Friday, November 28, 2008

Mountbatten and Jones

There are a great many things I admire about Lord Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, not least the fact that he had a sense of humor. When he was the Captain of the HMS Kelly, one of his sailors, (legend has it that he was a Cockney named Jones) Jones decided that he did not want to participate in the Church of England services held on Royal Navy ships on Sunday morning, (I guess he wanted to sleep in) so he put down on his religious preference form "Jewish", and then, just to make assurance double sure, added "Atheist".

This came to Mountbatten's attention. Lord Louis figured that Jones was trying to pull a fast one, and he wasn't going to let that happen- so he called Jones on the carpet.

"Jones, I understand that you have stated on your religious preference form that you are a Jewish atheist. Is that correct?"

"Thas roight, Ahm a Jewish atheist"

"Jones, don't you realize that the Jewish people were the Light of Civilization whilst the entire population of Europe was painting themselves blue and running about naked in the forests? And now *you* have strayed from the faith of your forefathers! I am APPALLED! And for that reason, I have arranged that for the next twelve Saturdays you shall meet at 0700 with Royal Navy's senior Jewish chaplain for an intensive program of instruction in the Jewish religion. DISMISSED!"

The story continues, (I allow for a touch of the apocryphal here) that for the rest of the time Jones served on the Kelly, whenever Mountbatten saw him, he would say, "Ah, Jones! Shalom!"

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