Maritime Monday for January 21st, 2013; It Aint WHAT Ya Know…

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January 20, 2013


Prince Louis of Battenberg
“He was born a Serene Highness but he has lived it down.”
Original (1940 x 3200)

Artist: Leslie Matthew Ward, aka SPY, 1851-1922
Lithograph Feb. 16, 1905 — Vanity Fair portrait, Men of the Day

Admiral of the Fleet Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas George Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma (aka Dickie) 1900 – 1979; uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and second cousin once removed to Elizabeth II.

wiki: From 1954 until 1959 he was the First Sea Lord, a position that had been held by his father, Prince Louis of Battenberg, some forty years earlier. Educated at  Royal Naval College, Osborne starting in May 1913.

In 1914, because of the growing anti-German sentiments that swept across Europe during the first few months of World War I, Prince Louis of Battenberg was removed from his position as First Sea Lord and publicly humiliated by King George V and First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill. Though both men professed ‘”sadness” at having to do this, private conversations and letters show them both perfectly happy to sacrifice their “blue-eyed German”.


Louis was posted as midshipman to the battlecruiser HMS Lion (1910) in July 1916 (image 1677×1275) which served as the flagship of the Grand Fleet’s battlecruisers throughout World War I.

During the Battle of Jutland she suffered a serious propellant fire that could have destroyed the ship had it not been for the bravery of Royal Marine Major Francis Harvey, the turret commander, who posthumously received the Victoria Cross for having ordered the magazine flooded.

– more about Lion Class Battle-Cruiser HMS Lion on ShipsNostalgia –


HMS Queen Elizabeth (image source)

After seeing action in August 1916, Mountbatten transferred to the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth (1913) during the closing phases of World War I.

HMS Queen Elizabeth (pennant number 00) was the lead ship of the Queen Elizabeth-class of dreadnought battleships, named in honour of Elizabeth I of England. She saw service in both World Wars. A Super-Dreadnought class of battleships, she and the other vessels in the class were the first ships of their type to be powered by oil instead of coal.

She, along with HMS Valiant, was mined and seriously damaged by Italian frogmen in an attack on 19 December 1941 in shallow water in the harbour at Alexandria, Egypt, with the loss of nine men of her complement. –wiki

HMS Queen Elizabeth Photo Gallery on Maritimequest

HMS Queen Elizabeth (ship, 1913)
on wikimedia-commons (more photos)


HMS Renown (1916)
gallery on MaritimeQuest

After completion of an engineering program at Cambridge, he was posted to the battlecruiser HMS Renown (1916) in March 1920.

Renown and her sister HMS Repulse, were the world’s fastest capital ships upon completion. Dickie accompanied Edward, Prince of Wales on a Royal tour of India and Japan. Edward and Mountbatten formed a close friendship during the trip.

Promoted to lieutenant on 15 April 1920, Mountbatten transferred to Repulse in March 1921. Later posted to the battleship HMS Revenge in the Mediterranean Fleet in January 1923.


Edward, Prince of Wales, and Lord Louis Mountbatten sharing
a small canvas pool on the deck of a ship, 1920

Mountbatten joined the Portsmouth Signals School in August 1924 and then went on to briefly study electronics at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.  He was posted to the battleship HMS Centurion (1911) in the Reserve Fleet in 1926 and became Assistant Fleet Wireless and Signals Officer of the Mediterranean Fleet.


HMS Centurion

Centurion was decommissioned and made a target ship to replace HMS Agamemnon in 1924. She remained in this role at Portsmouth Harbour until April 1941. +

In June 1942, she sailed with Operation Vigorous in the eastern Mediterranean to simulate an operational battleship. Between 1942 and 1944 Centurion was stationed off Suez as an anti-aircraft ship and to give pause to Regia Marina action in the area—the Italians thought that her false wooden 13.5-inch guns were real and kept their superdreadnoughts away.

Her final act after a long and somewhat understated career was to be sunk as a breakwater off the Normandy beaches after D-Day. Reportedly the Germans thought that the old vessel had been sunk by shore batteries of the German 352nd Division with great loss of life when only 70 crewmen were observed leaving the sinking vessel; in fact the 70 men were the entire crew. +


Mountbatten was promoted to commander on 31 December 1932 and posted to the battleship HMS Resolution (1909). Between the Wars, she served in the Atlantic Fleet, with the exception of a short refit in 1930-1931.

In September 1943, HMS Resolution became a stokers’ training ship. Sold for scrap on 5 May 1948.

