Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan
137 pages
English

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137 pages
English

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On 13 September 1944, Noor Inayat Khan, the first female wireless operator to be flown into occupied France, was shot at Dachau. The descendant of Tipu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore, Noor was born in Moscow and raised in the Sufi style of Islam. From this unlikely background, she became the only Asian secret agent in Europe in World War II, was one of three women in the SOE to be awarded the George Cross and the Croix de Guerre. Shrabani Basu's new book tells the full story of this extraordinarily heroic woman. Noor was brought up in France and Britain and joined the Red Cross when World War II broke out. In Britain, Noor trained as a wireless operator before being recruited by the SOE. Such was the urgent demand for radio operators that she was sent to France before her training was completed. Working under the code name of Madeleine, she joined a group that sabotaged communication lines. But disaster struck quickly and, within days, her circuit collapsed and her colleagues were arrested. Though instructed by her controller, the famous Maurice Buckmaster, to return home, she refused to abandon her post as she was the last radio operator left in Paris. For a time, she successfully dodged the Gestapo, but by late 1943 her luck had run out. She was betrayed, arrested and imprisoned at Avenue Foch. Undaunted, she made two dramatic escape attempts, but was recaptured and sent to Germany. Here she was interrogated and tortured and finally sent to Dachau, where she was shot. The Germans had learned nothing from her - not even her real name.

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Date de parution 01 février 2008
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9789351940784
Langue English

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On 13 September 1944, Noor Inayat Khan, the first female wireless operator to be flown into occupied France, was shot at Dachau. The descendant of Tipu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore, Noor was born in Moscow and raised in the Sufi style of Islam. From this unlikely background, she became the only Asian secret agent in Europe in World War II and was one of three women in the SOE to be awarded the George Cross and the Croix de Guerre.
Shrabani Basu's new book tells the full story of this extraordinarily heroic woman. Noor was brought up in France and Britain and joined the Red Cross when World War II broke out. In Britain, Noor trained as a wireless operator before being recruited by the SOE. Such was the urgent demand for radio operators that she was sent to France before her training was completed. Working under the code name of Madeleine, she joined a group that sabotaged communication lines. But disaster struck quickly and, within days, her circuit collapsed and her colleagues were arrested. Though instructed by her controller, the famous Maurice Buckmaster, to return home, she refused to abandon her post as she was the last radio operator left in Paris.
For a time, she successfully dodged the Gestapo, but by late 1943 her luck had run out. She was betrayed, arrested and imprisoned at Avenue Foch. Undaunted, she made two dramatic escape attempts, but was recaptured and sent to Germany. Here she was interrogated and tortured and finally sent to Dachau, where she was shot. The Germans had learned nothing from her - not even her real name.
Shrabani Basu is the author of Victoria & Abdul, The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant and Curry, The Story of Britain’s Favourite Dish . She is the Chair of the Trustees of the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust which she has set up in London to commemorate the Second World War heroine.

