On this day in 1941, Captain Lord Louis Mountbatten, second cousin of King George VI of Britain and the only man other than the king to hold rank in all three military services simultaneously, is among those thrown into the Mediterranean Sea when his destroyer, the HMS Kelly, is sunk.
Mountbatten’s ship was among several British cruisers, destroyers, and battleships sunk off Crete by German dive-bombers. The Kelly was attacked by 24 bombers alone; 130 crewmembers were killed. Mountbatten was still on the bridge of the ship when it finally flipped over; nevertheless, he managed to swim to shore and take control of the rescue operation.
Mountbatten also served as Supreme Allied Commander of the Southeast Asia Theater, and returning to Burma in 1945, he would lead the surrender of Japanese land forces within Southeast Asia by General Sieshiro Itagaki. After WW2 he would serve as the last Viceroy of India, and then lead all Royal naval forces as First Sea Lord from 1954-59.
Returning to the Battle of Crete, just a day before the sinking of the Kelly, the battleship Valiant was damaged but not sunk during an equally vicious German air attack, which succeeded in sinking two cruisers and four destroyers. Among the crewmen of the Valiant was Lord Mountbatten’s nephew, Prince Philip of Greece; this same Prince is the Queen’s loyal husband the great-grandfather to new fresh Prince Archie.
Mountbatten survived the terror of war against the Axis powers, only to be killed by a 50-pound Irish Republic Army bomb, planted on his private boat, Shadow V, in 1979. Three additional family members were killed in the blast, including his nephews Nicholas, 14, and Paul, 15.
In their statement on the deaths, Sinn Fein stated “The IRA claim responsibility for the execution of Lord Louis Mountbatten. This operation is one of the discriminate ways we can bring to the attention of the English people the continuing occupation of our country.”