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Southampton lecturer writes frank account of Lord Mountbatten’s early life

Published: 
8 July 2010

University of Southampton historian Dr Adrian Smith has released a new book about Lord Louis Mountbatten, which he describes as an unusually full and frank study of the first half of his life.

“I have made use of previously unexamined personal files from late in Mountbatten’s life. In these he revisits and rewrites key moments in his earlier life, unintentionally revealing fresh detail,” says Adrian.

Lord Mountbatten’s authorised biography was written in the aftermath of his assassination by the IRA in 1979. Since then, a wealth of fresh evidence about the public and the private lives of ‘Dickie’ and Edwina Mountbatten has emerged, all of which was not available 30 years ago.

Mountbatten – Apprentice War Lord explores this evidence, including for example: Lord Louis’ opinions on Anthony Eden, who in the 1930s was a hero for opposing appeasement, but by the time of the Suez crisis 20 years later was judged ‘quite clearly mad’; his hair-raising final moments on the bridge of HMS Kelly, sunk by the Germans off Crete in 1941; and his unqualified belief in his inspirational wartime leadership of Combined Operations, despite the disastrous Dieppe raid of August 1942.

Gandhi’s first meal eaten at the Viceroy’s House, New Delhi, 1 April 1947
Gandhi and Mountbatten, 1 Apr 1947

“Mountbatten was interested in a wide variety of subjects and the book examines his keen interest in science, his involvement in film-making both here and in Hollywood, and his relationship with the rest of the Royal Family,” comments Adrian.

While researching the book, Dr Smith made extensive use of the Broadlands Archives, which are held at the University of Southampton. The University recently launched a campaign to raise £2.85m to purchase the collection of historic documents and has now been awarded £1,993,760 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, putting it on track to secure the Archives for the nation.

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