ROLI BOOKS
This digital edition published in 2015
Originally published in English in 2006 by Sutton Publishing, UK under the title ‘Spy Princess’
First published in India by The Lotus Collection An Imprint of Roli Books Pvt. Ltd M-75, Greater Kailash- II Market New Delhi 110 048 Phone: ++91 (011) 40682000 Email: info@rolibooks.com Website: www.rolibooks.com
Copyright © Shrabani Basu, 2006
No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in a retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic, mechanical, print reproduction, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of Roli Books. Any unauthorized distribution of this e-book may be considered a direct infringement of copyright and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.
eISBN: 978-93-5194-078-4
All rights reserved. This e-book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated, without the publisher’s prior consent, in any form or cover other than that in which it is published.
To my sisters, Nupur and Moushumi
A mermaid once went in a ship Upon the stormy sea, And as she sailed along, the Waves arose and sprung in glee, For on the ship she hung a lamp, Which gave a light so sweet, That anyone who saw its glow With joy was sure to meet.
Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan (age fourteen), The Lamp of Joy
Contents
Foreword
Acknowledgements
Map
Introduction
Prologue
One Babuli
Two Fazal Manzil
Three Flight and Fight
Four Setting Europe Ablaze
Five Codes and Cover Stories
Six Leaving England
Seven Joining the Circuit
Eight The Fall of Prosper
Nine Poste Madeleine
Ten Prisoner of the Gestapo
Aftermath
Appendices
I: Circuits linked to Prosper
II: Agents and Resistance members whoworked with Noor and the Prosper Circuit
III: Chronology
IV: Indians awarded the Victoria Crossand the George Cross 1939–1945
Notes
Bibliography
Foreword
H olders of the George Cross are out of the common run; Noor Inayat Khan was even farther out of it than most. She was an Indian princess on her father’s side; her mother was American. She was brought up in Paris, where she wrote and broadcast children’s stories; she had a gentle character and the manners of a lady, but lived in no luxury. She fled to England in 1940, when the Germans invaded France, and worked as a humble wireless operator on Bomber Command’s ground staff. She was plucked up into SOE, volunteered to go back to France in secret, survived for a few months in Paris but got betrayed, and was beaten up and murdered in Dachau.
What was an innocent like this doing with a pistol in her handbag? Why was she sent to France at all, in the teeth of reports that she was quite unfit to go? Why was the prearranged code that showed she was in German hands not believed when she sent it? These are some of the questions this book raises; to some of them it can provide answers.
There are books about her already, one by a close London friend of hers who detested SOE, one in French that does not pretend to be truthful. No other biographer had access, as this author did, to her recently released secret archive, and none till now was a compatriot. Shrabani Basu, London correspondent of a leading Indian news-paper, understands from inside what her heroine must have felt during the world war about the struggle for Indian independence. This is not a story to be missed.
M.R.D. Foot Nuthampstead September 2005
Acknowledgements
T his book would not have been possible without the encouragement of many people who went out of their way to help me.
I would like to thank Noor’s family, her brothers, Vilayat Inayat Khan and Hidayat Inayat Khan, who despite ill health and pressing work commitments for their Sufi orders, took the time to talk to me and give me details of Noor’s life. Thanks to Hidayat for allowing me generous use of Noor’s stories, poems, documents and family photographs. Sadly, Vilayat did not live to see the publication of the book. Thanks also to Noor’s cousin, Mahmood Youskine, who filled me in with many interesting family details, and to David Harper, Noor’s nephew, for his insights. I would have been lost without the warm and efficient Hamida Verlinden, from the Sufi Headquarters at The Hague, who helpd me with Noor’s papers, and Martin Zahir Roehrs, Vilayat’s assistant in Suresnes, who made every meeting possible. Thanks also to Amin Carp from East West Publications at The Hague for his help.
To Professor M.R.D. Foot for meticulously reading each chapter and helping me at every stage, I owe my heartfelt gratitude. I could not have asked for a better guide. I would also like to thank him for writing the foreword to this book.
I am indebted to Jean Overton Fuller, too, for sharing her precious memories of Noor and providing her insights into her friend’s life. I am also grateful to her for allowing me to quote material from her book.
Thanks to Francis Suttill for sharing information with me about his father, Alain Antelme for all his inputs on his uncle and John Marais for sharing his memories of his mother and Noor. Their help has been invaluable.
In Dachau, I would like to thank my wonderful guide, Maxine Ryder, and Dirk Riedel from the Dachau Museum for his inputs. In Delhi, thanks to Kamini Prakash from the Hope Project for showing me around Inayat Khan’s tomb. In Calcutta, thanks to Mohammed Husain Shah, direct descendant of Tipu Sultan, for telling me about the family history, and in Moscow, thanks to Jelaluddin Sergiei Moskalew for his helpful inputs on Inayat Khan and the birth of Noor.
Thanks also to Phillip Knightley, Michael Dwyer, Heather Williams, Sarah Helm and Chris Moorhouse and John Pitt of the Special Forces Club for all their help and advice.
I am grateful to my commissioning editor at Sutton Publishing, Jaqueline Mitchell, for her invaluable guidance, patience and encouragement, and my editors Anne Bennett, Jane Entrican and Hazel Cotton for their meticulous work.
Thanks to my daughter, Sanchita, for French translations and Klaas Van Der Hoeven for German translations. And finally, my family for their much needed moral support. To everybody, I owe this book.
Map of France showing the areas covered by the Prosper and other connected circuits and sub-circuits.
Introduction
T he lone gardener was working in the June sun clearing the weeds around Fazal Manzil, the childhood home of Noor Inayat Khan. It was a particularly hot day in Paris, a precursor to the heatwave that would sweep Europe in the summer of 2003. From the steps of Fazal Manzil, where the Inayat Khan children had often sat and played, I looked out over the hill towards Paris. The view was blocked by apartment blocks that have mushroomed in Suresnes. It was not quite the sight the children would have seen all those years back.
At eighty-seven, Pir Vilayat was a frail but impressive figure in his white robes. Walking with the help of a stick he took me to the living room with its large bay window. From here one could see the garden and the city beyond. It was in this room that he and Noor had decided that they would go to Britain and join the war effort. A large portrait of their father, Hazrat Inayat Khan, hung on the wall.
‘Every day of my life I think of her. When I go for a walk I think of her, when I feel pain, I think of how much more her pain was, I think of her in chains, I think of her being beaten. When I am cold I think of her, I think of her lying in her cell with hardly any clothes. She is with me every day,’ said Vilayat. It was a moving tribute from a brother.
I had first heard of Noor Inayat Khan many years ago in an article about the contribution of Asians to Britain. I was immediately drawn to the subject and read Jean Overton Fuller’s Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan , which was fascinating.
As an Indian woman myself, Noor’s life held a natural attraction for me. How a Muslim woman from a conservative spiritual family went on to become a secret agent, working undercover in one of the most dangerous areas d

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