Noor Inayat Khan

She was a princess–and a spy.

The great-great granddaughter of Tipu Sultan (18th Century ruler of the Mysore Kingdom) respected her family’s pacifist Sufi beliefs, but still felt she needed to do something to help the Resistance. She left the safety of England and joined with SOE’s “Section F” in France to run wireless radio operations.

Radio operations under these conditions were dangerous, especially if you went over 30 minutes in a broadcast (which ran the risk of getting tracked down and captured). However by being able to receive and pass messages between London and the French Resistance, as well as instructions for incoming SOE agents who were parachuted into Nazi-occupied territory, Khan provided an invaluable service.

Even when most of the radio operators in her network (aka the Physicians network) were arrested by the Nazis, she refused to flee to England and continued being one of the last communication links between London and Paris. Unfortunately this brave move led to her betrayal by the double agent Henri Dericourt and being taken into Nazi custody.

During her imprisonment, she never cracked under pressure and never revealed any SOE secrets or information. She tried to escape twice but was captured. Witnesses said that she fought so fiercely against capture that the Nazis were actually afraid of her, and sent her as a prisoner to Germany under the condemnation of Nacht und Nebel–Disappearance Without a Trace.

On September 11, 1944 Noor was sent to the Dachau concentration camp. Two days later, she was shot in the head along with three other female SOE agents.

It is said that her last word was, “Liberté.”

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