Most of us visited on numerous occasions London and its numerous cultural and historical sites. In most of the cases, little attention is paid to the emblematic RAF Memorial in Green Park, located near Hyde Park Corner.

The Royal Air Force (RAF) Memorial commemorates the crews of RAF who participated in particularly dangerous missions during the Second World War. Among them 55,573 pilots and aircrew from Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, etc. lost their lives during the war. The memorial was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 June 2012.

Apart from paying tribute to all those men who sacrificed their lives to protect Europe from tyranny, this memorial also highlights the values on which Britain, and also Europe and the western civilisation, are founded. These are the values of the Athenian Democracy.

The plinth of the memorial bears a famous text of Pericles, of Athens:

“Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it.”

 

 

 

SHP presents from its collection, a particularly important letter from the Greek General Theodoros Kolokotronis to his son Ioannis (Gennaios) Kolokotronis, which was sent in July 1826, when Ibrahim Pascha had occupied almost the entire Peloponnese, and the Greeks had lost their morale.

Theodoros Kolokotronis. Sketch by the German officer Philhellene Karl Krazeisen, (1794-1878).

Ioannis (Gennaios) Kolokotroni. Son of Theodoros Kolokotronis.

We retain two points from this letter.

The first is that Kolokotronis asks his son to write to all the villages, and for men to get out of “their holes”, and to come and help, because “what will save them is their breasts”. That is, their struggle and their efforts.

The second point has to do with a report made by Kolokotronis on the Philhellenic Committees of Europe. He notes in his letter that he received in Astros (Peloponnese) a consignment of animal feed from the island of Kythira (under English rule). He then informs his son that the President of the Philhellenic Committees in Europe, told him “to ask what he wants and he will have it”. Weapons, ammunition, food. “Provided we ensure some action and not sleep”.

This request has many readings. In addition to the obvious, there is a much more important one.

Three months after the fall of Messolonghi, and while the flame of the Revolution had begun to fade, the Philhellenic Committees were active and present, ready to offer full assistance of all kinds to the Greeks. In fact, the Philhellenic Committees had set up mechanisms for sending supplies and equipment, ensuring their safe delivery to the Greeks.

However, the Greeks had to move and not to fall asleep for another reason.

It should be reminded here that it was a matter of absolute priority for the Greeks to prove that the Revolution had not been extinguished, because otherwise the request for the establishment of an independent Greek state could not remain on the agenda of the diplomatic fora and negotiations.

The action, the pressure that the Philhellenes were exercising on the governments throughout Europe, would have no reason to exist, if the Greeks had capitulated or compromised with the Turks, and the conflicts had stopped.

This letter constitutes a piece of evidence of historical value, on the commitment and the importance of the Philhellenic movement in Europe, something for which Greece will express eternally its gratitude.

 

 

John Kerry (John Forbes Kerry), was born in December 11, 1943, in Denver, Colorado, USA. He was the son of Richard Kerry, a World War II pilot and diplomat, and Rosemary Forbes Kerry, a member of Boston’s wealthy Forbes family.

John Kerry was educated in New England and Switzerland. After graduating from Yale University in 1966, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served in the Vietnam War as an officer of a gunboat. By the time he returned from Vietnam in 1969, he had achieved the rank of lieutenant and had been honoured with a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts.

After his military service in 1970, he engaged in Anti-War activism, and was a cofounder of the Vietnam Veterans of America and a spokesperson for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). In 1971 he gained attention when he testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In 1976 he graduated from Boston College Law School and became assistant district attorney in Middlesex county, Massachusetts, and then private lawyer. His political career was marked by Greek Americans. In 1982 he was elected lieutenant governor of Massachusetts when Michael Dukakis was the governor. In 1984 he succeeded Paul Tsongas, and won election to the U.S. Senate. He was a member of the US Senate between 1985 and 2013, and then, the Democratic Party’s nominee for president of the USA in 2004. He was also Secretary of State (2013–17) in the administration of President Barack Obama.

Throughout his political career, either as a member of the Senate or as a Presidential candidate, and most importantly as a State Secretary, he supported actively Greece both in its regional conflictual situations and during the vicissitudes of the crisis. He also supported the cause of the recognition of the Armenian genocide.

This distinguished American politician, is a direct descendant of John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony. One of the sons of John Winthrop, was Thomas Lindall Winthrop, who is through his own son Robert, the great-great-great-grandfather of John Kerry.

Thomas Lindall Winthrop (1760 – 1841) was a Massachusetts politician who served as the 13th Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts from 1826 to 1833. He also served as a state representative and senator. In 1813, he was elected both a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the American Antiquarian Society.

Most importantly, Thomas Lindall Winthrop was the chairman of the emblematic Philhellenic Committee of Boston. Under this capacity and role, Thomas Lindall Winthrop, with the cooperation of Edward Everett and other officials, played a key role to support Greece during the Greek War of Independence. Among others, the Philhellenic Committee sent volunteers to Greece, it organized fundraisers and directed on numerous occasions funds, and many forms of aid to the Greeks, during and after the war.

