1900 - 1979
25th June 1900, at Frogmore House, Windsor. Mountbatten was the
younger son of Prince Louis of Battenburg, and great-grandson of
Queen Victoria. In 1913, he joined the Royal Naval College
Osborne as a Cadet. In July 1916, he was assigned as Midshipman
to Admiral Beatty’s flagship HMS Lion, and in February 1917, he
transferred to HMS Queen Elizabeth. In July 1918, he was made a
Sub-Lieutenant and appointed second in command of the Patrol
In 1919, Mountbatten was sent to Christ’s College, Cambridge.
Whilst at Cambridge, the Prince of Wales invited his cousin to
attend him on the forthcoming tour of Australasia in HMS Renown,
and for his services during that tour, was invited to join the
Royal Tour to India and Japan in the winter of 1921-2, and it
was in India that Mountbatten became engaged to Edwina Ashley
and married her on 18 July 1922.
In 1923, Mountbatten joined HMS Revenge, and specialised in
radio communications. He was appointed as Assistant Fleet
Wireless Officer in 1927, and Fleet Wireless Officer in 1931,
serving in the Mediterranean and at Portsmouth. In 1932, he was
promoted Commander and in April 1934 he obtained his first
command, on the destroyer HMS Daring, and a few months later
commanded HMS Wishart. In 1936, he was appointed to the Naval
Air Division of the Admiralty.
Since 1938, Mountbatten had been contributing ideas to the
construction of a new destroyer, HMS Kelly, and in June 1939, he
took over as Captain, and on 20th September 1939 he was in
command of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla. Whilst going to the
assistance of a tanker which had been mined, Kelly was also
mined and badly damaged. She was again put out of action in
collision with HMS Mohawk early in 1940, but was repaired in
time to play an important role in the evacuation of the allied
force from Namsos after the German invasion of Norway in May
1940. On 23rd May 1941, during the battle of Crete, the ship was
sunk; Mountbatten was one of the survivors but more than half of
the crew were lost. Mountbatten’s sea service came to end after
this event. In 1941, he was appointed Advisor on Combined
Operations with the rank of Commodore, and became Chief of
Combined Operations in April 1942, with the concurrent ranks of
Vice-Admiral, Air Marshal and Lieutenant-General. Whilst in this
position, he oversaw successful raids on St Nazaire, Vaagso and
Bruneval, but tempered with the disastrous raid on Dieppe. He
made a large contribution in planning the landing operations in
North Africa (1942) and Sicily (1943), and the planning of the
Normandy invasion in 1944.
In October 1943, Mountbatten was appointed Supreme Allied
Commander, South East Asia. In this position he set about
raising the morale of the Allied forces in Burma, which had come
to think they were the ‘forgotten army’. The reconquest of Burma
was finally achieved during 1945, and on the 12th September
1945, Mountbatten accepted the formal surrender of the Japanese
Expeditionary Force, Southern Region, in Singapore.
In June 1946, Mountbatten was raised to the peerage as Viscount
Mountbatten of Burma. While preparing to return to his naval
career, the Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, asked him to
undertake the role of Viceroy of India, with the task of
transferring sovereignty of India from the British crown to
independent rule. Independence was achieved within five months
of his arrival, although in the form of two independent states,
India and Pakistan, amidst widespread massacres and riots.
At the end of 1947, he was created Earl Mountbatten of Burma,
but continued to serve as Governor-General in India under the
new constitution until June 1948. On his return home, he was
promoted Vice-Admiral in 1949, and in 1950 appointed as Fourth
Sea Lord, concerned with supplies and transport. In June 1952,
he was given appointed Commander in Chief, Mediterranean Fleet,
and, in the following year, was promoted to Admiral, and
appointed Supreme Allied Commander of a new NATO Mediterranean
command, in charge of the Mediterranean fleets of Britain,
France, Italy, Greece, and Turkey. One of his tasks was to
establish an integrated international naval/air headquarters in
In October 1954, Mountbatten became First Sea Lord, a position
he held until 1959. In July 1959, he was appointed Chief of
Defence Staff, and his main achievement was his reorganisation
of the three individual service ministries, into a single,
coordinated Ministry of Defence in 1964. In July 1965 he retired
from naval service, but, the following year, the Home Secretary
asked him to undertake an enquiry into prison security, in
response to recent escapes. Mountbatten’s report was completed
in two months, and most of the recommendations were implemented.