Above:  HMS Resolution in Floating Dock at Devonport


HMS Daring (H16)
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

In 1934, Mountbatten was appointed to his first command – the destroyer HMS Daring (H16), a destroyer built for the Royal Navy in the early 1930s.
see full size 1474 × 525 — (stats page)

Daring escorted convoys in the Red Sea in October–November 1939 and then returned to the UK in January 1940 for the first time in five years. While escorting a convoy from Norway, she was sunk by the German submarine U-23 in February 1940.

In July 1939 Mountbatten was granted a patent (UK Number 508,956) for a system for maintaining a warship in a fixed position relative to another ship.


Destroyer Captain: Captain Lord Louis Mountbatten escorts
HRH The Duke of Kent on an inspection of HMS KELLY at Devonport

In 1939, Mountbatten became commander of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla aboard his ship Kelly, which was famous for its many daring exploits. In early May 1940, Mountbatten led a British convoy in through the fog to evacuate the Allied forces participating in the Namsos Campaign during the Norwegian Campaign.


HMS KELLY: a K class destroyer built in 1938 by Hawthorne Leslie & Company at Hebburn. Commissioned just 11 days before the outbreak of the Second World War.

painting: HMS KELLY By Robert Taylor


 poster: In Which We Serve (1942)

Her four-day struggle to reach the Tyne after being badly damaged in action became a celebrated naval story of the war.  Kelly was the inspiration for the 1942 film In Which We Serve, directed by David Lean & starring Noel Coward. Coward was a personal friend of Mountbatten, and copied some of his speeches into the film. +


Hospital ship Maine, which took care of the Kelly’s survivors

On May 9, 1940, the destroyer HMS Kelly, captained by Lord Louis Mountbatten, was torpedoed by German motor-torpedo boat S31 off the Dutch coast

RFA Maine (1924) was a 7,432 GRT hospital ship which was built in 1924 as the ocean liner Leonardo da Vinci by SA Ansaldo, La Spezia, Italy for the Società di Navigazione Transatlantica Italiana.

In 1941, she was captured by the British at Kismayu, Italian Somaliland; declared a prize of war, passed to the Ministry of War Transport  and renamed Empire Clyde, serving as a hospital ship for the British Army during the Second World War.

In 1948, ownership was passed to the Admiralty and she entered service with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary as RFA Maine. She served during the Korean War and was scrapped in 1954.


Mountbatten was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in January 1941. In August, he was appointed captain of the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (87), which was laid up for repairs in Norfolk, VA.

During the lull, Mountbatten paid a flying visit to Pearl Harbor, it is alleged he was not impressed with the poor state of readiness.

image above: The Art of HMS Illustrious on MaritimeQuest


Mountbatten, General Walter Short, Admiral Husband Kimmel in Hawaii 1941

27 October 1941 Mountbatten replaces Roger Keyes as Chief of Combined Operations and is promoted to Commodore.


Captain Lord Louis Mountbatten on the bridge of HMS JACKAL

By July 1942 he was actively planning the disastrous Dieppe raid (which some among the Allied forces, notably Field Marshal Montgomery, later claimed was ill-conceived from the start). The raid on Dieppe was widely considered a disaster, with casualties (including those wounded or taken prisoner) numbering in the thousands.


Just before 5am on the 19th August 1942, the Allied forces launched a sea bound attack on the German occupied port of Dieppe on the north coast of France. ‘Operation Rutter’ as it was known was to prove one of the most disastrous missions of the Second World War. Almost 60% of the 6000 men who took part in the operation would not be going home.

The Dieppe Raid: A Mission That Went Badly Wrong


 Launching of the aircraft carrier HMS INDEFATIGABLE (R10) 

8 December 1942 — The Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven at Glasgow, Her son Lord Louis Mountbatten, Lady Mountbatten and Miss Patricia Mountbatten were also present.


Proposed WWII UK Aircraft Carrier made of an iceberg (more)

Another idea that Mountbatten pitched to Churchill was Project Habakkuk. It was to be a massive and impregnable 600-metre aircraft carrier made from Pykrete; (a mixture of wood pulp and ice). Experiments on the viability of Pykrete and the optimum composition of it were conducted in a secret location underneath Smithfield Meat Market in the City of London. The research took place in a refrigerated meat locker behind a protective screen of frozen animal carcasses.

By summer of 1943, The requirements for the vessel had become more demanding: it had to have a range of 7,000 miles (11,000 km) and be able to withstand the largest waves recorded. The Admiralty wanted it to be torpedo-proof, which meant that the hull had to be at least 40 ft (12 m) thick.

Habakkuk was never carried out due to its enormous cost.


Mulberry harbour at Arromanches for the WWII D-Day landings of 1944
In pictures: A short history of Butterley Engineering


Ships unloading onto a Spud pierhead at the British
prefabricated harbour, Mulberry B at Arromanches

More successful technical achievements of Mountbatten and his staff included the construction of an underwater oil pipeline from the English coast to Normandy, an artificial harbour constructed of concrete caissons and sunken ships (Mulberry harbour), and the development of amphibious tank-landing ships.

