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JUNE 25th

On this day in history in 1900, was born Louis Mountbatten.

Mountbatten was a quasi royal who served successfully as a naval commander and a diplomat.

Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas, Prince of Battenberg was born on 25th June 1900, at Frogmore House, Windsor, the fourth child of Prince Louis of Battenberg, a minor German prince, and Princess Victoria, granddaughter of Queen Victoria. His father, despite his German title, was a lifelong serving officer in the Royal Navy, and sent his sons into the service at the earliest possible age.

Young Louis entered the Royal Navy in 1913, just in time for the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. When war broke out, his father was First Sea Lord, but was compelled to resign, due to anti German sentiment. In 1917, the Royal Family dropped their German name and became the House of Windsor, and the Battenbergs abandoned their name and titles and became Mountbatten.

In 1922, Mountbatten married Edwina Ashley. In 1932, he was promoted to captain and, at the outbreak of The Second World War, he was in command of a destroyer flotilla. In 1941, he was given command of the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, and, while the vessel was laid up for repairs, paid a flying visit to Pearl Harbor, where he prophetically warned of the inadequate state of preparation for war. In 1942, he was named chief of combined operations and a member of the chiefs of staff, and in 1943 was appointed supreme allied commander for Southeast Asia, despite complains of nepotism against his cousin the King George VI. In the later years of the war, he conducted the campaign against Japan that led to the recapture of Burma.

After the war, Mountbatten was called on to become the last viceroy of India. The Labour government of Clement Atlee had decided that British control of India could no longer be sustained and that independence had to be granted. The plan was for a partition of the subcontinent into two states, a predominantly Hindu India and a Muslim Pakistan. Mountbatten’s duty was to persuade the Indian princes to merge their states into one of the two new nations. Due to his connections with royalty, the Indian princes felt confident in Mountbatten’s administration, and even those who had been implacably opposed to Indian self rule, came over to his way of thinking.

After India, Mountbatten served as First Sea Lord until 1965, finding great satisfaction in fulfilling the office his father had unfairly lost after accusation of German sympathies. In 1974, he became the first Lord Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight. In 1979, while on holiday in Ireland, he took out his yacht from the harbour of Mullaghmore. Sad to say, terrorists had fitted the craft with a fifty pound bomb, which detonated killing Mountbatten, together with his grandson and two others. Mountbatten died on 27th August 1979, and after a funeral service in Westminster Abbey, which he had planned himself, was buried in Romsey Abbey. [Romsey Abbey, Romsey, Hampshire, SO51 8EN]

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