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The Battle of Navarino, 20th October 1827
The general peace which had prevailed after 1815 was disturbed by the Greek War of Independence which began in 1821. Anxious to accelerate the decline of Ottoman power, Britain and France supported Greece's
attempt to free herself from Turkish rule and, in July 1827, formed an alliance with Russia to further this aim. In an attempt to secure a peaceful settlement, a British squadron under Vice-Admiral Codrington was despatched with orders to meet the Turkish fleet lying in Navarino Bay, on the Morean coast of Greece, where it was soon joined by units of the French and Russian fleets. By mid-October Codrington found himself in overall command of an allied fleet of twenty-seven warships, including eleven ships-of-the-line, with a combined Turko-Egyptian
fleet of sixty-five ships, including three battleships and forty armed transports, ranged against him. Realising a lengthy blockade was
impractical, Codrington decided to enforce a truce with a show of strength and, on the morning of 20th October, took his fleet into the bay and began to moor it close to where the Turkish ships lay at anchor in an extended horseshoe formation. The Turkish commander at first
accused Codrington of entering the bay without permission and then, about 2.30p.m. shots were fired at a boat from H.M.S. Dartmouth. As the situation grew tenser, some Egyptian ships opened fire and were almost immediately supported by their shore batteries. Codrington had no option but to retaliate and even before the last of his ships had come to anchor, a furious action ensued between the opposing fleets. The murderous bombardment continued until nightfall and by the following dawn, only fifteen Turkish ships remained afloat, many more having been so badly mauled they were scuttled by their own crews. Muslim casualties exceeded 4,000 and although no allied ships were actually sunk, a number were seriously damaged. Shortly afterwards and as a direct result of the Turkish defeat at Navarino, Greece attained
her independence whilst the battle itself has achieved rather more enduring fame as the very last fleet action of the age of sail.