Inayat Khan, Noor, ‘Madeleine,’ 1914-1944

Noor Inayat Khan received a posthumous George Cross for her work as a wireless operator in Paris in 1943. She was the daughter of an Indian mystic and an American who was born in the Kremlin and brought up in Britain and France. When war broke out she was evacuated to Britain where she was recruited by the Special Operations Executive and trained as a wireless operator. She was a far-from-ideal agent because she was very striking and spoke both French and English with a foreign accent. She was shy and gentle and her training officers did not consider her suitable for active service; nonetheless, Colonel BUCKMASTER decided to send her to France even before she had completed her training. On 16 June 1943 she landed by Lysander aircraft and made contract with the Cinema network in Paris. Unfortunately at the time of her arrival, Gestapo agents were rounding up members of the network and they obtained her full description and her codename ‘Madeleine.’ She had several narrow escapes but refused to return to England when the opportunity arose until a replacement had arrived. In mid- October 1943 she was betrayed by a woman for $2000. Her codebooks and a record of all the messages she had sent were captured with her but a German attempt to use her to communicate false information to London failed. She was taken to Pforzheim Prison and kept in chains until she was transferred to Dachau where she was shot on 13 September 1944.

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