Thomas Lindall Winthrop, chairman of the Philhellenic Committee of Boston

SHP will present detailed information on Thomas Lindall Winthrop, Edward Everett, Daniel Webster and all the other personalities in the USA, who supported the Greek War of Independence.

The amazing element, is that the descendant of such a remarkable political figure, as Thomas Lindall Winthrop, followed a noble professional and political career, in line with the values and principles of his ancestors.

SHP and Greece pay tribute to Thomas Lindall Winthrop and to his descendant John Kerry, who were consistent with the broader values of Hellenism and valuable friends of Greece.

SHP works actively to identify the descendants of other American Philhellenes who supported the cause of Greece and the Greek revolution.

 

 

SHP (www.eefshp.org) announced recently its cooperation with the Prefecture of Attica for the establishment of a Museum on Philhellenism.

The announcement was received with enthusiasm by the thousands of friends of SHP, who are aware of our work and follow our actions.

However, we consider it necessary to explain our initiative and answer some of the questions that may arise.

  • What will be the role of the Prefecture of Attica?
  • Why do we need a museum with this subject?
  • Isn’t the issue covered by some of the other important museums in the country?
  • When will the new museum be ready? Will it be launched before 2021?
  • How will it operate?
  • Who will fund it?
  • Who will ensure its maintenance?

The Museum on Philhellenism is founded by the Society for Hellenism and Philhellenism (SHP) and it constitutes a key element of its mission. SHP designed and organized this project, and it will staff it with important scientists and executives, at its own responsibility and at its own expense.

The projects of SHP are financed by Greek businessmen (who do not have any business relationship with the Greek state), who have already paid important amounts for the formation of the collection, while they have also allocated funds for its expansion of in the future.

In addition to its work and the establishment of the Museum, SHP plays (and it will continue to do so) an important role in the society in many areas. For example, SHP donated recently, in cooperation with its sponsor, Euro 100,000 to the Ministry of National Defense to strengthen military hospitals in the fight against COVID-19.

The role of the Prefecture of Attica, in this phase, is to support certain actions that have to do with the establishment of the Museum and a series of initiatives concerning events in Greece and internationally, during 2021. The support of the Prefecture will follow the applicable procedures.

The Museum will be ready to operate before the end of 2020, in a privately owned building of SHP in Athens, in a place that ensures easy and comfortable access to the public. After 2021, the Museum will move to a new privately owned building in the center of Athens.

The goal of the Museum of Philhellenism is to present art objects, books, documents, medals, letters, personal objects, images – lithographs, etc. that will explain the birth and evolution of Philhellenism, but also the critical role that it played for the liberation of Greece.

The Museum aspires to answer through experiential navigations, to the Greek and foreign visitors, a series of important questions. Here are some of them:

  • How was Philhellenism born from the Renaissance to the beginning of the 19th century?
  • How did it affect education in Europe turning it to Hellenic-centric?
  • How was archeology born?
  • When and how did European citizens realize the importance and uniqueness of Greek culture?
  • Who were Barthelemy and Winkelman?
  • Who inspired Rigas Feraios to design his Charta and to write the Thurios?
  • How was neoclassicism born?
  • Who were the members of the Chenier family in France and what was their role?
  • What was the Greek Language Hotel and what was its contribution to the struggle of the Greeks?
  • How was romanticism born?
  • Who was Shelley?
  • What prompted Lord Byron to love Greece and write his Hellenic-centric emblematic works that became best sellers internationally?
  • How did Lord Byron help the Greek liberation struggle?
  • What were the Philhellenic Committees and what did they offer to the Greek Revolution?
  • Who were their members?
  • What was the Philhellenic music?
  • Who were the Philhellenes who fought in Greece and what did they offer?
  • How many Philhellenes died heroically for Greece or suffered terrible tortures?
  • How many Philhellenes undertook secret missions in favor of Greece?
  • Where are their descendants today and what do they think about Greece?
  • What did the international press write about Greece in the 1820s?
  • How did Philhellenic art evolve and what was its role in the struggle of the Greeks?
  • Which enlightened intellectuals of the time passionately supported Greece?
  • To whom does Normanou Street and Hastings Street in Plaka refer and to whom does Veranzerou Street refer?
  • Who were Eynard and Dr Howe and what did they offer to Greece?
  • What did Garibaldi and Fratti offer in Greece?
  • Why is the term Philhellene a title of honor and identified with noble intentions, while in the case of all other ethnicities, the component “friend” (philos) is placed second, and attributes something with a negative connotation (e.g. Turkophile)?
  • Why only a movement on Philhellenism emerged, and nothing similar for other ethnic groups who also revolted or suffered persecution and genocide during the Ottoman period and later (e.g. Albanians, Serbs, Armenians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Kurds, etc.)?
  • etc. etc. etc.

The answers to these questions form an integral part of modern Greek history and it is a matter of principle for Greece to know this history, to promote it and to pay tribute to those who deserve it.

At the same time, however, the Museum of Philhellenism aspires to emphasize another important dimension.

Professor Jacques Bouchard, Director of the Modern Greek Studies Program at the University of Montreal in Canada, explains: “For me Greece represents Hellenism’s anchorage through the ages and the holy Land of the West“.