In his retirement, he continued to be extremely active, becoming
Colonel of the Life Guards in 1965, and Governor of the Isle of
Wight, becoming the first Lord Lieutenant when the island
received shire status in 1974. In 1966, he was occupied by the
filming of a television documentary series about his life but
also devoted much time to running the family estates, putting
his massive archive in order, and, in 1978, oversaw the opening
of Broadlands to the public. In May 1979, he delivered one of
his last major speeches at Strasbourg on the need for arms
On the 27th August 1979, Mountbatten was killed by an IRA bomb,
when he and his family were out sailing, whilst on holiday at
his Irish home Classiebawn Castle, in County Sligo. His funeral
took place in Westminster Abbey and he was buried in Romsey
Abbey. During his lifetime, Mountbatten had received numerous
honours, and honorary degrees.
Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten
Louis Mountbatten (1900-1979) was one of the last of Britain's
great war heroes. After his assassination by the IRA in 1979,
the world joined Britain and India in mourning the loss of one
of the most celebrated military men of the twentieth century.
Agreat-grandson of Queen Victoria was born June 25, 1900, on the
grounds at Windsor Castle, and one month later was christened
Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas. He was Prince Louis of
Battenberg, born to Prince Louis and Princess Victoria
(granddaughter of Queen Victoria), and his family had a rich and
proud history of military service. Louis of Battenberg not only
lived up to his family expectations, he surpassed them.
Two popular anecdotes from his early years followed Battenberg
the rest of his life. The first was how as an infant he knocked
the spectacles off his great-grandmother, Queen Victoria just
moments before his christening. The second was how he received
his nickname, "Dickie." From early on his family referred to him
as "Nicky, " but a visit from Czar Nicholas of Russia prompted a
change to Dickie, and the name stayed with him for life.
Early in His Career
Prince Louis of Battenberg was mostly home-schooled during the
early years and attended Lockers Park preparatory boarding
school before entering Osborne Naval Training College (the Royal
Navy) at age 13; he entered Dartmouth Naval College a year
later. In 1916 he served in Admiral Sir David Beatty's flagship
H.M.S. Lion as a Midshipman.
At this time, Battenberg was making friends with Winston
Churchill, his cousin "David, " (the future King Edward VIII)
and most of the women he met. Soon he had the reputation of a
playboy. Early on, it wasn't evident that Battenberg would be a
success. His academic performance was only marginal, and he
hadn't made a name for himself anywhere else. A shake-up in his
family in regards to their heritage (and name) sobered his
During World War I, everything German and German-related was
vilified in England. King George V, the grandson of the
half-German Queen Victoria and the German Prince Albert, feared
the wave of anti-German hysteria could reach the British Royal
Family. Because of his German lineage, the senior Prince Louis
of Battenberg was stripped of his title and position in the
navy, and as a result, the title of "prince" was lost for the
younger Louis as well. His father became the first Marquess of
Milford Haven, and the family anglicized their name to
Mountbatten. With newfound determination, Mountbatten gradually
climbed the ranks through the navy.
In the summer of 1922 Mountbatten married Edwina Cynthia Annette
Ashley. She was the heir to a sizable fortune, providing the
couple with a comfortable lifestyle for the rest of their lives.
Two years later, they had a daughter, Patricia. Another
daughter, Pamela, was born seven years later. Anne Edwards, a
biographer of Queen Elizabeth II, noted in her book The Royal
Sisters that Mountbatten was "fond of children … a devoted
father … and a concerned uncle to his sister's … son, Philip."
(Philip, who later married the future Queen Elizabeth II, and
his family were members of the exiled royal family of Greece.)
His Contributions to the Royal Navy
Mountbatten was successful in his professional life as well as
his personal life. He created a device that bore his name and
became standard equipment for all ships in the Royal Navy. The
device enabled ships to keep an assured, clear distance from one
another while steaming in line. He also pushed for arming
British ships with machine guns. These guns provided excellent
defense aerial attacks during World War II.
