Exhibition aims to bring story of Noor Inayat Khan to a new generation

Noor Inayat Khan (Photo: The Commonwealth War Graves Commission)
Noor Inayat Khan (Photo: The Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

A NEW exhibition chronicling the story of Noor Inayat Khan, an Asian spy princess, is in the works at the Commonwealth War Graves Foundation.

The foundation announced on Wednesday (3) that it has secured a £60,000 grant from Biffa Award as part of the Association of Independent Museums History Makers programme, and the fund will be used for an exhibition that will inspire the public through the lives and achievements of historical figures.

The digital exhibition is for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Runnymede Air Forces Memorial, and the CWGF will work with young women and girls from the Girlguiding organisation, to make Noor’s story relevant and engaging for a younger generation of visitors.

Julian Evans, director of International and Public Engagement said: “This grant will enable us to explore the story of the CWGC Runnymede Air Forces Memorial in a way that engages young people. We want to work with young women to share Noor’s scientific and technical achievements and inspire them though her bravery and sacrifice.”

Born in Russia in 1914, the Indian-origin princess grew up in London and Paris. When the German army invaded France in May 1940, Noor escaped to Britain as a refugee. In 1940 Noor enlisted in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) aged 26 years old. With experience in producing children’s radio, she trained as a wireless operator. In 1943 she was recruited into the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and on 16 June became the first female wireless operator sent into occupied France.

She was eventually captured and sent to Dachau concentration camp where she was killed.

The exhibition is also expected to help visitors to better understand Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Runnymede Air Forces Memorial and discover more about the other 20,000 airmen and women who were lost during operations from bases in the United Kingdom and North and Western Europe, who have no known grave.