Mountbatten meets a Sky Hawk

On 7 May 1977 the Sky Hawks did a demo jump into Calgary for the PPCLI trooping of the colours. Lady Patricia Brabourne, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, at that time Colonel-in-Chief of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, was presiding. We hopped out of the Bell CH-135 Twin Huey helicopter from Edmonton, but as we were coming in to land, some children ran out to the first set of jumpers on the target area. You can't afford to land on a kid, particularly when you are wearing smoke grenades etc., so I turned and landed behind the bleachers.

(Author Photo)

A jump from a No. 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron Bell CH-135 Twin Huey helicopter, over DZ Buxton, Edmonton, Alberta.  The author stepped off the rails and looked up to take this photo shot of Wayne Johnson in the doorway, Ralph Goebel in a picture perfect step off (not easy to do), and Jean Simard to the right, 1978.

As I dropped my kit to get ready for the salute, her father, Admiral of the Fleet Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, British Royal Navy officer and statesman, an uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and second cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II, stepped over to say hello to me. Seizing the day, I reached up to shake his hand and said, "hello sir, I always wanted to meet a man who went down with his ship!" He laughed and said "yes, and do you know the bastards machine-gunned us in the water!" (He had been on the destroyer HMS Kelly when Stuka dive bombers sank it - as the ship rolled over, he was washed out of the bridge and came up the other side as the ship sank, and the dive bombers did machine gun them in the water.)

In August 1979, Mountbatten was assassinated by a bomb planted aboard his fishing boat in Mullaghmore, County Sligo, Ireland, by members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army. Following the outbreak of the Second World War, Mountbatten commanded the destroyer HMS Kelly and the 5th Destroyer Flotilla and saw considerable action in Norway, the English Channel and the Mediterranean. In August 1941, he received command of the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious. He was appointed chief of Combined Operations and a member of the Chiefs of Staff Committee in early 1942, and organized the raids on St Nazaire and Dieppe. In August 1943, Mountbatten became Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia Command and oversaw the recapture of Burma and Singapore from the Japanese by the end of 1945. For his service during the war, Mountbatten was created viscount in 1946 and earl the following year.

Lady Patricia was born in London, England on 14 February 1924, the daughter of Lord Louis Mountbatten and Edwina Ashley and the elder sister of Lady Pamela Hicks. She is a third cousin to Queen Elizabeth II, first cousin to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and Godmother to Prince Charles, Prince of Wales. On 26 October 1946, she married John Knatchbull, 7th Baron Brabourne, who at the time was an officer in the Coldstream Guards. They had 8 children. Lady Patricia became the second Colonel-in-Chief of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry on 15 June 1974. She succeeded her cousin, the Lady Patricia Ramsay, formerly HRH Princess Patricia of Connaught, for whom the Regiment was named in 1914. Like her predecessor, she immediately developed a strong affection for the Regiment and a genuine interest in the welfare of all Patricia soldiers and their families. In return, the members of her Regiment greatly admired her elegance and embraced her down-to-earth approach and great sense of humour. She is revered and will continue to be so within the Regiment.

Lady Patricia was educated in Malta, New York and England. In 1943, at age 19, she joined the Women’s Royal Naval Service as a Signal Rating and served in Combined Operations in the UK and then Supreme Allied Headquarters, South East Asia. It was during this time, she met Lord Brabourne, an aide to Lord Mountbatten. In 1973 she was appointed Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Kent and also served as a magistrate. She is active in numerous organizations, among them: a Patron to the SOS Children’s Villages UK, a Dame of the Order of St. John, Patron to the Countess Mountbatten’s Own Legion of Frontiersmen of the Commonwealth, and an active supporter of the Lions International Blood Research Appeal (LIBRA). She has maintained a deep interest in the King’s College Hospital and in health matters, and is a strong supporter of the Child Bereavement Charity.

On 27 August 1979 Lady Mountbatten’s father, Lord Louis, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, was assassinated by a bomb planted on his yacht by the Irish Republican Army. Also killed were Lady Mountbatten’s son Nicholas, her mother-in-law and a 15 year old farm boy, by the name of Paul Maxwell. After the death of her father, Lady Mountbatten succeeded to his titles and is now the Countess Mountbatten of Burma, CBE, MSC, CD, JP, DL. However, to the Officers and Men of her Regiment, she prefers to be addressed as Lady Patricia.

Lady Patricia relinquished her appointment as Colonel-in-Chief of the PPCLI at a formal ceremony in Edmonton, Alberta on Saturday 17 March 2007. She was succeeded by The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson. Lady Patricia’s 33 years of service to the Regiment and Canada was formally recognized by Her Excellency Governor General Michaëlle Jean on 28 August 2007 when she was awarded the Meritorious Service Cross.

Lady Patricia continued her relationship with the Regiment as the Honorary Patron of the PPCLI Association, until she passed away at the age of 93 on 13 June 2017. Her funeral was held in London 27 June 2017. In the tradition established by Lady Patricia Ramsey, her bearer party was composed of soldiers from the regiment.