History's HEROES? 1914 - 1944

Noor Inayat Khan

Who was she?

Things you may not know about Noor Inayat Khan

Noor Inayat Khan was of royal descent. More
Her name, Noor, meant 'light of womanhood'. More
Noor's great aunt founded the Christian Science Church in the USA. More
She was described as gentle, shy, sensitive, musical, dreamy, poetic and otherworldly. More
Her finishing report during training failed to spot her courage. They described her as easily flustered and scared of guns. More
She flew to France twice. More
Noor was the first female radio operator to be sent into occupied France. More
She was more concerned about causing worry to her mother than about herself when posted abroad. More
Noor refused to abandon what had become the most dangerous undercover position in France. More
When she found a Gestapo agent waiting for her, she resisted arrest so fiercely that he had to call for assistance. More
She twice tried to escape captivity. More
She sent a coded message to alert the SOE of her capture: they ignored it. More
Although interrogated for weeks she refused to give any information. More
She died with great dignity. More
Noor made a great impression on many people, even those keeping her captive. More
She was a committed supporter of Indian self rule. More
In Paris, a military band still plays in her honour every 14th July. More

Noor Inayat Khan in brief

Assistant Section Officer INAYAT-KHAN displayed the most conspicuous courage, both moral and physical over a period of more than 12 months.- George Cross citation

Princess Noor Inayat Khan was a British Special Operations Executive Agent in World War 2 and the first female radio operator to be sent into occupied France to aid the Resistance. 

Noor was born in the Kremlin in Moscow (whilst her parents were guests of the Royal Family). The family left Russia just before WW1, moving to Bloomsbury, London, before settling near Paris in 1920. At the outbreak of WW2, the family fled to England. Despite her pacifist upbringing, Noor wanted to play her part in defeating Nazi Germany. She joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) in 1940 as a trainee wireless operator. Because of her fluent French, she was chosen to train as a special agent. She was flown to France where she worked in great danger. Not long after her arrival, a wave of arrests were made and Noor's became the only radio still operating in Paris. Despite the danger, she refused an offer to return to England. Eventually she was betrayed, captured, interrogated and imprisoned at Pforzheim in solitary confinement. She was shackled in chains for most of the time.

She refused to give any information on her work or other operatives. Noor and three other SOE agents were moved to the Dachau Concentration Camp. In the early hours of the morning, on 13th September 1944, the four women were taken outside and shot. Before she died, she was reported to have shouted out "liberty". She was 30 years old.

Noor Inayat Khan Picture Gallery

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