Noor –un-Nisa Inayat Khan, suggested as a strong contender for the face of new British pound 50 note, among others like Margatte Thather , Mathematician Alan Turing , physicist Stephen Hawk ,was Indian princess who spied for Britain in the world war 11 successfully.
Born on New Year’s Day in 1914 into royalty to an Indian father and American mother.
A direct descendant of Tipu Sultan ,the Muslim ruler of Mysore India.
She was musician playing piano , and a writer of short stories especially children stories.
She wrote the book “ twenty Jataka tales” in 1939 which established her as a writer.
Jataka Tales relate to the incarnations of lord Budha.
Her father Inayat khan was living in Baroda but left country to teach Sufism in the west. Sufism emphasizes the renunciation of worldly things, purification of the soul and the mystical contemplation of God’s nature.
He married an American lady Ora Ray Baker who changed her name to Begum Amina Sharda .after marriage. During world war 1 Inayat khan moved to Paris and eventually settled there.
Inayat khan died while on pilgrimage in India .
Noor with her mother had to look after the family and her three siblings.
Noor Inayat’s family moved to England in 1939 to volunteer for the war services. At the age of 25 in 1940 she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WA A F) and became radio operator.
She spoke French very fluently and thus was chosen in 1942 to join the special operations Executive(SOE) ,a secret British organization set up to offer resistance to Germany through “espionage and sabotage”.
She was flown to Gemany occupied France to work for the ‘prosper’ with code name ‘Madelina’.Many of her colleagues in the network were arrested soon after but she managed to move from place to place avoiding her detection and capture .
Despite Noor Inayat Khan had worked hard assiduously to master the art of translating Morse codes during combat training but some of colleagues in her intelligence network had second thoughts about her efficacy to do the job efficiently.
Her superior officer , Col.Frank Spooner wrote in her personal file
“Not overburdened with brains but has worked hard and shown keenness, apart from some dislike of the security side of the course. She has an unstable and temperamental personality and it is very doubtful whether she is really suited to work in the field.”
But her excellent radio skills compelled the special operations unit in June 1943 to send her to France under assumed name Jeanne Marie Renier, as a children’s nurse. Though SOE wanted her to return to Britain but she rebuilt the network on her own. and made great success of her espionage job. She often changed her guise to evade detection .
She sent transmissions from Paris to London constantly and carried her work with great success and conviction conterary to the expections of London superiors.
Her work had assumed greater importance for war efforts to help safe deliveries to come in.
Her work had become crucial to the war effort, helping airmen escape and allowing important deliveries to come in.
In October 1943 Noor Khan was tricked into by a Frenchwoman and arrested by the Gestapo.
She had carelessly, rather unwisely, left the copies of of her secret signals and Germans used her radio to send these straight to the waiting agents in Gestapo. She escaped from the prison but was rearrested a few hours later. And sent to Pforzheim prison in Germany , keeping her chained in solitary confinement .She was tortured to reveal information but she did not yield to any physical torture. On September12, 1944 Noor Inayat along with three other SOE agents were transferred to Dachau concentration camp and on 13th September they were shot dead.
NOOR INAYAT KHAN was just 30 years old .
Noor Khan was posthumously awarded the George Cross in 1949.by Britain and the Croix de Guerre, with gold star, by France.
English Heritage ,a British group is planning to create a blue plaque in her name as a mark of respect.
In France, a primary school in Suresnes has been named after her. In 2014, a documentary, “Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story.” Has been made. The writer Arthur Magida is working on her biography .
In Gordon Square in London, where Khan once lived, there is a statue of her in a quiet corner. It is engraved with the last word she reportedly said before being executed at Dachau — “Liberté.”
Noor Inayat khan lived and died in the dedication of her Duty to the last of her breath.