So why do foreign tourists, but also students from all over the world, crowd in the archeological sites of Greece? Does this act constitute, indirectly or directly, consciously or unconsciously, the “pilgrimage of the citizen of the Western world, to what constitutes the Holy Place of Western civilization”? Isn’t it what the first trip of Lord Byron (and so many other famous and anonymous) to Greece represent? Isn’t it what the work of Byron Childe Harold’s pilgrimage is about?

Greece is the center of a large cultural ecosystem.

The goal of SHP and the Museum on Philhellenism is to allow the whole planet, and especially the societies that are inspired by Western culture and rely on it, to realise that they have a place and an equal role on the side of the Greeks, who continue to be the guardians of the universal humanistic values ​​of freedom and democracy.

Our aim is to build relations of friendship and cooperation with our allies around the world, to whom we will always remind that we honor what their ancestors offered to us, and that they continue to have the same motivation to support Greece, the cradle and the Holy Land of their own culture.

Our aim is to launch a new Philhellenic movement of the 21st century.

SHP and the Museum on Philhellenism aim to fulfil this mission.

 

 

Auguste Michel Marie Étienne Régnault (or Régnaud) de St-Jean d’Angely, was born in Paris on July 30, 1794. His birth certificate states that he was the “son of Marie-Louise-Augustine Chenié, artist, and Michel-Louis-Etienne Desrichards, an officer of the Northern Army”. In fact, his father was Michel-Louis-Etienne Regnaud (1760-1819). Desrichards was the name of an area / property that belonged to the family on his father’s mother. His mother died shortly after his birth, and Auguste Régnault was adopted by his father’s new wife, Laure Regnaud de Saint-Jean d’Angély, in 1795.

His father was a lawyer as well as a Member of the Parliament for the area of Saint-Jean d’Angély. He held many important positions and had a significant influence on Napoleon, who greatly valued and respected his opinion. He was, among other things, a State Counselor, a member of the Paris Academy, General Prosecutor of the Supreme Court, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the Imperial Family (1807), while he also received the title of nobility of the Earl (Count).

Auguste Regnaud, was admitted to the prestigious Prytaneum of St Cyr (Military School), and then began his studies at the Saint-Germain Cavalry School, from which he graduated in 1812 with the rank of lieutenant. The following year he served in the 8th Hussar Regiment, and took part in the campaign in Russia and then in Saxony, where he fought in the Battle of Leipzig. On October 10, 1813, he was promoted to the aid of Lieutenant General Jean-Baptiste Corbineau, who was in turn the aid of Napoleon. Auguste Regnaud took part in the Campaign in France in 1814 and distinguished in the battle of Reims. He then served with the 1st Regiment of Hussar from the summer of 1814 until the spring of 1815. He then returned to the service of Napoleon, was promoted to captain, and was appointed officer of Napoleon’s headquarters. He fought at Waterloo and, on June 21, 1815, he was promoted to a Major by Napoleon himself on the battlefield, who recognized his bravery. This grade was deducted from him during the Restoration. Finally, he returned to his homeland after Napoleon’s second resignation, with the rank of lieutenant. He then traveled to the United States to accompany his father, who had been exiled for defending Napoleon. Once in the USA, he was arrested on August 28, 1815, for entering a foreign country without permission. Auguste Regnaud returned to France in 1816. He remained there for several years, expelled from the army, and followed a non-military life.

From the early 1820s, he was enthusiastic about the Greek Revolution, and supported the philhellenic initiatives in France, along with many other personalities of the time. In 1825 he decided to go to Greece and fight as a Philhellene volunteer on the side of the Greek revolutionaries. In Greece, he joined Colonel Fabvier’s Regular Corps, who had just taken over as commander. Auguste Regnaud undertook the formation from scratch, and the organization of a cavalry corps. In fact, he managed to train it according to the most advanced European standards. It is worth noting that he had brought with him all the necessary means for the organization of the Cavalry in Greece, which were an offer of the philhellenic committees of France. He also used these funds to purchase horses from the market. He himself refused to receive a salary from the Greek government, and even used personal money to support the work of his unit and his soldiers.

Around the end of October 1825, following an order from the Provisional Government, Fabvier went to Spetses on a mission with the Regular Corps. During this time, Captain Regnaud took over as Deputy Commander of the Army.

The cavalry corps, inspired by his example, soon excelled and received recognition under his command, especially during the campaign in Karystos. According to Henri Fornèsy, Auguste Regnaud enjoyed the undivided respect and esteem of his soldiers. During the campaign in Karystos, a small number of his men from the vanguard were killed and Auguste Regnaud just escaped death after being chased by three Turks. Then the remainder of the cavalry unit, being enraged at the loss of their comrades, pursued the enemy without waiting for an order from their leader. Auguste Regnaud, seeing that his corps was in danger, rushed across the lines of the Turkish cavalry and entered the battle to encourage his soldiers. However, the Greek Cavalry corps was small in number, it did not exceed one hundred men. Auguste Regnaud ordered a retreat which was executed by the Corps with “maximum bravery and prudence”, according to the historian Vyzantios. In this battle the Cavalry Corps lost about 20 men, as well as its famous flag, which had been embroidered by young Philhellene women in Paris and handed over to him, before his departure from France. Auguste Regnaud deeply regretted for the evolution of the campaign in Karystos, and a little later, he submitted his resignation, and left for his homeland. One of his officers, the great Portuguese Philhellene, Colonel Almeida, took his place.

