PRINCESS NOOR-UN-NISA INAYAT KHAN,
George Cross, M.B.E., Croix de Guerre (with gold star).
Heroine of the French Resistance
during World War II.
Member of SPECIAL OPERATIONS EXECUTIVE.
Also an author of children's stories:
"Twenty Jataka Tales Retold"
Sir Winston S. Churchill helped to create the SPECIAL OPERATIONS EXECUTIVE on June 6,
1940-a significant date-with a letter to General Hastings Ismay, authorizing: "A proper system of
espionage and intelligence along the whole coasts, to harass the
enemy from behind the lines".
Just before the fall of France, Noor came to England with her brother, Vilayat. She enlisted in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force as 424598 Aircraftwoman 2nd class Norah Baker, and was trained as a wireless operator. Then, while awaiting a posting, she saw orders inviting personnel who could speak French and work wireless to volunteer for "special duties". This she did, and found herself in a dingy room at the War Office being interviewed by SOE for what was called "secret work".
She was accepted for training and was enrolled as a "nurse' in the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry-the customary form of cover for female agents sent by SOE to the field. This was thought to induce the Germans to behave more tolerably toward them if they were caught. She was also given a temporary commission as a flying officer in the WAAF- again, to improve her chances if she was caught.
It was now that one of the first mysteries that surrounded Princess Noor began to emerge: why was she accepted by SOE at all? For she was, one of her training officers reported: "A splendid, vague, dreamy creature, far too conspicuous-twice seen, never forgotten. " Her appearance, her accent, her bearing, all were such as to attract attention, which an SOE agent was not supposed to do! Shy, of slight build, with dark eyes set in a thin olive face surrounded by long dark hair, Noor was a gentle,graceful and charming young woman. But although in character she was said to be as "strong and flexible as a rapier-blade," her head tutor in clandestinity, Colonel F. V. Spooner, reported adversely on her because he considered her "too emotional and impulsive to be suitable for employment as a secret agent."
Spooner said later that he had "really stuck his neck out and gone to considerable lengths in his endeavours to prevent (Noor) from being sent to France as an agent. Not only was she too sensitive and easily hurt, but her inexperience.... rendered her too vulnerable from a security point of view." In spite of these and other unfavorable comments, Noor was deemed acceptable for service.
A Book by Lynn-Philip Hodgson
Much has been written about the Second World War and of the various intelligence organizations. Inside - Camp X will primarily concentrate on the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS - British), Special Operations Executive (SOE - British), British Security Co-Ordination (BSC - British/North American) [note: BSC badge pictured above], Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI - United States), Office of Strategic Services (OSS - United States), Office of War Information (OWI - United States), and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP - Canadian).
Early on in the war, Winston Churchill recognized the importance of a solid intelligence network and the role that it would play in the defeat of the Axis countries. It is with this knowledge that he would call upon the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and then upon a branch of the SIS, the Special Operations Executive (SOE). With this in mind, and recognizing that the Nazi regime had sights on North and South America, he created the British Security Co-Ordination which was charged with protecting the Americas. It was at this point where William Stephenson was introduced to the intelligence community and appointed "Head of the British Security Co-Ordination. (BSC) The BSC and the SOE had a special liaison that worked well and quickly enabled them to link up with the United States, Office of Strategic Services. (OSS)
General (Sir) Colin Gubbins, the chief of the SOE, charged with the challenge to "set Europe ablaze", said after the war, "Per capita, the secret war was bloodier than the Somme. The only difference was that the cries were muffled and, in many instances, the corpses were never found."
Between the Wars, the emphasis in training shifted from Nursing to motorised transport and the Corps became known as The Womenís Transport Service (FANY) in response to the Army Councilís recognition of it as a "voluntary reserve transport unit .... for service in any national emergency". It was this specialisation which enabled the Corps to provide the 3000 or so drivermechanics who formed the nucleus of the newly formed Motor Driver Companies of the ATS.
