The Battle of Navarino
“Perhaps... not the noblest of victories”. This haphazard action, in which the forces of Great Britain, France and Russia destroyed a gallant Ottoman fleet, did much to ensure the achievement of Greek independence. By Robin Fedden.
The defeat of the Turks by the combined fleets of Great Britain, France and Russia, at Navarino on October 20th, 1827, was one of the most curious engagements in naval history. The parties were not at war, mischance precipitated the conflict, and the heroes of the day were the utterly defeated Turks and the gallant English commander-in-chief who was recalled for his pains.
Navarino is a fine harbour, and there are few on the inhospitable west coast of the Morea. The spacious semi-circular bay, backed by the olive-clad hills of the Peloponnese with the white summit of Mount Taygetus in the distance, is sheltered from the sea by the narrow and rugged island of Sphacteria. Though there is an inconsiderable northern channel, useful access to the bay exists only at the southern end of the island.
Such an anchorage, on such a coast, has always been used. Navarino has a long history.