Lord Louis Mountbatten, head of Combined Operations in World War Two, was born in 1900, the great grandson of Queen Victoria. During the war, Mountbatten found fame in the Royal Navy but also as the man who believed in the value of small specialist units that could operate behind enemy lines – or sabotage key enemy bases. Such a view was not universally shared amongst the military’s hierarchy at the start of the war.
In October 1941, Mountbatten was appointed head of Combined Operations by Winston Churchill. Mountbatten supported the use of commandos and took personal charge of the Small Scale Raiding Force. Mountbatten had charge of the disastrous Dieppe raid in 1942. Many saw this as an ‘experiment’ for a much greater landing to come – D-Day in 1944. Much blood was split at Dieppe and many lives were lost. However, Combined Operations also learned a great deal about amphibious landings – lessons that were learned and put into operation in June 1944. The disaster of Dieppe could have ended Mountbatten’s military career. Not everyone had approved of his promotion at such a young age to head of Combined Operations and some said the failure at Dieppe reflected his lack of experience. However, Churchill stood by him and in 1943 appointed Mountbatten head of the South-East Asia Command (SEAC). Here he worked with the Americans to liberate Japanese occupied territory. Mountbatten attended the Royal Navy’s college at Dartmouth between 1913 and 1916. During World War One, he served on board HMS Lion and HMS Elizabeth. When the war ended, Mountbatten continued his career in the navy and by the time World War Two was declared in 1939, he had the rank of captain, and commanded the fifth destroyer flotilla. Mountbatten commanded HMS Kelly.
He gained a reputation in the Far East for integrity and Clement Atlee, the Labour Prime Minister, appointed him as Viceroy of India in February 1947 with the difficult task of overseeing the independence of India and Pakistan. After such a difficult task, which many believed Mountbatten handled with skill, he returned to the Navy.
In 1955, Mountbatten was appointed First Sea Lord and between 1959 and 1965, he was Chief of Defence Staff.
On August 27th, 1979, Mountbatten was murdered by a bomb planted by the IRA on his boat while he was sailing in County Sligo.