Catherine II (the Great) of Russia sent a Russian squadron into the Mediterranean to support the Greeks in their struggle against Turkish rule, the Russians having no Black Sea fleet at this time. In 1770 the squadron was commanded by Count Orlov who concentrated his force of nine vessels in Navarino Bay whilst the Turskish fleet, numbering 20 ships of the Line plus frigates, lay in the roads of Chios. After a short but dramatic action, the Turkish fleet were badly mauled and, that night cut their lines and fled to the Bay of Chesme (Tchesme). Orlov pursued them and decided on a night fire-ship raid. The raiding party was escorted by Commodore Grieg (a Scot in Russian service) and was a dazzling success, the ships making their mark whilst the Turkish lost over 9,000 men. In addition, the Russians captured one ship of the line and ten other vessels, the rest being burned at their anchors.
Thomas Howard, 3rd Earl Effingham was from a family with a long Naval tradition which extended back as far as Sir John Howard, known as Jack of Norfolk, 1st Duke of Norfolk (1430-1485). Edward IV made him, amongst other distinctions, Lord Admiral of England, Ireland and Aquitaine. He was slain on Bosworth field and honours were attained. Thomas Howard served as an officer on board Admiral Elphinston's ship and was able to keep this private account in addition to the ships official log. As an observer of some education, he was afforded the rare opportunity of actually being able to record this series of interesting actions first hand. This fact is made more poignant by the fact that his handwriting, which begins neatly, becomes an excited scrawl with crossings and corrections when he is noting the actions. He went on to become a minor 18th Century statesman.