Cavalry uniform of the first regular corps in Greece (GES archive).

However, his interest in the struggle of the Greeks did not stop. So Auguste Regnaud returned to Greece in 1828, as a volunteer in General Maison’s Army Corps, where he served as secretary-interpreter. The following year, Maison was promoted to General of France (Marshal). During this time, thanks to his persistent efforts, Auguste Regnaud rejoined the French army. After the revolution of 1830 in France, he was promoted to captain. On September 11, 1830, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and then participated in the Belgian campaign from 1831 to 1833. On October 23, 1832, he was promoted to colonel and placed in the 1st Regiment of the Lancers, where he remained until 1841. Then, in December 18, 1841, he was promoted to Brigadier General and, in 1842, he commanded the 1st Corps of the Operations in Marne, and then the Meurthe Division. He held this position until 1844, when he became head of the cavalry brigade in the Moselle Corps of Operations. Between 1845 and 1848, he commanded the Versailles Cavalry Brigade and distinguished himself during the 1848 revolution for the stable and disciplined role of his Corps. He was later appointed commander of the Indre-et-Loire region, and of the 1st Light Cavalry Brigade of the Alpine Army. On July 10, 1848, he was promoted to Lieutenant General and took over the temporary command of the entire cavalry division in the Alpine Army. On November 26, 1848, he was elected Member of Parliament for the Charente-Inférieure region. On April 15, 1849, he was put in charge of the ground forces in the expeditionary force sent to the Mediterranean to restore papal power in Rome. On May 13, he was elected a representative of the Assembly for the same area. Between 1849 and 1855, he carried out a number of inspections. In 1850 he joined the Municipal Council of the Charente-Inférieure, where he remained for twenty years, as chairman of several councils.

Auguste Régnault (or Régnaud) de St-Jean d’Angely in military uniform.

General Auguste Régnault (or Régnaud) de St-Jean d’Angely.

In early 1851 (January 9-24), he served as Minister of War for a few weeks. On December 26, 1851, he served on the cavalry’s advisory committee, where he remained until 1853, when he became president for a year. On January 26, 1852, he was elected Member of Parliament. From 1862 to 1870 he was one of its vice presidents. In 1854, he commanded for a while the Imperial Guard, which took part in the Crimean War, and in 1855, he commanded the Reserve Corps in the East. Upon his return to France in 1856, he was appointed commander of the Imperial Guard in Paris, a position that he held until 1869, when he resigned for health reasons. In 1859 he played an important role in the war in Italy and was distinguished for his bravery as head of the Imperial Guard in the victory at Magnenta. The French monarch honored him for his achievements by issuing a decree on June 5, 1859, nominating him Marshal. On November 20, 1864, he inherited the title of Earl (Count) from his father by imperial decree. A title he later bequeathed to his adopted daughter’s husband, along with his last name.

Auguste Regnaud was awarded the Order of the Officer of the Legion of Honor (of which he had been a knight since 1813) in May 1831, the Order of the Senior Officer on January 12, 1849, and the Grand Cross on December 28, 1849. He also received the medal of St. Andrew’s Order, the medal of St. Helen, the Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in Great Britain, the Pontifical Order of Pope Pius IX. Greece honored him with the medal of the Order of the Redeemer on September 27, 1835. He died in Cannes on February 1, 1870, and was buried at public expense. His body is in the Invalides mausoleum.

Auguste Regnaud was another important personality who passed through Greece and contributed to the struggle for its independence.

 

SOURCES – BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Barth Wilhelm – Max Kehrig-Korn, Die Philhellenenzeit, von der Mitte des 18 Jahrhunderts bis zur Ermordung Kapodistrias am 9 Oktober 1831, εκδ. Hueber, Μόναχο 1960.
  • Comité Philhellénique de Paris, Documents relatifs à l’état présent de la Grèce, Paris, Firmin Didot, juin 1826.
  • Debidour Antonin, Le général Fabvier, sa vie militaire et politique, εκδ. Plon-Nourrit et Cie, Παρίσι
  • Frond Victor, Le panthéon des illustrations françaises au XIXe siècle, Paris, Pilon, 1866
  • https://www.napoleon.org Πρόσβαση 3/5/20.
  • Paulin Victor, Guerre d’Italie en 1859, tableau historique, politique et militaire, Paris, Librairie de l’Illustration, 1859.
  • St-Clair William, That Greece might still be free – The Philhellenes in the War of Independence, τ. 1, εκδ. Oxford University Press, Λονδίνο-Νέα Υόρκη
  • Vapereau Gustave, Dictionnaire universel des contemporains, vol. 2. Paris, Hachette et Cie, 1870.
  • Βυζάντιος Χρήστος, Ιστορία των κατά την Ελλην. Επανάστασιν εκστρατειών και μαχών και των μετά ταύτα συμβάντων, ων συμμετέσχεν ο Τακτικός Στρατός, από του 1821 μέχρι του 1833, χ.ε., Αθήνα 1901.
  • Εθνική Βιβλιοθήκη, Τμήμα Χειρογράφων και Ομοιοτύπων, χειρόγραφο 1.697: Henri Fornèsy, «Le monument des philhellènes», 1860.
  • Ηλεκτρονική βάση απονεμηθέντων παρασήμων της Λεγεώνας της Τιμής http://wwwcoulture.gouv.fr/documentation/leonore/leonore.htm, Dossier LΗ22840/50.
  • Ιστορία της οργανώσεως του Ελληνικού Στρατού, 1821-1954, εκδ. ΓΕΣ, Αθήνα 1955.

