In 1827 during the Greek War of Independence, the Great Powers of Britain, France and Russia were attempting to force an armistice on the Turks, having established diplomatic relations with the Greek insurgents. To this end they sent a fleet of 27 warships to Navarino Bay below the town of Pýlos, where Ottoman leader Ibrahim Pasha had gathered his forces – 16,000 men in 89 ships. The declared intention was to coerce Ibrahim into leaving Messinía, which he had been raiding ruthlessly.

On the night of October 20, an Egyptian frigate, part of the Turks’ supporting force, fired its cannons, and full-scale battle broke out. Without intending to take up arms for the Greeks, the “allies” responded to the attack and, extraordinarily, sank and destroyed 53 of the Turkish fleet without a single loss. There was considerable international embarrassment when news filtered through to the “victors”, but the action had nevertheless effectively ended Turkish control of Greek waters and within a year Greek independence was secured and recognized.

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