Lord Louis Mountbatten was born under the name Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Battenberg on June 25, 1900. His father was Prince Louis Battenberg, and his mother was Princess Alice, granddaughter of Queen Victoria. He was related to British, Russian, Spanish, Romanian, Swedish, Greek and Norwegian royals.
joined the Royal Navy at 13 and went to the Royal Navy College. He was a
great oarsman and won every boat race he entered. The sport that he was best
at was polo, and he was captain of the Navy Polo Team that won 110 cups. He
also wrote a book about polo that is still popular.
He was a cadet at Osborne
when WWI started, and he served aboard the “Lion” and “Elizabeth”
for two years. Louis was talented in wireless communication, and he invented lots of
devices that were adopted by the Royal Navy. He also wrote two handbooks on
wireless telegraphy for the Navy. At that time the family changed its name
In 1922 he married Edwina
Ashley in London and honeymooned in America.
Mountbatten stayed in the Royal Navy between the World Wars and commanded the destroyers H.M.S.
Wishart and H.M.S. Daring.
When W.W.II started he
commanded the 5th Destroyer Flotilla and was the captain of
H.M.S. Kelly. He gained a reputation of being daring and lucky. The H.M.S.
Kelly was torpedoed while in battle and was towed back to port, while
many air attacks, and it took 92 hours. While the Kelly
was under repairs he
was in charge of another destroyer, the H.M.S. Javelin. It too was attacked
and had its bow and stern blown off but also made it back to port under
tow. He was really lucky!
Shortly before the invasion
of Europe by the Allied Forces, Winston Churchill appointed Mountbatten Head
of Combined Operation Command with the title of Lt. General and Air
Marshall. It was his job to help plan and prepare for the D-Day Invasion. He
used his experiences from other raids to plan the big invasions
Africa, Italy and eventually France. From those operations, Mountbatten
realized two elements for success: suppressive bombardment and mobile harbor
In planning the invasion
into France, most planners wanted to land in Calais but Mountbatten wanted
Normandy. Hitler put 25 divisions into Calais and that convinced planners
that Lord Mountbatten was right, and they made the choice to land at
Normandy. His ideas helped to make the invasion a success, and as a result
many of the people living in France were freed from
the rule of the German Army. He helped to bring peace to Europe.
In October of 1943,
Churchill gave Mountbatten the position of Head of Southeast Asia Command.
It was there that he planned and directed the freedom of Burma and Singapore
from the Japanese Army. Many of the troops who fought for Britain in Asia
felt that they had been forgotten by the military and by the people back
home. Mountbatten used his charm to raise spirits. But this problem was best
solved by victories against the Japanese at Arakan and Imphal.
British forces had held
their ground against the Japanese encirclement tactics and continued to
fight through the rainy season in order to prevent the Japanese from
regrouping. This strategy turned the tide for Britain in that war.
Also, he created the Medical Advisory Division that worked to reduce the
malaria sick rate among soldiers. Aided by these two developments, General
Slim and Mountbatten pushed the Japanese out of Burma with victories at
Meiktila and Mandalay, and they eventually entered Rangoon unopposed in May
After the war, Mountbatten
directed the transition from military to civilian government in Southeast
He believed that the Asians
and British should be friends and that the practice of self-determination
should be respected, and he worked to make that happen in Burma and
As India’s first
Governor-general, Mountbatten felt that the Maharaja (king/ruler) of Kashmir
should decide whether to remain independent, join India or join Pakistan. He
also suggested making the Kashmir issue an international issue after battles
over the area by India and Pakistan. When Pakistani tribals invaded the
state of Kashmir in October 1947, Maharaja Singh asked India for help but
Mountbatten held back. His argument was that he could not send troops as the
General in charge of the situation was the Commander of Indian and Pakistani
troops, and Mountbatten did not want to face a situation of British troops
fighting each other. Maharaja Singh had to decide whether to join India or
Pakistan before armies could be sent. On October 26, 1947 Singh signed the
agreement to join India.
decided that the agreement was temporary and that the people of Kashmir
would have to decide which country to join on the basis of a vote under the
rules of the United Nations.
“Part Three” of the
United Nations ruling mandated that the people of Kashmir would decide the
future of Kashmir, and it was this suggestion by Mountbatten that ensured
that the issue would remain a point of disagreement. To this day it prevents
India and Pakistan from living peacefully together.
After leaving his post as
the last Viceroy (governor) to India, Mountbatten returned to the Royal Navy
and served in the Mediterranean from 1948 to 1956. He was appointed Chief of
Defense Staff and oversaw the integration of the War Ministry, Air Ministry
and Admiralty into one new office called the “Ministry of Defense”.
He was very involved in
Britain’s nuclear policy, and was part of the construction of Britain’s
first nuclear submarine, the “Dreadnought”, even though he was afraid
that it may be used. He also was involved in the defense of Malaysia and
Singapore during the “Confrontation with Indonesia”, and was happy that
it was resolved “quietly, efficiently, and with a very low cost of
He retired thereafter and
was spent his last years working on prison reform and diplomatic visits. He
enjoyed his royal ceremonial duties such as his appointment as “Colonel of
the Life Guards” and “Personal ADC to the Queen”.
The Irish Republican Army planted a bomb in his
boat and assassinated him in 1979.
Mountbatten played an important part in both the making of peace and the breaking of peace for more than 40 years in many parts of the world.
Cambridge University Heraldic and General Society. "Earl Mountbatten of Burma." <http://www.cam.ac.uk/soxieties/cuhags> (March 2003).
Camelot Village: Britain's heritage and history. "Broodlands-Lord Mountbatten highlights of his life." <http://www.camelotintl.com/heritage/historichouses> (February, 2003).
Times. com-Project Kashmir. "Faces of
Spartacus Schoolnet. "Lord Mountbatten." at <http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2wwmountbatten.htm> (February, 2003).
Images of British flags, navy boats, planners, landing raft, map, Indian flag, and boat from "Microsoft Office Design Gallery Live" <http://dgl.microsoft.com/?CAG=1> Images free for non-profit and personal use. (December-March, 2003).
Image of Mountbatten on carrier from "ArtToday.com" <http://members.clipart.com/en/index> (2003).
[Ayatollah Khomeini | Tony Blair | Napoleon Bonaparte | George W. Bush | Jimmy Carter | Catherine the Great | Charlemagne | Winston Churchill | Queen Elizabeth | Benjamin Franklin | Mahatma Gandhi | Adolf Hitler | Genghis Kahn | Abraham Lincoln | Nelson Mandela | Golda Meir | Ho Chi Minh | Lord Louis Mountbatten | Ronald Reagan | Joseph Stalin | Tiananmen Rebel | Margaret Thatcher | Lech Walesa | George Washington | Mao Zedong]