Royal Remembrance: Prince Philip’s ‘lifesaving’ war exploits revealed

The Duke of Edinburgh made his last appearance at Remembrance Day in 2017, the year the now 98-year-old Prince retired from his royal duties in support of the Queen. Although Philip will not be at the Cenotaph tomorrow, the retired Duke still makes a point of honouring the Armed Forces, for example, at a rare engagement at Sandringham this summer when he received personnel in his role as Colonel-In-Chief of The Rifles. Prince Philip had a successful career in the Navy before the Queen ascended the throne in 1952, and he saw action in multiple theatres in World War 2.

Indeed, while the Duke of Edinburgh was fighting on the Allied side, two of his brothers-in-law, Prince Christoph of Hesse and Berthold, Margrave of Baden, were serving in the opposing German forces.

However, one of his most daring exploits during the war only came to light decades after when a former shipmate spoke of the Prince’s ingenuity.

During the earlier part of the war, Philip spent time in the Indian Ocean, protecting convoys of the Australian Expeditionary Force.

After the Italian invasion of Greece in 1940, he joined the Mediterranean Fleet, where his service saw him awarded with the Greek Cross of Valour.

He saw action in the battle of Crete, alongside his uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten, and was also mentioned in dispatches for his service controlling his battleship’s searchlights  during the Battle of Cape Matapan.

In 1942, he became one of the youngest ever first lieutenants in the Royal Navy when he was 21 years old.

Philip also played a part in the Allied Invasion of Sicily, and it was here that he was credited with saving his ship HMS Wallace from night bomber attack in 1942 when he devised a plan to successfully distract the German planes.

His heroics only came to light in 2008, when fellow veteran Harry Hargreaves, then 85, spoke to the BBC.

READ MORE: How Camilla has touching personal connection to Remembrance Day 

“He was always very courageous and resourceful and thought very quickly.

“You would say to yourself ‘What the hell are we going to do now?’ and Philip would come up with something.”

Prince Philip’s uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten rose to become First Sea Lord in the Navy, a position many expected Philip to rise to before Winston Churchill quashed the Duke’s Naval ambitions in the early Fifties.

Lord Mountbatten was assassinated by the IRA in 1979, at the age of 79, but like his nephew, he was also on active duty as a younger man.

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