications from journalists for study fellowships at Oxford and Stanford universities.
Born in Broadstairs, Kent, his father was secretary of the Broadstairs Gas Company.
Don matriculated from Chatham House Grammar School at Ramsgate and joined the Thanet Gazette in Margate, then the Sussex County Herald, Lewes, before joining Reuters.
He recalled that one of the high points of his early career at Reuters was handling the story of the scuttling of the German battleship Graf Spee in December 1939.
As a former Reuters correspondent and editor, I had known Don since 1957 and more recently worked closely with him at the Reuters Foundation.
He had an insatiable appetite for the news business. His long experience of training journalists in the developing world bred in him a strong compassion for their struggles to overcome the censorship of despots and to acquire the technology and skills we take for granted in more developed countries.
But Russia and eastern Europe was always his special thing and Don was forever coming up with fresh ideas for his planned book – I think it is what kept him going with such vigour.
Only recently, he wrote a chapter about the Stalin years for the book Frontlines: Snapshots of History, published to mark Reuters’ 150th anniversary.
He leaves a widow, Frances, whom he married in 1948, and two children, Rae and Stewart.