From pacifist to spy: WWII’s surprising secret agent - Shrabani Basu
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Only three British women were awarded the George Cross, the highest civilian honour: they were Noor Inayat Khan, Odette Hallowes and Violette Szabo. All three were from the F-section of the SOE, the section that worked in France. Thirty-nine women agents were sent to France. Thirteen never returned.
Noor Inayat Khan’s biography Spy Princess was published in 2006.
It was written after her secret files were declassified by the British government in 2003. An earlier biography written by her friend Jean Overton Fuller called Madeleine was published in 1952.
Further details about the SOE in France can be obtained from the book SOE in France by M.R.D. Foot. Details about the codes used by the SOE can be learnt from the memoir of the SOE code-maker Leo Marks in his book Between Silk and Cyanide. Details about other women secret agents in the SOE are available from The Women Who Lived for Danger by Marcus Binney and The Heroines of SOE: F Section: Britain's Secret Women in France by Beryl E. Escott.
Read a detailed review of Spy Princess in The Independent newspaper.
Further reviews of Spy Princess and details about Noor Inayat Khan from television and radio interviews can be accessed from the author’s website.
In 2012, after a major campaign by Shrabani Basu, a bust of Noor Inayat Khan was unveiled by Princess Anne in London’s Gordon Square. Watch the video of the unveiling on the website of the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust and learn more about the WWII heroine. In 2014 to mark her centenary, a special stamp was issued in her honour by Royal Mail. Her life has inspired plays, documentaries and dance performances.
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