 

 

Every time we cross Filellinon Street in the center of Athens, we recall these thousands of Philhellenes who were mobilized in Europe and the USA, but also in Greece, while many of them even sacrificed their lives during the Greek War of Independence.

What was this force that pushed them to such sacrifices?

Greek civilization.

And why does Greek civilization stand out?

Why does it have such an impact on people?

Andreas Empirikos

The answer is offered by Andreas Empirikos in his emblematic poem ‘In the Philhellenes Street’

Andreas Embirikos, praises “…the glory of the Hellenes who first among all in this lowly world, transformed their fear of death into lust for life.”

 

 

On May 19, 1919, Mustafa Kemal, landed in Samsous and carried out the second and most cruel phase of the Pontian genocide, which ended in 1923. More than 350,000 people were killed by those who founded the modern Turkish state, after they exterminated every Christian element in Ionia and Pontos. Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Chaldeans and many other peoples, disappeared from the land in which they lived for thousands of years.

The Turkish state ignores the millions of casualties that it caused, and continues to take an arrogant and offensive stance, refusing to apologize and offer reparations. Instead, it is ready to carry out similar atrocities throughout the region, from Libya to Syria.

The photos shows scenes from the atrocities and deportations suffered by the Greek population of Pontos.

 

 

 

Karl Friedrich Lebrecht von Normann-Ehrenfels is inextricably linked to the organization, action and fate of the Battalion of the Philhellenes.

A descendant of an aristocratic family, Karl Norman was born on September 14, 1784, in Stuttgart, the capital of the state of Wurttemberg. His father, Count Philipp von Normann, was a distinguished lawyer and served as Prime Minister of Wurttemberg from 1806 to 1812. Karl followed a different course: at the age of fifteen he decided to devote himself to military action and enlisted in the Austrian army, where he soon distinguished himself and became an officer.

It was the time when Napoleon imposed his own order of things on Europe and German Prussia emerged to a great power. In 1803 Norman enlisted in the army of his homeland, and when Wurttemberg allied with Napoleon in 1805, he began to take part in French campaigns. In 1806 he fought alongside Napoleon against Prussia, in a war that ended in victory for the French coalition, in 1809 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel, and in 1810 he became commander of a Light Cavalry Regiment. He followed Napoleon to Russia in 1812 as head of this corps. There he was seriously injured, but survived and managed to return with what was left of his Regiment.

Even before the last survivors returned from Russia, the state of Wurttemberg was assembling new forces to support again Napoleon, who needed an army because Prussia had declared war on him. This new campaign marked the end of Karl Norman’s military career, and to some extent determined the rest of his life. During the first phase of the battle of Leipzig, during a cease of fire, Norman’s brigade came face to face with Prussian soldiers. At some point, due to a mistake (for which history is still looking for the person who caused it), a battle broke out between them. The result was that the Prussians were wounded and taken prisoner, and Norman was accused of violating the cease fire. Shortly afterwards, during the main phase of the battle (October 1813), following the example of other German states, Norman changed camp, he left Napoleon, and sided with Prussia. But he was now again still exposed to the Prussians, because although they were his compatriots, he had attacked them while they were fighting for their freedom, and at the same time, he was also exposed to the King of Wurttemberg, because he had abandoned his ally Napoleon, without his permission. When he realized that he was in danger of being arrested for treason, he fled to Vienna.

He was barred from military life, and allowed to return home only in 1817. In the meantime he had married Swiss Frida von Orelli, with whom he had two children, and lived alone on the Ehrenfels estate in Metzingen. There he was approached in 1821 by his old comrades from the army and young Philhellenes, who asked him to help the Greek cause. He was persuaded that his name would give a new impetus to the interest of the public opinion on Greece, that it would attract more volunteers and that it would help raise more money for the Greek cause. Indeed, if it were known that a reputable army officer, of aristocratic background, well educated, a veteran of numerous military campaigns, would lead a new mission with noble intentions, this would excite the public. Karl Norman agreed. He believed in the Greek cause, and had a high sense of duty and devotion to the purpose served by the Philhellenic movement of his time. He wanted to help Greece, but also to restore his name. So he left his family and travelled to Marseilles, after being appointed by the philhellenic committees as the leader of the volunteer Philhellenes.

