“In the intelligence community,

a rumour was almost as good

as a confirmation.”

–Kenneth Eade – 2017

Noor Inayat Khan was a descendant of Indian royalty, but she’s most revered for being the first female wireless operator sent to Nazi-occupied France during World War II. Khan was a direct descendant of Tipu Sultan, a ruler of Mysore who was killed in battle after he refused to submit to British rule. When the war started in 1939, she fled to England from France just before the French surrendered to Germany.

Khan joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in UK. The elite spy squad Special Operations Executive (SOE) recruited her in 1942. She then returned to France as part of a spy network. Through it all, Khan was said to have acted not out of a love for Britain, but out of an aversion to dictatorial rule.

Despite being advised to return to England to avoid exposure and capture by the Nazi regime, Khan heroically continued to send intercepted radio messages. In 1944, she was killed by firing squad at Dachau concentration camp. Her final words were fittingly, “Liberté”, meaning freedom. Tipu Sultan must have been proud.