Famous Personalities of India : Louis Mountbatten
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Mountbatten, Louis (1900-1979), a member of the royal family of the United Kingdom, was a distinguished military leader and the last viceroy (ruler) of the British colony of India. He served as chief of combined British operations during World War II (1939-1945). He later became first sea lord, the United Kingdom's highest naval officer. As viceroy of India, he helped arrange for that country's independence.

Mountbatten was born Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Battenberg in Windsor, England. He was the son of Prince Louis of Battenberg. Mountbatten joined the Royal Navy in 1913. He studied at the Royal Naval College at Greenwich, London.

When World War II began, Mountbatten was commander of the destroyer Kelly. German bombers sank the ship in the Battle of Crete in 1941. Half the Kelly's crew of 240 was killed. The rest, including Mountbatten, clung to the wreckage for four hours under enemy fire before being rescued. In 1942, Mountbatten became chief of combined operations. He led a secret task force that planned raids on German-occupied areas in Europe. Mountbatten was given command of the Allied forces in southeast Asia in 1943 and led the reconquest of Burma and Peninsular Malaysia from Japan.

Mountbatten was named viceroy of India in March 1947. He skilfully supervised the end of British rule in India in spite of deep rivalries among many of India's Hindu and Muslim inhabitants. The arrangement included the division of the country into the Hindu-dominated nation of India and the smaller Muslim-dominated nation of Pakistan. In August 1947, Mountbatten was chosen the first governor general of independent India. He returned to naval service in June 1948. Mountbatten was first sea lord from 1955 to 1959 and chief of the United Kingdom defence staff from 1959 to 1965.

Mountbatten retired in 1965. He was killed when a bomb destroyed his fishing boat off the coast of Ireland. The Irish Republican Army, a terrorist group seeking Northern Ireland's independence from the United Kingdom, claimed responsibility for the bombing.

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