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Remembering Noor Inayat Khan

by Polly Gannaway

This weekend in the Guardian Ian Jack argued the case for adding one more war memorial to the many thousands that have been erected in London, in towns and villages across England and throughout the globe. Plans are now in motion to honour Noor Inayat Khan, a British Muslim from the early 20th century, with a bust on Gordon Square in Bloomsbury. Throughout her life she was a writer of children’s stories, a musician and a student of psychology but the end of her life was brought about by her activities under cover in France during the Second World War. She was the British Special Operations’ Executive’s first female agent to be sent to occupied France and her fluent French made her an extremely useful asset. Fatal for Noor though was the infiltration of her Resistance group by German spies. She was captured and one year later sent to Dachau to be executed. After her death her bravery was not forgotten and she was awarded both the French Croix de Guerre and the British George Cross. With luck her contemporary advocates will raise the £60,000 needed to make the plans for her memorial a reality.

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