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Military Award Winners: Noor Inayat Khan. GC. MBE. 1914-1944 - Capture, the Gestapo, the Camp, the Bullet.

Updated on December 31, 2015
Happier days.
Happier days. | Source

She Fought and Died for Freedom.

So who was Noor Inayat Khan? She was a woman who was born to wealth and all that it brings. She was born in Moscow on 1st January 1914. The daughter of highly regarded parents, her father was a leader in the Sufism movement, as well as a musician. Her mother was an American from New Mexico, who met her husband while he was working in the USA. In the early part of 1914 the family left Russia to live in the UK. In the early 1920s the family moved again, this time to Paris. They settled there and in 1927 after the death of her father Noor took control of the family. She had been making a living as a children's writer.

The War Begins.

The second world war started in1939 and in 1940 the family fled France for Britain, landing in Falmouth, Cornwall on 22 June. A strong and independent woman, Noor felt that she had to do something towards the war effort. So at the age of 26 she joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. ( WAAF ). She undertook several courses and displayed a particular ability as a wireless operator. This would prove to be her destiny and her downfall. Although influenced by the pacifist teachings of their father. She and her brother Vilayat, both wanted to bridge the gap between the Indian and English speaking peoples. Before them they felt lay an opportunity.

Special Operations Executive.

As an Aircraftwoman 2nd Class, Noor went for wireless operator training and assigned to a Bomber Training School. In 1942 she was recruited into the Special Operations Executive. (SOE) Several instructors expressed doubts about her ability to undertake hazardous duties. She had failed in some respects during her training, however she had excellent language skills and was fluent in French. The need for radio operators in France was great and so along with two other women agents, Noor was flown into France by a small Lysander aircraft on the night of 16th/17th June 1943.They were met by another agent Henri Dericourt. This man was an SOE Officer and an ex French Air Force Pilot. Since the war, he has been thought to have been a double agent working for the Germans. Over the next few weeks many radio operators were caught by the Germans, as well as the Vichy authorities. The situation became very dangerous but despite offers of withdrawal back to England, Noor stayed on refusing to abandon her post.

Betrayal And Capture.

On the 1st October 1943. Noor was betrayed. Although not proven it was thought by some to have been Henri Dericourt. She was arrested by the Gestapo and taken to the Gestapo headquarters at 84 Avenue Foch, an address which struck fear into the hearts of many who passed through its doors. Here she was interrogated for a month. At one point having requested a bath she tried to escape through the bathroom window. Guards were outside and she was caught as she climbed through it. After another attempt to escape, Noor was moved to Germany at the end of November 1943. She was held in a prison in Pforzheim, here she was kept in solitary confinement. It is likely that Noor suffered indignity and torture in this place. It is known that she was treated as a dangerous prisoner and her hands and feet were in chains. During this confinement she was treated as a 'Nacht und Nebel' prisoner, condemned to 'disappearance without trace'. Not a time a place or a name was ever given to her captors.


On the 11th November 1944 Noor was moved to the Dachau concentration camp. Here she was to endure two days of vicious beatings by SS Guard Wilhelm Ruppert, she gave nothing away. After two days along with three other female agents, Noor was taken to the gates of the camp. All four of these most courageous women, were then marched across to a small copppice of woodland. Here they were executed by a shot to the head from behind.

Three More Women Of Courage.

It is only right to mention here the names of the other women murdered alongside Noor. Yolande Beekman, Eliane Plewman and Madeleine Damerment. Upon Noor's arrest she had left notebooks behind, via the information within Madeleine had been identified and captured. These four courageous women all did their duty as they saw it. So did many thousands more who fought and died without mention.

Awards and Mentions.

Britain: George Cross. ( The highest award for gallantry not on the field of battle). / MBE. Member of the Order of the British Empire. / Mentioned in Despatches.

France: Croix de Guerre with Gold Star.

© 2012 Graham Lee


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    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Addrienne. Please forgive my late reply. Thank you for your visit I greatly appreciate it. I hope you found it of value anyway.


    • profile image


      4 years ago

      A few years ago I'd have to pay someone for this infirmatoon.

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      7 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hello SANJAYKG. Thank you for your visit and welcome comments. Yes, so many people died in those terrible years, their deaths unrecorded.


    • SANJAYKG profile image


      7 years ago from India

      Thank u for a historical article that i haven't heard before

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      7 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi TT. Thank you for your visit and comments. Yes, there are so many unsung people who served and lost there lives. As Churchill said, 'jaw jaw not war war' we all have to talk in the end. Thank you for your votes.


    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 

      7 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Wow, Graham, I don't think I've ever heard of Noor. Thank you so much for writing this and sharing her story. VUMS.

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      7 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi always exploring. Thank you for your visit and very kind comments.


    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      7 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hello Sis. Thanks for your visit. Yes, there were so many who died unrecognised and in the most horrific circumstances. What's it all about.............?


    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      7 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi UH. Thanks for your valued visit. There were so many that died unrecognised and in such terrible circumstances.


    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      7 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I love your stories. I learn so much from your writing. Thank you for sharing them...

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 

      7 years ago from Central Texas

      Again, you've educated me -- I did not know of Noor -- how brave she was to sustain as she did until the end. Thank you for your ongoing educational pieces -- I always enjoy them immensely. Best/Sis

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 

      7 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      I'd heard of Noor, but never knew any of the details. Thanks for this great hub.

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      7 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Thank you Bill. I appreciate your comments. I like your hubs because you work hard to inform and uplift your readers. Always a pleasure.


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Another fascinating history lesson! Thank you, Graham, for teaching this old teacher. I love your stories and I always leave your hubs better informed.


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