Noor Inayat Khan was born in Moscow in 1914. Her father was Muslim from India, her mother was American. She was a descendant of Tipu Sultan, ruler of Mysore which meant she was a princess.
She went to France shortly after her birth, and then to London at the start of the First World War. The family moved back to Paris in 1920.
Noor became a musician like her father and she wrote poetry and children’s stories. Some of these were animal stories from India called “Jataka Tales”.
The family were forced to leave France in 1940 after the start of World War 2 in 1939. In Britain she learned to be a radio operator and she flew back to France in 1943 under the code name “Madeleine”. She landed by parachute at night.
By now Paris was occupied by Germany and Noor’s radio messages to London were very important. Although other radio operators were arrested Noor refused to leave. In October she was arrested and questioned after someone betrayed her.
She was taken to Germany and put in solitary confinement in prison at Karlsruhe, classified as “highly dangerous”. In spite of being repeatedly tortured for ten months, Noor refused to give any information. She was finally executed in 1944.
In 1949 Noor Inayat Khan was posthumously awarded the George Cross, and the French Croix de Guerre. There are memorials to her in France and Belgium.
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Noor Inayat Khan
A princess descended from Tipu Sultan of Mysore
Wrote poetry and learned musical instruments from her father
Joined the WAAF and trained as a radio operator
Flew into France secretly 7 met by a double agent
Operated in Paris alone defying capture and refusing to return
When betrayed she refused to give any information
What happened to her in Germany has only slowly been pieced together. Her courage was extraordinary. The final section here tells this story which some will find harrowing.