London, March 24: Britain’s Royal Mail Monday issued a postage stamp of Noor Inayat Khan, the World War II heroine, who was a descendant of Tipu Sultan, the remarkable 19th century ruler of Mysore kingdom.
The stamp – part of a set of 10 stamps in their ‘Remarkable Lives’ series — honours Noor on her centenary year of birth. Others honoured in the set include actor Sir Alec Guinness and the poet Dylan Thomas.
“I am delighted that Royal Mail has commemorated Noor with a stamp,” said Shrabani Basu, author of “Spy Princess, The Life of Noor Inayat Khan”, and the chair of the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust. “It will ensure that her sacrifice and bravery will not be forgotten. ”
Basu campaigned for a memorial for Noor which was unveiled in November 2012 by Princess Anne.
Noor Inayat Khan was born in Moscow in January 1914 to an Indian father, Hazrat Inayat Khan, and an American mother, Ora Ray Baker. The couple had met in the Ramakrishna Mission ashram in America. Hazrat Inayat Khan was a Sufi preacher and musician and travelled the world taking Sufism to the West.
Noor was brought up in Paris and the family moved to London when the city was occupied by the Germans in 1940 during the Second World War. In London, Noor joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and was later recruited for the Special Operations Executive, a secret organisation started by Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
She was the first woman radio operator to be flown undercover to Paris and worked from there for three months under the code name Madeleine. However she was betrayed, arrested and finally executed in Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany. Though she was tortured and interrogated, she revealed nothing, not even her real name. Her last word as they shot her was “Liberte”! She was only 30.
Noor was posthumously awarded the highest honour, the George Cross, by Britain. France awarded her the Croix de Guerre.
In 2006, President Pranab Mukherjee, then the defence minister of India, paid an official visit to Noor’s family house outside Paris and described her bravery and sacrifice as “inspirational”.