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 Childhood - 1916

Like many children of his social class, Mountbatten was educated at home (mostly by his well-educated mother) until the age of 10. Mountbatten said that his mother “taught me to enjoy working hard and to be thorough”.  In May 1910, he was sent to boarding school at Lockers Park, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.  The school was an orthodox preparatory school where he earned several nicknames such as 'Batter-pudding' and 'L.F.B.' using a parody of his initials and the abbreviation for the London Fire Brigade.  At Lockers Park, Mountbatten won a reputation for excellence in the boxing ring, reaching the finals in the school’s tournament.  

 

In February 1911 he was struck down by an inflammation of the lungs and was visited frequently by his mother, who brought him a model destroyer to cheer him up. Even at this young age Mountbatten was keen to follow his elder brother Prince George of Battenberg, later 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven (1892-1938) into the Royal Navy.

 

Princess Louis of Battenberg

with Mountbatten whilst a Naval Cadet

 

Lockers Park Preparatory School, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire

In 1911, Mountbatten’s father was appointed as Second Sea Lord and was responsible for pushing through many improvements in working conditions for enlisted men, but within a year in December 1912, Mountbatten’s father was appointed to the post of First Sea Lord following the early retirement of Admiral Sir Francis Bridgeman (1848-1929) due to ill health. This promotion would not only affect Prince Louis, but would shape the destiny of his youngest son.

Mountbatten entered the Royal Naval College, Osborne on the Isle of Wight in May 1913 as a Naval Cadet, but as a cousin of The King, the son of the First Sea Lord and being of German descent - Mountbatten was subjected to bullying which he seemed to overcome.  However, despite his clear abilities and allegiance to the British Crown especially with all the strategic preparations for an inevitable war against the German Empire, Mountbatten’s father was resented and viewed with suspicion by growing anti-German hysteria which resulted in his resignation as First Sea Lord on 27th October 1914.  Mountbatten subsequently went to the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth and excelled at many sporting activities, but he broke his leg just before his final examinations and was forced to take them whilst in hospital and came 18th out of a class of 80.  However the unjust treatment of his father was to be a catalyst of Mountbatten’s drive and success and his personal campaign to restore the honour of the Battenberg name which in the eyes of many people had been tarnished by his German ancestry.  

 

In November 1914, The Battenbergs (living in more modest circumstances) retired to Kent House, East Cowes (near Osborne House) on the Isle of Wight, the former home of  Princess Louise, The Duchess of Argyll (1848-1939), which Queen Victoria (1819)1837-1901) had purchased in 1864 and Mountbatten would stay there whilst on leave.

Mountbatten became a Midshipman in 1916 and saw active service in World War I in the battlecruiser HMS Lion, the flagship of his personal hero - Admiral of the Fleet The Rt Hon. Sir David Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty (1871-1936).  Life for a young Midshipman at this time was not easy and Mountbatten himself later recalled of basic living conditions, being beaten and having no dedicated quarters and sleeping in a hammock.  Mountbatten proudly wore on his uniform the King George V Coronation Medal ribbon, which singled him out as many of his superiors - who had seen active service at the Battle of Jutland had no medals whatsoever.  Mountbatten subsequently served on board HMS Queen Elizabeth and HM Submarine K6.

 

Mountbatten in 1916 prior to joining

HMS Lion as a Midshipman


The 1911 King George V Coronation Medal