On August 27, 1979, Lord Louis Mountbatten was killed when Irish Republican Army (IRA) terrorists detonated a 50-pound bomb hidden on his fishing vessel Shadow V. Mountbatten, a war hero, last Viceroy of the British Indian Empire, and second cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, was spending the day with his family in Donegal Bay off Ireland’s northwest coast when the bomb exploded. Three others were killed in the attack, including Mountbatten’s 14-year-old grandson, Nicholas. On the same day, an IRA bombing attack on land killed 18 British paratroopers in County Down, Northern Ireland.
The assassination of Mountbatten was the first attack against the British Royal Family by the IRA during its long terrorist campaign to drive the British out of Northern Ireland and unite it with the Republic of Ireland to the south. The attack hardened the hearts of many British against the IRA and convinced Margaret Thatcher’s government to take a hard-line stance against the terrorist organization.
Louis Mountbatten was a great-grandson of Queen Victoria, entered the Royal Navy in 1913. He served during World War I and at the outbreak of World War II was commander of the 5th destroyer flotilla. In 1943 he successfully conducted the campaign against Japan that led to the recapture of Burma. In 1947, he was appointed the last viceroy of India, and he conducted the negotiations that led to independence for India and Pakistan later that year.
He was the uncle of Philip Mountbatten and introduced Philip to Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen Elizabeth. He later became godfather and mentor to their first born, Charles, Prince of Wales.
When Lord Mountbatten died Prince Charles was particularly shocked because he had a really good relationship with him about the relationship Charles wrote in his diary: “combined grand-father, great uncle, father, brother and friend… Life will never be the same now that he has gone”.
His assassination was perhaps the most shocking of all terrorism attacks inflicted by the IRA against the United Kingdom. The IRA immediately took responsibility for the attack, saying it detonated the bomb by remote control from the coast.
IRA member Thomas McMahon was later arrested and convicted of preparing and planting the bomb that destroyed Mountbatten’s boat.