Noor Inayat Khan in uniform

Noor Inayat Khan in uniform

Noor Inayat Khan (1914—1944 CE) was a British agent during WWI against the Nazi Regime. She was born in Moscow, Russia. On her father’s side, she is of aristocratic Indian/Muslim descent. Her mother was an American from Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 1914, after the outbreak of WWI, the family moved to London where they lived in Bloomsbury for six years. In 1920, they moved to France, living right outside Paris. After the death of her father in 1927, Inayat Khan became responsible for her mother and siblings, and throughout her child she was shy, quiet, and dreamy. Later, she studied child psychology at the Sorbonne, and music at the Paris Conservatory. After her education, she made a career out of writing poetry and children’s literature, contributing to children’s magazines, as well as becoming a broadcaster on the French radio.

At the onslaught of the war in France, the family ran to Bordeaux where they boarded a ship to Falmouth, Cornwall, on June 22, 1940. Even though she had strong pacifist leanings, Inayat Khan still wanted to help during the war against the Nazi Regime. On November 19, 1940, she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, and became an Aircraftwoman 2nd Class, and a skilled wireless operator. She was promoted to Assistant Section Officer. At some point, it was decided that Inayat Khan join the SOE, or the Special Operations Executive, where she trained to become an undercover agent. Because her superiors thought her dreamy disposition and pacifistic leanings might hinder her in the field, her training was never completed. Even so, she was a candidate for the work, as she was fluent in French and was a wireless operator.

On the 16 or 17 of June, 1943, she was sent over to France and met in secret by another agent. Her agent name was Jeanne-Marie Regnier, and her code name for the “Physician” network in Paris, was “Nurse”. In the next month, all other Physician networkers were arrested, probably due to betrayal. She rejected the offer to return to Britain, and indeed she was an invaluable member of the agency due to her access to the work of “Physician”. She continued to transmit messages to Britain throughout this time, and became the most wanted British agent in Paris. Because the Nazis employed the use of wireless detection vans, she could only transmit for twenty minutes at a time before she had to run and change locations. In October of 1943, she was betrayed by either Henri Déricourt or Renée Garry, and she was arrest on October 13th. She was considered to be an incredibly dangerous prisoner, as she fought fiercely. She attempted escape twice and lied continually during interrogation by the SD, the sister organization of the Gestapo. It is unknown if torture was used, but it is quite likely. Even though they gained no information from Inayat Khan, the Nazis found copies of messages sent to other operatives, including codes used. They used these codes to trick other operatives, and soon arrested three others. On November 25, 1943, Inayat Khan escaped but was captured again and taken to a camp.

On September 11th, 1944, she was executed by the Nazis.