– a caisson for Mulberry Harbour being towed to Normandy –


In the 100 days after D-Day the Mulberry Harbours landed over 2.5 million men,
500,000 vehicles and over 4 million tonnes of supplies.


remains of WW2 Mulberry harbour section in Langstone Harbour
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 17th July 2006


Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten
by Artist William Little 1939-1946

(full size: 2,585 × 3,400 pixels)

In August 1943, Churchill appointed Mountbatten the Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia Command (SEAC) with promotion to the acting rank of full admiral. Most of his less practical ideas were sidelined by an experienced planning staff,  though some, such as a proposal to launch an amphibious assault near Rangoon, got as far as Churchill before being quashed.

see also: Operation Zipper – When XI Squadron RAF Joined the Navy

The South East Asia Command was dissolved in May 1946 and Mountbatten returned home with the substantive rank of Rear-Admiral.

He then served as commander of the 1st cruiser squadron in the Mediterranean Fleet and, having been granted the substantive rank of Vice Admiral on 22 June 1949, he became Second-in-Command of the Mediterranean Fleet in April 1950.

In June, he became Fourth Sea Lord at the Admiralty. Promoted to the substantive rank of Full Admiral on 27 February 1953, he served his final posting at the Admiralty as First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff from April 1955 to July 1959; the position which his father had held some forty years prior. This was the first time in Royal Naval history that a father and son had both attained such high rank.

While serving as FSLizzle, his primary concerns dealt with devising plans on how the Royal Navy would keep shipping lanes open if Britain fell victim to a nuclear attack. It’s said that Mountbatten had to be reassured that the fission reactions from the Bikini Atoll tests would not spread through the oceans and blow up the entire planet.


Mountbatten arrives on board HMS Glasgow at Malta
to assume command of the Mediterranean Fleet, 16 May 1952


HMS GLASGOW a Southampton class cruiser built in 1938

HMS Glasgow (C21) was Mountbatten’s flagship as Commander-in-Chief for the Mediterranean Fleet. Photograph taken in June 1953 as the ship was leaving Grand Harbour, Valletta for exercises off Malta.

Glasgow was placed on the disposal list in November 1956.


half length portrait of Lord Louis Mountbatten in naval uniform

Promoted to Admiral of the Fleet on 22 October 1956.

After leaving the Admiralty, Lord Mountbatten took the position of Chief of the Defence Staff. He served in this post for six years during which he was able to consolidate the three service departments of the military branch into a single Ministry of Defence.

Governor of the Isle of Wight from 20 July 1965, then the first Lord Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight from 1 April 1974.


Photo Archive search: Admiral of the Fleet Earl Mountbatten
on Imperial War Museum


Lord Louis Mountbatten, with his daughter and
grandchildren fishing whilst on holiday


Lord Louis Mountbatten Playing with a grandchild at his summer home
Mullaghmore, County Sligo; on the northwest coast of Ireland

On 27 August 1979, Mountbatten and his family went lobster-potting and tuna fishing in a thirty-foot wooden boat, the Shadow V, moored near his castle. Just a few hundred yards from the shore, a radio-controlled fifty-pound (23 kg) bomb attached to the boat was detonated, blowing the boat to fiery pieces.

Mountbatten, then aged 79, was fatally wounded. He was pulled alive from the water by nearby fishermen, but died from his injuries before being brought to the shore.

Others killed by the blast were his elder daughter’s 14-year-old son and Paul Maxwell, a 15-year-old crew member.

The Dowager Lady Brabourne, (his elder daughter’s 83-year-old mother-in-law) was seriously injured in the explosion but died from her injuries the following day.  Three others survived the explosion and were seriously injured.

The IRA claimed responsibility, saying:

“What the IRA did to him is what Mountbatten had been doing all his life to other people; and with his war record I don’t think he could have objected to dying in what was clearly a war situation. He knew the danger involved in coming to this country. In my opinion, the IRA achieved its objective: people started paying attention to what was happening in Ireland.”


9 September 1979: The Prince of Wales and Duke of Edinburgh attend the
funeral of Earl Louis Mountbatten (1900 – 1979) in full Naval regalia

A memorial service was held for Mountbatten in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin which was attended by many prominent personalities, including the president of Ireland. Mountbatten was buried in Romsey Abbey after a televised funeral.

On 23 November 1979, Thomas McMahon was convicted of murder for his part in planning the assassination. He was released in 1998. +

Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma
on wikipedia

Biography: Louis Mountbatten


Frank always looked forward to Navy Nite at the club.

Adventures of the Blackgang on tumblr
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