German General Karl Friedrich Lebrecht von Normann-Ehrenfels

Karl Norman boarded with about 50 Philhellenes (this was already the 4th mission since 1821), on the ship Madonna del Rosario with which they sailed to Greece and arrived in Navarino in February 1822. They had with them weapons and ammunition, which had been bought by the philhellenic committees of Germany and Switzerland: two boxes with 50 French-made rifles, bullets, gunpowder, lead. In anticipation of an official invitation from the Greek government, General Norman began training his men in the use of the weapons and hired craftsmen to repair the walls of the city.

In those days, a Turkish fleet appeared on the west coast of the Peloponnese and landed an army with an aim to seize Neokastro. Its few defenders already suffered from a lack of food and ammunition. When Turkish reinforcements arrived from Methoni, the situation seemed so critical, that even the last men began to desert. The fortress was saved thanks to the intervention of Norman, who used the few canons available and with targeted shots forced the Turkish ships to leave. Thus he prevented the attack and successfully inaugurated his military action on Greek soil.

In the following days, Norman visited the Peloponnesian Senate in Tripoli, where he was received on many occasions with great honors. In a letter he wrote during his stay in the city, he expressed his thoughts on the situation in Greece: “The way the Turks have treated the Greeks in the past is so outrageous, that even the strictest man cannot but forgive the atrocities that the Greeks committed in the first days of the struggle. There is no family which does not want to revenge for some barbarity of the past. […]. Something important will happen this summer, I believe that the Greeks fight very well in their mountains and that they are not in danger of losing what they have won. With a little discipline they would form the best light infantry in the world. It is unfortunate that they do not have weapons.”.

He also wrote to his wife from Tripoli: “I do not know when I will return. The war will last a long time. I hope to stay in Moria and if I am as lucky as I was in Navarino, I will be able to offer you a pleasant stay in this beautiful place”.

Meanwhile, Mavrokordatos, the President of the Greek government (Executive) since January 1822, was planning a campaign to Epirus, with the aim of seizing Arta and relieving the Souliotes. Mavrokordatos envisioned a modern Greek state with a Western European orientation, and he wanted to prove the usefulness of the Philhellenes and the effectiveness of the Regular Army. The presence of General Norman was an opportunity to organize an important military campaign in Epirus.

Thus, three regular Army Corps were formed in Corinth:

1) a corps composed by volunteer fighters from the Ionian islands, commanded by S. Panas,

2) a mixed Regiment composed by regular Greeks and Philhellenes, commanded by the Italian Philhellene Tarella, and

3) the Battalion of the Philhellenes, commanded by another Italian Philhellene, Dania. This battalion consisted of two companies. One company was composed by French and Italians, and the other by Germans and Poles. This division in the Battalion of the Philhellenes reflected the timeless competition between the Germans and the French, which unfortunately sometimes manifested itself with certain side effects for the battalion, occasionally with particular intensity.

Thus, the regular forces consisted of 200 volunteers from the Ionian Islands and 320 Philhellenes. The irregular forces consisted of approximately 1,500 warriors, commanded by various chieftains from Morea, western Greece, Souli and Western Macedonia.

J.D. Elster, narrates in his book Das Bataillon der Philhellenen, 1828, the history of the campaign of the Philhellenes in Greece and the battle of Peta (SHP Collection).

It should be noted here that the enrolment of Germans and French in a joint military unit, with the aim to fight against a common enemy and to defend jointly the same ideals, could only be perceived as a utopia at that time. However, the philhellenic ideals, and the cultural heritage of Greece, functioned miraculously as a connecting link. It took the peoples of Europe more than 130 years to realize again their common destiny, and to design and form a United Europe, once more based on the same principles and values.

It is worth noting, with regard to the Regular Corps of the Greek army, that this was first founded by the French officer, Philhellene and heroic figure of the Greek Revolution, Baleste. Despite the difficulties, a lack of support and resources, and the opposition from the Greek chieftains who did not want a national regular army, Baleste had already done a very good job in training the soldiers of the small regular corps. General Norman and his officers, who were all very experienced in the war, took over and helped relying on their many years of involvement in the Napoleonic Wars.

As already stated, in addition to the regular corps, units of irregular fighters also joined the Greek forces, who were followed by certain chieftains, led by a charismatic Greek leader, Marcos Botsaris. One of the chieftains was Gogos Bakolas. Mavrokordatos was the commander-in-chief of the Greek forces, while General Norman was appointed commander of the three corps of the regular army. At the end of May 1822, the army departed from Corinth towards Epirus, through an adventurous march to Patras. The units of the Philhellenes marched on many occasions in a coordinated and impressive manner, parading while their small band was playing epic tunes. The people they met in their passage welcomed them with great enthusiasm. From the area of ​​Patras, which was then besieged by Greek forces, they sailed with ships to western Greece. A little later, this army started the final phase of the campaign, aiming to approach Arta.

