Women Who Kick Ass

Noor Inayat Khan: Why she kicks ass
She was an Allied SOE agent during the Second World War, who became the first female radio operator to be sent from Britain into occupied France to aid the French Resistance.
After the death of her father in 1927, Noor took on the responsibility for her grief-stricken mother and her younger siblings.She studied child psychology at the Sorbonne and music at the Paris Conservatory under Nadia Boulanger, composing for harp and piano.
 She began a career writing poetry and children’s stories and became a regular contributor to children’s magazines and French radio.In 1939 her book, Twenty Jataka Tales, inspired by the Jātaka tales of Buddhist tradition, was published in London.
On 19 November 1940, she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), and as an Aircraftwoman 2nd Class, she was sent to be trained as a wireless operator. Upon assignment to a bomber training school in June 1941, she applied for a commission in an effort to relieve herself of the boring work there.
 Later she was recruited to join F (France) Section of the Special Operations Executive and in early February 1943 she was posted to the Air Ministry, Directorate of Air Intelligence, seconded to First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY), and from there to various other SOE schools for training, including STS 5 Winterfold, STS 36 Boarmans and STS 52 Thame Park. During her training she adopted the name “Nora Baker”.
Her fluent French and her competency in wireless operation—coupled with a shortage of experienced agents—made her a desirable candidate for service in Nazi-occupied France. On 16/17 June 1943, cryptonymed ‘Madeleine’/W/T operator ‘Nurse’ and under the cover identity of Jeanne-Marie Regnier, Assistant Section Officer/Ensign Inayat Khan was flown to landing ground B/20A ‘Indigestion’ in Northern France on a night landing double Lysander operation, code named Teacher/Nurse/Chaplain/Monk.
She joined the Physician network. Over the next month and a half, all the other Physician network radio operators were arrested by the Sicherheitsdienst (SD). In spite of the danger, Noor rejected an offer to return to Britain. She continued to transmit as the last essential link between London and Paris. Moving from place to place, she managed to escape capture while maintaining wireless communication with London. "She refused to abandon what had become the most important and dangerous post in France and did excellent work."
On or around 13 October 1943 Inayat Khan was arrested and interrogated at the SD Headquarters at 84 Avenue Foch in Paris. Though SOE trainers had expressed doubts about her gentle and unworldly character, on her arrest she fought so fiercely that SD officers were afraid of her.
She was thenceforth treated as an extremely dangerous prisoner. There is no evidence of her being tortured, but her interrogation lasted over a month. During that time, she attempted escape twice. Hans Kieffer, the former head of the SD in Paris, testified after the war that she did not give the Gestapo a single piece of information, but lied consistently.
On 25 November 1943, Inayat Khan escaped from the SD Headquarters, along with fellow SOE Agents, but was captured in the vicinity. There was an air raid alert as they escaped across the roof. Regulations required a count of prisoners at such times and their escape was discovered before they could get away. After refusing to sign a declaration renouncing future escape attempts, she was taken to Germany on 27 November 1943 “for safe custody” and imprisoned at Pforzheim in solitary confinement as a “Nacht und Nebel” (condemned to “Disappearance without Trace”) prisoner, in complete secrecy. For ten months, she was kept there handcuffed.
She was classified as “highly dangerous” and shackled in chains most of the time. As the prison director testified after the war, Inayat Khan remained uncooperative and continued to refuse to give any information on her work or her fellow operatives.
At the beginning of 2011, a campaign was launched to raise £100,000 for a bronze bust of her in central London close to her former home. 
The unveiling of the bronze bust of Inayat Khan by HRH The Princess Royal Anne took place on 8 November 2012 in Gordon Square Gardens, London.
She was posthumously awarded a British George Cross and a French Croix de Guerre with Gold Star. She was the third of three Second World War FANY members to be awarded the George Cross, Britain’s highest award for gallantry not in the face of the enemy.
In September 2012, producers Zafar Hai and Tabrez Noorani obtained the movie rights to the biography Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan by Shrabani Basu.
On March 03, 2013, Irfanulla Shariff, an American poet posted a poem on the internet, “A Tribute To The Illuminated Woman Of World War II”, the very first poem dedicated to her. This poem by Irfanulla Shariff fully illustrates the life story of this remarkable heroic woman of World War II.

