Monday 17 December 2018

Mountbatten Visiting Lagos in 1965

Lord Louis Mountbatten on naval exercises around Malta and Gibraltar in 1956

The visit of Prince Charles to Nigeria brings to mind one of several visits made to Nigeria by his great-uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten in his capacity as the Chief of the Defence Staff.

I recall my father once telling me about meeting Mountbatten in the 1960s and what an impressive figure he seemed to be in both physical stature and intellect. He was taken aback when I replied that a then recent biographer had intimated that the earl had slipped up as a sea commander in a few instances that would have likely resulted in a court martial were it not for his royal connection. He had also been the principal architect of the disastrous allied raid on Dieppe in 1942.

Anyway, this film footage of Mountbatten’s arrival at the naval base at Apapa in Lagos provides scenery with which I became familiar during my childhood: The lagoon, naval jetty and Carter Bridge in the distance. Also, the uphill walk to the main building of the base past vintage cannon emplacements. There is also a brief glimpse of a building block which for a time housed naval officers -we temporarily lived there in an apartment after we returned to Nigeria from my father’s posting as the Deputy Defence Advisor at the Nigerian High Commission in London.

Commodore Wey, the naval Chief of Staff, can be seen saluting him on arrival and escorting him to an observation post.

The final scene where Mountbatten and Wey pose with mainly army officers is most interesting. The army officer right behind Mountbatten appears to fit the stocky, balding profile of a certain Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, who after the first army mutiny of 1966, would be appointed as the military governor of the Eastern Region, the region that would form the breakaway Republic of Biafra.

Mountbatten was assassinated by the Irish Republican Army on August 27th 1979 while vacationing at his summer retreat in Mullaghmore, County Sligo in the Republic of Ireland.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2018)

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

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