The highly experienced General Norman was observing anxiously many problems of strategy. For example, he was particularly troubled by the fact that the decisions and the movements were slow. Instead of moving quickly towards Arta, without allowing the Turks to assembly an army and take the initiative, the Greek forces let valuable time be lost. On the one hand, the Turks were gathering forces with the comfort of time, and on the other hand, the Greek army was strained, and it begun to suffer from diseases and food shortages. Another big problem was the attitude of the irregulars. And especially the one of chieftain Bakolas. What also worried General Norman, and his staff, was how the units of irregulars would be integrated into the battle plan. In fact, many days before the start of the march to Arta, rumors had already circulated that Bakolas was taking a strange stance and that he was suspiciously related to the Turks. Of course, no one could believe that a Greek would be able to betray the struggle of his own compatriots. Mainly out of courtesy, Norman did not question Mavrokordatos’ assurances and leadership, and he always tried to do his best under the circumstances imposed on him.

Representation of the battle of Kompoti. Work of Panagiotis Zografos, commissioned by General Makrygiannis (SHP Collection).

The first battle with the Turks took place in Kompoti on June 22, 1822. Before the battle, the brave General and great Philhellene Norman, presented his plan. According to it, “the Philhellenes, being regular army soldiers, should not look for the tops of the mountains to defend themselves comfortably, but to remain in the important and dangerous points and not miss the opportunity to face the enemy.”. Accordingly, he deployed the Regiment and the Battalion of the Philhellenes at critical points at the foot of the hills, taking himself position on the front lines of the battle. The enemy attack was confronted successfully, and the Turks were repulsed to Arta with heavy losses. This battle, in which only Norman was in command, was the first brilliant success of the campaign and revived the morale of the men. The doctor of the Battalion, Elster, narrates in his work the “Battalion of the Philhellenes”, that after the end of the battle, when Norman was the last to return from the battlefield to the camp, even the French soldiers greeted him shouting “Long live the brave Norman!”.

The Philhellenes, already exhausted from fatigue, illness, hunger and thirst, left Kompoti hurriedly and marched overnight to Peta, where the Turkish forces were moving. The rest of the Greek forces also gathered there, and the preparation for the battle began.

Representation of the Battle of Peta. Work of Panagiotis Zografos, commissioned by General Makrygiannis (SHP Collection).

A war council took place and it was attended by all military leaders and chieftains. Disagreements surfaced over two issues: 1) The position of the regular army in relation to the one of the irregular fighters. That is, who would be the vanguard and who would be the rearguard, and 2) whether or not fortifications (tambouria) should be built. On the first issue, the view which prevailed was that the forces should be placed in a manner to form a circle around Peta. Norman was dissatisfied with the decision and, realizing the disadvantaged position of the Greek side, he felt obliged to report his concerns in a letter to Mavrokordatos. Although he was the leader of the Greek forces, Mavrokordatos was absent from the battlefield. He had set up his headquarters in Lagada, six hours away from Peta. In his letter, Norman stressed that regular army soldiers numbered only 515. He also noted that he feared that Bacolas would leave his post and that the rest of the irregulars would not be in a position to help. Mavrokordatos was not convinced and the battle plan was not changed. Once more, the experienced General Norman, accepted this decision out of courtesy.

Following the leaders’ disagreement over the fortifications, the prevailing view was that they should be built. In fact, as many sources confirm, the “tampouria” were also used by Philhellenes. This is a rare case in which European soldiers fought in the “Greek way”. That is, with the methods of the irregulars. It is worth noting that the Philhellenes had a different sense of bravery and honor, which is depicted by a position attributed to Dania “our fortifications are our breasts”.

Unfortunately, other mistakes were made, which could not be stopped because they were beyond General Norman’s control. After the battle of Kompoti, Gennaios Kolokotronis and his unit, returned to the Peloponnese, on the orders of his father, an act which was heavily criticized afterwards. At the same time, 1,200 fighters left towards the north to help the Souliotes. They were led by the chieftains Markos Botsaris, Karatasos, Aggelis Gatsos, Georgios Varnakiotis, Alexakis Vlachopoulos and Andreas Iskos. These 1,200 fighters did not even succeed to come close to Souli. The Turks stopped them in the village of Plaka on June 29, 1822 and crushed them. Those who survived returned to Peta. The French Philhellene, Olivier Voutier mentions in his book that Gogos Bacolas (“this deceitful old man”), convinced Marcos Botsaris to move to Souli, and as soon as the unit left, he alerted the Turks to trap them in Plaka.

On the day of the Battle of Peta, a Corps from Mani also arrived in Splantza, led by Kyriakoulis Mavromichalis, to help the Greeks. However, once more this unit was not properly integrated into a single strategic battle plan. A body of Souliotes moved there and joined their positions to confront the Turkish forces sent to repel them. Kyriakoulis Mavromichalis himself was killed in this battle and his warriors decided to leave.

All these moves were not part of a general coordinated plan, and made it difficult for the Greek forces to deal with the main attack of the Turks. But again, despite their small numbers, these forces could still win.

