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SEPTEMBER 2001 Contents
Page 4 of 5
'The Princess who would be Spy'
World War II SOE Agent
- Princess Noor Inayat Khan
1 January 1914 - 13 September 1944
Early the next morning, Noor climbed out of a Lysander in a moonlitmeadow a few miles north-east of Angers, near where the Loire meets the Sarthe, in a double operation that had been organised by an air movements officer. As the two planes came in, one agent climbed out of each while another handed out the baggage before following down the ladder. Within minutes the planes had taken on five returning passengers, three French political figures and two F Section agents and were heading back to Tangmere.
By that evening Noor had made her way to Paris to the address givento her. When she arrived, however, Noor was under the impression that the password with which she had been provided was intended for an old lady. The man who answered the door, Emile Henri Garry, who was anything but an old lady, found himself in turn bewildered by his visitor, who had arrived carrying a bunch of flowers for her contact, until finally one of them broke the ice and passwords were exchanged to their mutual satisfaction.
It was discovered that Noor had had nothing to eat since leavingEngland, twenty four hours earlier. She had been given a forged ration book, but she did not understand how to use it and was waiting until someone could explain the procedure to her. What happened from then on was pieced together by Jean Overton Fuller after the war from the accounts of those who had known and worked with Noor during the months between her confused arrival and her arrest in the autumn.
Noor was introduced to the Prosper group and Gilbert Norman, herfellow wireless operator, took her out to Grignon, north-west of Versailles, to meet other members of the network. At one point Noor casually left a briefcase containing her codes out on a table in the entrance hall, where, as it was pointed out to her, anyone might have come along and found it. But, although they may have been more security minded than Noor, the groups caution had its limitations too, and the following weekend the whole group, including Noor, lunched together in Paris, waiting for another group of agents from Sologne who never arrived. It was the last such get-together. Barely a week after Noor's arrival in Paris, three agents were arrested.
The agents who survived were those who scrupulously obeyed the lawsof caution. In cities, they took care that even their associates did not know where they lived or what their cover name and identity was. In the country they moved from one house to another every few days. If they were radio operators, they did not stay on the air for more than a few minutes at a time and transmitted from different places whenever possible. Those who eluded capture were seldom those who were seen dining together in black-market restaurants, talking things over in English !
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