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On this day 40 years ago: Lord Mountbatten killed by IRA bomb

Credit: Allan Warren

On 27th August 1979 Her Majesty The Queen’s cousin, Lord Mountbatten, was tragically killed by an IRA bomb blast whilst on his boat in Ireland.

It wasn’t just Mountbatten who perished in the boat; one of his twin grandson’s, Nicholas, and a local boat boy, Paul Maxwell, also died as a result of the bomb explosion.

Another passenger on the boat, the Dowager Lady Brabourne, died the day after the attack from injuries sustained in the blast.

Lord Mountbatten and his family were on their traditional summer holiday at their castle in County Sligo, north-west Ireland. On this particular day, they were on board Mountbatten’s boat, Shadow V, which had set off from fishing village Mullaghmore. The bomb detonated at around 11:30am and, according to witnesses; the boat was ‘blown to smithereens’ and all seven occupants were hurled into the water.

Nearby fishermen raced to pull Mountbatten from the water, but he died shortly after being rescued. Other occupants of the boat were pulled to safety and rushed to hospital. The incident raised issues regarding the security of the Mountbatten party as the Lord himself didn’t have a bodyguard on the day in question, and the village in which the group were fishing is only twelve miles from the Northern Irish border; it was well-known to be used as a refuge by members of the IRA.

Shortly after the explosion the IRA confirmed that they were responsible for the attack, and only hours later 18 soldiers were massacred in two booby-trap explosions near Warrenpoint, close to the border with the Irish Republic.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh were naturally devastated by Mountbatten’s shocking death, as Louis was Philip’s uncle, as well as Elizabeth’s cousin. The trio were close, and it was testimony to how highly they thought of him when Queen Elizabeth granted him a full state funeral at Westminster Abbey. The funeral was attended by The Queen, Prince Philip and The Royal Family, as well as members of the European Royal houses, with whom the British Royal Family have familial links. The funeral procession was watched by thousands of people and included representatives from all three of the British Armed Services, as well as military contingents from Burma, India and the United States.

Lord Mountbatten was born on 25th June 1900. During the Second World War he was Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia Command, as well as being the last Viceroy of India, and first Governor-General of the independent Dominion of India. He was also a great-grandson of Queen Victoria.