Noor Inayat Khan: Why she kicks ass

  • She was an Allied SOE agent during the Second World War, who became the first female radio operator to be sent from Britain into occupied France to aid the French Resistance.
  • After the death of her father in 1927, Noor took on the responsibility for her grief-stricken mother and her younger siblings.She studied child psychology at the Sorbonne and music at the Paris Conservatory under Nadia Boulanger, composing for harp and piano.
  • She began a career writing poetry and children’s stories and became a regular contributor to children’s magazines and French radio.In 1939 her book, Twenty Jataka Tales, inspired by the Jātaka tales of Buddhist tradition, was published in London.
  • On 19 November 1940, she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), and as an Aircraftwoman 2nd Class, she was sent to be trained as a wireless operator. Upon assignment to a bomber training school in June 1941, she applied for a commission in an effort to relieve herself of the boring work there.
  • Later she was recruited to join F (France) Section of the Special Operations Executive and in early February 1943 she was posted to the Air Ministry, Directorate of Air Intelligence, seconded to First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY), and from there to various other SOE schools for training, including STS 5 Winterfold, STS 36 Boarmans and STS 52 Thame Park. During her training she adopted the name “Nora Baker”.
  • Her fluent French and her competency in wireless operation—coupled with a shortage of experienced agents—made her a desirable candidate for service in Nazi-occupied France. On 16/17 June 1943, cryptonymed ‘Madeleine’/W/T operator ‘Nurse’ and under the cover identity of Jeanne-Marie Regnier, Assistant Section Officer/Ensign Inayat Khan was flown to landing ground B/20A ‘Indigestion’ in Northern France on a night landing double Lysander operation, code named Teacher/Nurse/Chaplain/Monk.
  • She joined the Physician network. Over the next month and a half, all the other Physician network radio operators were arrested by the Sicherheitsdienst (SD). In spite of the danger, Noor rejected an offer to return to Britain. She continued to transmit as the last essential link between London and Paris. Moving from place to place, she managed to escape capture while maintaining wireless communication with London. "She refused to abandon what had become the most important and dangerous post in France and did excellent work."
  • On or around 13 October 1943 Inayat Khan was arrested and interrogated at the SD Headquarters at 84 Avenue Foch in Paris. Though SOE trainers had expressed doubts about her gentle and unworldly character, on her arrest she fought so fiercely that SD officers were afraid of her.
  • She was thenceforth treated as an extremely dangerous prisoner. There is no evidence of her being tortured, but her interrogation lasted over a month. During that time, she attempted escape twice. Hans Kieffer, the former head of the SD in Paris, testified after the war that she did not give the Gestapo a single piece of information, but lied consistently.
  • On 25 November 1943, Inayat Khan escaped from the SD Headquarters, along with fellow SOE Agents, but was captured in the vicinity. There was an air raid alert as they escaped across the roof. Regulations required a count of prisoners at such times and their escape was discovered before they could get away. After refusing to sign a declaration renouncing future escape attempts, she was taken to Germany on 27 November 1943 “for safe custody” and imprisoned at Pforzheim in solitary confinement as a “Nacht und Nebel” (condemned to “Disappearance without Trace”) prisoner, in complete secrecy. For ten months, she was kept there handcuffed.
  • She was classified as “highly dangerous” and shackled in chains most of the time. As the prison director testified after the war, Inayat Khan remained uncooperative and continued to refuse to give any information on her work or her fellow operatives.
  • At the beginning of 2011, a campaign was launched to raise £100,000 for a bronze bust of her in central London close to her former home. 
  • The unveiling of the bronze bust of Inayat Khan by HRH The Princess Royal Anne took place on 8 November 2012 in Gordon Square Gardens, London.
  • She was posthumously awarded a British George Cross and a French Croix de Guerre with Gold Star. She was the third of three Second World War FANY members to be awarded the George Cross, Britain’s highest award for gallantry not in the face of the enemy.
  • In September 2012, producers Zafar Hai and Tabrez Noorani obtained the movie rights to the biography Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan by Shrabani Basu.
  • On March 03, 2013, Irfanulla Shariff, an American poet posted a poem on the internet, “A Tribute To The Illuminated Woman Of World War II”, the very first poem dedicated to her. This poem by Irfanulla Shariff fully illustrates the life story of this remarkable heroic woman of World War II.
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