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SEPTEMBER 2001 Contents

 Interview

 Arundhati Roy

 Heritage

 Cultural Heritage of  south Asia

 People

 Noor Inayat Khan

 Communities

 The Indo-African  Diaspora

 Lifestyle

 Delhi's First Ladies

 Films

 Beyond the Arclights

 Editor's Note

 Phoolan Devi

 

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Silk Road on Wheels

The Road to Freedom

Enduring Spirit

Parsis-Zoroastrians of
India

The Moonlight Garden

Contemporary Art in Bangladesh

 

 

 

Page  2  of  5

 

'The Princess who would be Spy' 

World War II SOE Agent 

- Princess Noor Inayat Khan

1 January 1914 - 13 September 1944

(cntd)

by

Andy Forbes

noork.gif (15876 bytes) noorvinasmall.jpg (8329 bytes)

In the early months of the war Noor and her sister took a Red Cross nursing course, intending to join the war against the Nazis in the only way that seemed practical. With the Germans approaching Paris, the family joined the exodus from the city. They made their way to Bordeaux and, because Vilayat had been born in England, they managed to get on the last boat evacuating British subjects. Noor was 26 years old and living in Oxford in August 1940. However, nursing didn't seem to her like enough. Her brother had joined the RAF and in November Noor joined the Womens Auxillary Air Force (WAAF). As Aircraftwoman 2nd Class Nora Inayat Khan she was posted to Harrogate with the first groups of WAAF's to be sent for training as wireless operators. In June 1941 she was posted to a bomber training school station, where she found the work dull. She applied for a commission and was selected for an intensive course of more specialised and highly technical signals training. That month a fairy tale she had written was broadcast on the Childrens Hour of the BBC.

Noor told her brother and her friend Jean that she thought she would not get her commission; she felt she had made an unfortunate impression on the officers interviewing her by becoming too emotional on the then problematic subject of Indian independence. To Jean her brother expressed the concern of what he called Noor's unworldliness would be her undoing - that she was 'born for sacrifice'.

And then, 'out of the blue', as these summonses were always characterised, Noor was asked by the War Office to present herself at a room in the Victoria Hotel in Northumberland Avenue for an interview with a Captain Jepson. He told her about the need for wireless operators to work with other British officers organising resistance groups in occupied France, and made clear the risk of capture, torture and death at the hands of the Gestapo.

Early in February 1943 Noor was posted to the Air Ministry, Directorate of Air Intelligence, seconded to the FANY's, and sent to Wanborough Manor, near Guildford in Surrey, to begin her SOE training. From there she was sent to Aylesbury, in Buckinghamshire, for special training as a wireless operator in occupied territory. She would be the first woman to be sent over in that capacity, all of the women agents before her having been sent as 'couriers'. Having had previous W/T training, she had an edge on those who were just beginning their radio training. She was fast, and she was accurate.

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