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Page last updated at 11:25 GMT, Wednesday, 26 August 2009 12:25 UK
Mountbatten memories 30 years on

Lord Mountbatten of Burma
Lord Mountbatten of Burma

On the morning of 27 August 1979, Lord Louis Mountbatten was fishing on his boat, Shadow V, off the coast of County Sligo, Ireland, near his family holiday home at Classiebawn Castle.

The IRA detonated a bomb which had been planted on the boat, killing the 79-year-old cousin of the Queen instantly.

The Burma Star Association memorial statue in Southampton
The Burma Star Association memorial statue in Southampton

Nicholas, 14, one of Lord Mountbatten's twin grandsons and local teenager Paul Maxwell, 15, also died in the explosion. The Dowager Lady Brabourne, 83, died later from her injuries.

It marked one of the bloodiest days in Northern Ireland's Troubles - on the same day 18 soldiers were killed in two booby-trap bomb explosions near Warrenpoint, County Down.

It was a violent end to a remarkable life during which Lord Mountbatten was supreme allied commander in SE Asia, the last British viceroy of India, First Sea Lord and a leading member of the Royal Family.

His death was keenly felt in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight - his family home was at Broadlands near Romsey and he was Governor and Lord-Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight.

Return to Romsey

Although Lord Mountbatten's state funeral took place in Westminster Abbey, he was buried at Romsey Abbey, near the family home of Broadlands.

Lord Mountbatten at Broadlands (BBC South archive 1979)

He had instructed that his tombstone be positioned in the direction of his wife, Lady Edwina, who had been buried at sea off Portsmouth in 1960.

Current vicar of the abbey, Rev Tim Sledge says Lord Mountbatten's tomb still draws visitors from among tourists at the nearby stately home and veterans who knew and served under him.

He explained about Lord Mountbatten's burial in 1979: "It was for a town in mourning. It was a time for the town to pay its own respects in its own abbey church.

Lord Mountbatten's coffin returning to Romsey station
Lord Mountbatten's coffin returning to Romsey station

"He very much had the town at the heart of what he was about. [The abbey] was the focal point for his faith and religion."

Mountbatten School on the eastern edge of Romsey was opened in 1969. It was built on land formerly owned by the Broadlands Estate - Lord Mountbatten' crest was adopted as the School emblem.

Isle of Wight

Lord Mountbatten had strong connections with the Isle of Wight. He was Governor from 1969 and was appointed Lord-Lieutenant of the island by the Queen in 1974 when it was given county status.

Lord Mountbatten steps off the first cross-Solent hovercraft service
Lord Mountbatten steps off the first cross-Solent hovercraft service

Major-General Martin White now occupies the role. He recalls the feeling on the island when news of Lord Mountbatten's death filtered through:

"The same as any wanton act of terror - complete horror, particularly if it is affecting someone with such a distinguished career.

"The Mountbatten family had a long connection and loved the island - he was much loved on the island and you see his legacy all around. He left a huge legacy, not just on the Isle of Wight but around the world."

Lord Mountbatten was a champion of Sir Christopher Cockerell's hovercraft and was on board the first cross-Solent SR.N5 hovercraft service.

The Earl Mountbatten Hospice is one of the institutions on the island which bears his name - it is the only hospice on the Isle of Wight and cares for over 800 patients facing life-threatening conditions every year.

Councillor Roger Mazillius knew Lord Mountbatten from the time when he was installed as freeman of Medina Borough in 1979.

He described him as: "An imposing man, wonderfully unflappable. He was a gentleman, a great personage and an enormous loss to Great Britain when he was killed.

"He will always be remembered as a very friendly, approachable governor. Despite his high rank, he remained in touch with the people," he added.

Indian partition

The South's Asian community has also been reflecting on Lord Mountbatten's legacy. As Britain's last Viceroy of India, he oversaw a hasty partition of the subcontinent into separate countries of India and Pakistan.

Mountbatten and his wife wife Mohammed Ali Jinnah, future leader   of Pakistan
Mountbatten and his wife with Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Muslim League

There was widespread inter-communal violence and massive population movements, however opinion is divided as to whether Lord Mountbatten's actions could have helped an already deteriorating political situation.

Satvir Kaur, 25, from Southampton, heard about the period from her Sikh grandparents who lived in Lahore and were caught up in the communal violence which followed partition.

"A lot of people had respect for Mountbatten on a personal level. Although the British Empire in general conjured up a lot of hatred and people would have wanted them to go as planned, not leave them in the lurch," she said.

More memories and analysis of Lord Mountbatten's life and career on BBC Radio Solent's Mountbatten Day - Thurday 27 August.




SEE ALSO
30 years since Mountbatten's death
27 Aug 09 |  Northern Ireland
Memorial held for attack victims
27 Aug 09 |  Foyle and West
1979: IRA bomb kills Lord Mountbatten
21 May 07 |  On This Day
Sixty bitter years after Partition
08 Aug 07 |  South Asia
Flashback to Indian partition
11 Jan 02 |  South Asia

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