However, the FANY spirit of independence burned on, and it was this spirit of independence which led many members of the Corps down another path that of SOE, Special Operations Executive. FANYs were not forbidden to carry or use small arms, as were the ATS and the other womenís services. Most of the female agents sent by the SOE to France were FANYs. Thirteen of them died in concentration camps. Three of these women agents won the George Cross, two of which were awarded posthumously. Some 2000 other FANYs provided the backbone of SOE, working in cyphers and signals, as agent-conducting officers, administering the Special Training Schools and, amongst others, with the Jedburgh teams and, latterly with Massingham and Force 136 and 139. One section of the Corps was attached to the Polish Army for the duration of the War. Yet another, a small unit formed in Kenya in 1935, became the Womenís Territorial Service (East Africa), a military unit of the African Colonial Forces.
Click HERE to read an article entitled: FANY CELEBRATES CENTENARY ON JUNE 28TH, 2007
The following Link features
Peter D. Antill's Tribute to the Unsung Heroes
of 624 R.A.F (Special Duties Squadron).
These are the gallant men who flew SOE Operatives,
like Princess Noor, into action.
A very informative site.
624 R.A.F (Special Duties Squadron)
In order to appreciate the dangers
inherent in flying missions over enemy territory,
here is a 60 second WAV file recording
of an RAF Bomber Command Air Crew
encountering flak [anti-aircraft fire]
over Essen, Germany
Conversations aboard a wartime British Bomber
"TOTAL WAR" by Peter Calvocoressi and Guy Wint.
Published by: Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, London. P.1972
As resistance to Nazi occupation developed it involved not only the Resistance movements themselves inside occupied countries but also governments in exile (all of them in London except the Greek government which was in Cairo) and the organizations established with similiar aims by the British and American governments.
The first of these in point of time, and for some time the most active, was the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) which was created in July 1940 as a department in the Ministry of Economic Warfare. The date indicated the need: to preserve or renew contacts with a continent from which Great Britain had been expelled and cut off. The Ministry indicated the prime aim: To injure Germany's war-making capacity by sabotage.
The two together prescibed the method: to find, train and dispatch small groups of technically equipped demolitionists. At the beginning of the war the British government had made plans for interfering with Germany's supplies of iron ore from Sweden and oil from Rumania and although these had been attended by no success the notion of economic warfare had been embodied in a Department of State, and after Dunkirk, Great Britain's inability to do much else in Europe, combined with the emergence of Resistance in the following year and Churchill's decision to foster it, focused attention on the possibilites of sabotage.
SOE set to work to find saboteurs with the right aptitudes and languages (They were recruited in French-speaking Canada and polyglot South America as well as among refugees from Hitler's Europe) and it eventually established sixty training schools for operations in Europe besides others for Asia. These schools sent 7,500 agents, mostly nationals of the countries concerned, to western Europe and 4,000, mostly British agents and military liason parties, to Italy and southeastern Europe.
Almost at the outset these operations were extended from sabotage to intelligence. Many intelligence contacts had been broken by the retreat from the continent. In addition, military intelligence networks had been penetrated by the Germans before the war: in Holland, for example, the British Headquarters, which was next door to the house made famous in the first world war by Mata Hari, had been under surveillance since 1935 and all visitors to it had been regularly photographed as they went in and out.
There was something of an intelligence vacuum and it seemed natural to ask SOE, which was organizing sabotage trips, to get its agents to do some intelligence work too. Unfortunately agents of the one kind are not necessarily the right people for work of the other kind, nor had they been trained for it, and the confusion of the two functions endangered SOE's work. It also endangered Resistance groups, since there were more agents around who had contacts with these groups and at the same time liable to be picked up by German counter-intelligence or to become unsuspectingly involved with double agents.
A further extension of SOE's work occurred when subversion and insurrection were added to it brief. Churchill told Hugh Dalton, the Minister of Economic Warfare, that it was his business to "Set Europe ablaze". Prizing variety and unconventionality for their own sake, and stirred perhaps by the historical recollections of chouans, carbonari and klephts, Churchill welcomed the chance to revive the fighting spirit and fighting forces of Europe's nations.
He wanted to summon them to make life hell for the Germans and, ultimately, to cooperate with the allies' regular armies when the time should come to return to the continent.
|View Caricature of the Adventures of Princess Noor|
and LINKS to other related sites
|Official Documents of The Special Operations Executive|
|Imperial War Museum London search for Special Operations Executive|
|Special Operations Executive on Wikipedia for article and links for SOE|