In a new temporary exhibition on display at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu from 3rd -22nd October, Liberté – Remembering Noor Inayat Khan, discover the inspirational story of Special Operations Executive agent (SOE), Noor Inayat Khan, who was trained on the Beaulieu Estate. She was the first female radio operator to be dropped behind enemy lines in World War Two.
On the exhibition’s opening day, 3rd October, Shrabani Basu, author of The Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan will be giving talks at 11.30am and 2.30pm. Daily, during the exhibition’s run, visitors can also watch a 20-minute dramatised film, inspired by Snowdrop, a short story written by Noor Inayat Khan. The exhibition, developed by Arts Asia to mark Noor Inayat Khan’s birth centenary, charts her royal Indian ancestry, Sufi spirituality, accomplishments as an author and the events that led to her execution at Dachau in 1944.
A descendant of the legendary ruler of Mysore (a kingdom in South India), Noor Inayat Khan’s early life was spent in Paris, where she was celebrating the publication of her first book when war broke out. Fleeing to London as a refugee, the Special Operations Executive was impressed with her knowledge of French and familiarity with Paris; she was recruited and trained to become an agent. As the situation in France became more dangerous, the agents were asked to return – but Noor refused to leave.
She was successful for a time, outwitting the Gestapo by changing her appearance and transmitting from varied locations, but – despite two daring escapes – was eventually captured. Transported to a German prison, Noor was kept in isolation, interrogated and tortured. However, she revealed nothing, and ten months later she was taken to Dachau concentration camp and executed.
For her courageous acts Noor Inayat Khan was posthumously awarded the highest civilian honour by both Britain and France – the George Cross and the Croix de Guerre. The exhibition can be seen as part of a visit to the whole Beaulieu attraction which also includes Secret Army, a permanent exhibition telling the story of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) who completed their secret training at the Beaulieu ‘Finishing School’ during World War Two.
For more information visit www.beaulieu.co.uk