Mountbatten was a British naval officer who oversaw the defeat of the Japanese offensive towards India during World War Two. He was appointed the last viceroy of British India and first governor general of independent India.
Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten was born in Windsor on 25 June 1900. A German aristocrat, as the son of Prince Louis of Battenberg and Princess Victoria of Hesse, he also shared close links with the British royal family (his great grandmother was Queen Victoria and he himself was uncle to Prince Philip).
Mountbatten's father was first sea lord at the outbreak of World War One, but anti-German feeling forced his resignation. In 1917, the family changed their name from Battenberg to the less-Germanic sounding Mountbatten.
Mountbatten, known as 'Dickie' to family and close friends, was educated mainly at home until 1914 when he went to the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth. He joined the Royal Navy in 1916 and saw action in World War One, then briefly attended Cambridge University for a year after the war.
Mountbatten spent the inter-war period pursuing his naval career, where he specialised in communications. In 1934, he received his first command on the destroyer, HMS 'Daring'. In June 1939, shortly before the outbreak of war, Mountbatten gained command of a flotilla of destroyers which saw considerable action in the Mediterranean. In May 1941, his ship HMS 'Kelly' was sunk by German dive bombers off the coast of Crete with the loss of more than half the crew. 'Kelly' and her captain were later immortalised in Noel Coward's film 'In Which We Serve'.
In April 1942, Mountbatten was appointed chief of combined operations, with responsibility for the preparation of the eventual invasion of occupied Europe. In the meantime, he organised raids against Europe's coastline, overseeing the disastrous Dieppe raid of August 1942. In October 1943, he became the supreme allied commander, South East Asia Command (SEAC), a position he held until 1946. Working with General William Slim, Mountbatten achieved the defeat of the Japanese offensive towards India and the reconquest of Burma. In September 1945, he received the Japanese surrender at Singapore.
In March 1947, Mountbatten became viceroy of India with a mandate to oversee the British withdrawal. He established good relations with leading politicians, particularly with Jawaharlal Nehru, but was unable to persuade the Muslim leader Mohammad Ali Jinnah of the benefits of a united, independent India.
Mountbatten soon gave up hope of a united country and on 14-15 August 1947, British India was partitioned into the new states of India and Pakistan. This resulted in widespread inter-communal violence, particularly in the Punjab, which now sat in East India, and West Pakistan. There were huge population movements as 3.5 million Hindus and Sikhs fled from the areas that had become Pakistan and around five million Muslims migrated to Pakistan.
Mountbatten remained as interim governor-general of India until June 1948. For his services during the war and in India he was created viscount in 1946 and Earl Mountbatten of Burma the following year.
In 1953, Mountbatten returned to the Royal Navy, becoming commander of a new NATO Mediterranean command. Then in 1954 he was appointed first sea lord, a position which had been held by his father more than 40 years before. Finally, in 1959, he became chief of the defence staff, then in 1965 he retired from the navy.
On 27 August 1979, Mountbatten was murdered when IRA terrorists blew up his boat off the coast of County Sligo, Ireland, near his family holiday home at Classiebawn Castle. Two of Mountbatten's relations and a 15-year old local boy were also killed.
Mountbatten's funeral took place in Westminster Abbey and he was buried at Romsey Abbey, near Broadlands. He had no sons, which meant that Mountbatten's eldest daughter, Patricia, inherited his title.
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