History's HEROES? 1914 - 1944

Noor Inayat Khan

Noor Inayat Khan - Timeline

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1799 Tipu Sultan, King of Mysore, one of the most dangerous opponents of British rule in India is killed by the British. (This is Noor Inayat Khan's great-great-great grandfather; like him she will be a supporter of Indian Independence.)
1910 Hazrat Inayat Khan (Noor's father), a musician and leading teacher of Sufism (a branch of Islam which emphasised spiritual experience and exercise), leaves India to tour the world. He travels widely in Europe and America.
1913 While in California, USA, he meets an American girl called Ora Ray Baker, a writer and poet from New Mexico. They marry; she is initiated into Sufism and changes her name to Pirani Ameena Begum.
Hazrat Inayat Khan and Ameena Begum are residing at the Kremlin as guests of the Royal family.
1914 January 1st - Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan (eldest daughter of Hazrat Khan and Ameena Begum) is born in the Kremlin in Moscow.
Early in 1914, just after Noor's birth, the family leave Russia for London.
The family make their home at 4 Taviton Street in Bloomsbury - where they live during World War 1.
1915-1920 Noor's brothers and sister are born.
1920 After the war ends, when Noor is six years old, the family move to a house “Fazal Manzil” at Suresnes, near Paris, in France.
1926 Noor's father returns to India.
1927 Noor's father dies in India. He is buried in a tomb complex called the Nizumudin Dargah, in Delhi. This had been originally built for a 14th century Sufi mystic, Nizamuddin Auliya.
Noor's grief-stricken mother becomes very ill. Noor, a shy, dreamy young teenager, has to help look after her younger siblings.
1931 Noor attends the Sorbonne, in Paris, to study child psychology. As a gifted musician, she also studies at the Paris Conservatoire.
1936-9 As a harpist, Noor Inayat Khan is heard at the Salle Erard. She also becomes a children's writer and poet. She became a frequent contributor of articles and stories to magazines such as ‘Le Figaro’ and her children's fairy tales were broadcast by Radiodiffusion Francaise.
1939 A London publisher buys out her ‘Twenty Jataka Tales’, which was published in the UK, USA and France.
Around this time Noor gets engaged to a Jewish pianist (they do not marry, it is not known why as little is known of Noor's emotional life).
September 1st - Nazi Germany invades Poland.
September 3rd - Britain and her allies declare war on Germany. Noor Inayat Khan is in the process of founding a children's newspaper but decides to train as a Red Cross nurse.
1940 April - Nazi Germany invades Norway and Denmark.
May - Nazi Germany invades Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg.
May 23rd - Nazi Germany invades France. The lives of Noor's family are changed for ever. The family hurriedly pack some bags and head for the port of Bordeaux.
June 22nd - Noor's family arrive in Falmouth, Cornwall, after catching the last ship from Bordeaux.
August - Noor, trained as a nurse and living in Oxford, feels she is not doing enough to fight the evil of the Nazis. Although brought up a pacifist, she decides to join the British Forces.
November 19th - Noor joins the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF)as an Aircraftwoman 2nd Class. She is sent to Harrogate be trained as a wireless operator.
1941 June - Noor is assigned to a bomber training school, she does not find the work very interesting.
Noor applies for a commission and is selected for an intensive course of more specialised and highly technical signals training. Her proficiency in French brings her to the attention of British Intelligence.
A fairy tale she had written was broadcast on the Children's Hour of the BBC.
1942 Noor is asked by the War Office to attend an interview at a room in the Victoria Hotel in Northumberland Avenue, with a Captain Jepson. She is told that wireless operators, with fluent French, are needed in occupied France.
1943 Early February - Noor Inayat Khan is posted to the Air Ministry, Directorate of Air Intelligence, seconded to the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANYs) and sent to Wanborough Manor, near Guildford in Surrey, to begin her training as a Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent.
Noor is sent to Aylesbury, in Buckinghamshire, for special training as a wireless operator in occupied territory.
Noor is sent to Beaulieu, in Hampshire, to undergo a practice mission and mock interrogation.
Noor is selected to go on active service in Nazi-occupied France before her training is properly completed (due to the shortage of experienced operatives and the desperation of the situation).
June 16th - Noor is flown into France on a secret flight in an RAF Lysander aircraft, used specially for such missions, with a group of other operatives. They land a few miles north-east of Angers.
She travels to Paris, and becomes a member of the 'Prosper' Resistance network. Her code name is 'Madeleine'.
July - The network is betrayed. All the other wireless operators are arrested by the German Gestapo.
SOE offer to Noor that she can return to England. She refuses, as she is the last link between Paris and London.
August to October - Moving from place to place, she escapes capture and continues to pass back information, allowing time for more operatives to be put in place.
October - Noor is arrested by the Germans. At her arrest, she fights so fiercely that she is classified as a "highly dangerous prisoner".
Noor's notebook, where she had jotted down messages she had been sending and receiving, is found, enabling the Germans to crack the code and so capture three more agents.
Noor is taken to the Gestapo HQ in Paris. Within an hour she tries to climb out of a window but is brought back in. She is interrogated for a month without revealing the names of her associates.
November - Noor and two others try to escape. They get onto the roof of their building and climb across the other roofs. Unfortunately, an air raid alarm means the Germans conduct a roll-call and their absence is noticed. All escapees are recaptured.
November 27th - She is sent to Germany immediately, under a "Night and Fog" decree, as she refuses to sign a declaration that she would not try to escape again. Under these decrees, enemies of the Nazis completely disappear from view.
Noor is held for months in solitary confinement, in a prison in Pforzheim, mostly in chains. She continues to be completely unco-operative with the Germans in their quest for information.
1944 September 11th - Noor is taken to by the Gestapo to Karlsruhe and from there to Dachau Concentration Camp, with three other women British agents.
September 12th or 13th - Very early in the morning, Noor and her fellow prisoners are taken outside and executed, by a shot to the head. Her last words are "Liberte" - "Freedom!"
1949 Noor Inayat Khan is posthumously awarded the George Cross, the highest award for bravery displayed away from a battlefield. She is also awarded the Croix de Guerre, Gold Star.
Noor's mother dies just days after the official citation for her daughter’s posthumous George Cross is published.
1952 Her friend and comrade, Jean Overton Fuller, writes a book about her called 'Madeleine' - Noor’s Resistance codename.
1958 A former Dutch prisoner of the Nazis, known as “A.F.”, who witnessed Noor’s execution reads her biography and writes to Jean Overton Fuller. He identifies her killer as Wilhelm Ruppert, an SS guard. He described how Noor was kicked and then shot.
1988 The official files of the SOE, that had remained secret, are opened, providing more details about Noor's life.
2012 The Princess Royal unveils a sculpture of Noor Inayat Khan in London's Gordon Square Gardens.
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