In 1939 he was promoted to Captain. Two years later Prime
Minister Winston Churchill appointed Mountbatten Chief of
Combined Operations with rank of Acting Vice-Admiral. He was in
charge of planning the European Invasion. He also directed the
invasion of Madagascar and commando raids on Norway and France.
These raids became known as "butcher and bolt" raids and often
left more casualties than success.
In 1943 Churchill and Roosevelt named Mountbatten the Supreme
Allied Commander for Southeast Asia. He served in that capacity
until 1946 and was responsible for the recapture of Burma from
Japan. In 1945 he accepted the Japanese surrender at Singapore.
Throughout the war Mountbatten's wife worked near her husband,
working for the welfare of the wounded, and after the war, she
aided many prisoners of war. Together the press referred to
Mountbatten and his wife as "The Fabulous Mountbattens, " and
their popularity with servicemen and crew.
After the war, Mountbatten served as the last viceroy (governor
of a country who rules as the representative of his king) of
India from March through August of 1947. He oversaw the creation
of India and Pakistan through negotiations with the Hindus and
the Moslems. Although Britain was weakened from the war and
could no longer hold onto India, many of the upperclass in
England viewed Mountbatten as a traitor to his class and country
for being instrumental in the dissolution of the British Empire.
During this time the title Lord Mountbatten of Burma was
created; he also served as Governor-General of India for a year,
from 1947-1948. He also, according to Edwards, attended "the
wedding that had been his lifelong dream-his nephew Philip
[married] the future Queen of England" in November, 1947.
Edwards noted that it really wasn't a secret that "from early in
his youth, Philip had been a pawn in his uncle's ambitions … and
was being groomed for the future role of Prince Consort."
The next year Mountbatten was promoted to Vice-Admiral. The rank
of Fourth Sea Lord followed in 1950. He also served as Chief of
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in the
Mediterranean. Promotions continued-to Admiral the following
year-and he attained the height of his professional career on
April 18, 1955, when he was named First Sea Lord. This was the
exact title stripped from his father all those years ago. The
following year he was promoted Admiral of the Fleet. In these
capacities Mountbatten oversaw numerous changes in Britain's
defense system, such as guided missile ships and nuclear
It was also around this time that he became the confidant of his
great-nephew, Prince Charles, the future king of England.
According to the A & E Biography profile Prince Charles: Born to
be King, Charles turned to Mountbatten for "support and
guidance, " and viewed him as a "honorary grandfather."
Throughout his career, Mountbatten was known to be ruthless. He
used his status to get his way, and often publically and
privately criticized his peers. He also enjoyed both recognition
for his successes and ceremonies where he could dress in his
military uniform, adorned in medals and honors. In his obituary,
The New York Times attributed the following quote to
Mountbatten, "I am the most conceited man I have ever known."
This attitude often alienated Mountbatten from his peers and
simultaneously made him popular with commoners.
The End of His Life
His wife died in 1960, and Mountbatten retired five years later,
though he remained a confidant to Queen Elizabeth II and his
nephew, Prince Philip. He also continued to advise Prince
Charles, according to the A & E profile, encouraging Charles to
join the Royal Navy and "to play the field and have lots of
affairs before he settled down." Although he was often
considered irritating and annoying, Mountbatten was respected by
both royalty and ordinary people, and was almost universally
In 1979, a bomb demolished his fishing boat in waters off the
northwest coast of Ireland near his family summer home, on
August 27. Mountbatten, his 14-year-old grandson, and a friend
of his grandson were all killed instantly. He became the IRA's
most famous victim. A member of the Provisional wing of the
Irish Republican Army (IRA) was later convicted of his murder.
Mountbatten's funeral at Westminster Abbey was considered the
most-outstanding tribute to any military personnel since the
Duke of Wellington was buried in 1852. His great-nephew, Prince
Charles, was one of many who paid tribute to him at the funeral.
He was buried in an abbey at Romsey near his Hampshire home.
After 50 years of service to the Royal Navy, he was buried
facing the sea.
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This web page was last updated on:
13 December, 2008