On July 16, 1822, at dawn, the attack of the Turkish forces (7000 to 8000) who had arrived from Arta, began. General Norman woke the men up, cheered them on with warm words, and inspected all the positions of his forces moving from one to the other on horseback. He ran the battlefield to help where needed, “like a god of war”, as reported by Elster. In the beginning, the forces of the Philhellenes and the Regular Corps repulsed the outnumbered enemy troops with great success. The constant and coordinated shots hit the attackers. The key to success in this kind of war is for the soldiers to remain calm, to fill their weapons constantly and quickly, to shoot in a grouped manner, and above all to keep their positions, without allowing a rift in their ranks. The Regiment and the Battalion of the Philhellenes, formed an impenetrable wall. As St Clair notes in his work, the excellent training that the French Philhellene Baleste had begun, was paying off.

Unfortunately, a fatal thing changed the status. Chieftain Bakolas and his men, treacherously abandoned their positions (Bakolas finally changed camp and joined permanently the Turks). The Turkish forces took advantage of this gap, and infiltrated the backs of the solid and well defended positions of the Regiment and the Battalion of the Philhellenes, which resulted in the two bodies being cut off from each other. In the first attempt of the Regiment to be reunited with the Battalion, Commander Tarella fell dead and the Regiment began to retreat. Then this great man, General Norman, was put in charge and led it back to battle, encouraging them with brave words: “For the salvation of the Philhellenes! Victory or death!”. In the attack that followed, General Norman was hit by a bullet to the chest and was transported backwards to deal with his serious injury. Gradually, the Regiment began to retreat and it became progressively an easy target for the Turkish cavalry. The Philhellenes had been abandoned by all the forces of the irregulars. The forces of the Philhellenes and the volunteers from the Ionian Islands experienced a sad and unjust catastrophe. They were surrounded by the enemy at an exposed point and were exterminated.

Many scenes of incredible heroism followed. Dania, who cheered his soldiers until the last moment, was horribly massacred. Fifteen Poles, led by the Polish officer Mierzewski, gathered at St. George’s Church in central Peta and fought with incredible bravery, fighting even on the roof of the church. They were all heroically killed. A French officer, Mignac (who had clashed with German philhellenes during the campaign), also fought with unique bravery. The Turks tried to arrest him alive because he was wearing an impressive uniform and they thought that he was General Norman, the leader of the Philhellenes. Mignac refused to surrender and fought valiantly. In the end, being seriously injured in the leg, because he could not stand, he leaned on the trunk of an olive tree to stay upright and continued fighting in all directions, neutralizing fourteen Turks. His body was full of wounds, and when he broke his sword, he committed suicide by cutting his throat.

Among the volunteers of the Regular Corps, 160 soldiers from the Ionians islands and Philhellenes (one third of the force) were killed. Many of the prisoners were taken to Arta and killed by the Turks after being tortured and humiliated. Many Philhellenes were forced to walk naked for hours, holding the decapitated heads of their comrades in their hands.

The few survivors gathered in Lagada, among them the tragic figure of the day, the noble and brave General Norman. As after the battle of Kompoti, this time he arrived at the camp last and seriously wounded, on his dying horse. He presented himself to Mavrokordatos, to whom he stated: “We have lost everything, Your Highness, except our honor!”. The Battalion of the Philhellenes, and hundreds of enthusiastic European Philhellenes, and Greeks from the Ionian islands, no longer existed.

Monument in Peta, in memory of the fallen Philhellenes in the battle of Peta.

With the bitterness of the final defeat and the betrayal that caused it, General Norman (who now suffered a serious injury) headed with his comrades to Messolonghi. He stayed there, he continued to offer his services and helped fortify the city. He died shortly afterwards in November of the same year (1822), defeated by the complications of his wound, high fever and the psychological pressure he felt because of his responsibility for the battle of Peta. He had drifted young men to come and fight for the freedom of Greece, and he had done everything he could to lead them to victory. However, he was tormented by the fact that he had realized the mistakes and dangers, and the catastrophe they could cause, and he could have avoided them if he had tried to impose his views and his military authority. Unfortunately, he did not do so out of respect for the Greek administration.

The comments of the comrades in Greece of this great Philhellene General Norman, for their leader, as recorded in diaries and memoirs, are multiple. Many refer to him as “the flower of the Frank knights”, a brave and educated warrior, sensible, approachable and beloved as a father to soldiers. Others attribute to him, based on the developments in Peta, but also on events dating back to 1813 (also influenced by the differences between the Prussians and the French), a lack of confidence and indecision.

However, what no one among them disputes, is his genuine and selfless philhellenic feelings, his bravery and his sincere devotion to the interests of Greece. Ultimately, it is his virtues which prevented him from demanding complete control of the armed forces by Mavrokordatos, and from accepting that Greeks could ever betray their own comrades-in-arms, Greeks and Philhellenes.

It is worth noting here that after the battle of Peta, an imposing memorial prayer took place in Aetoliko, in which all the clergy and the people of the region participated. The French Philhellene Raybaud, describes in his book this ceremony and the pain in the faces of the Greeks and Philhellenes; among others of Mavrokordatos himself who was devastated.

Norman’s contribution to the Greek Revolution was first honored in Messolonghi, where one of the canon positions of the fortifications of 1825-26 was named after him. The body of the great Philhellene was buried there. This part of the fort was completely blown up during the fall of Messolonghi by the Turks.

The monument of the German Philhellenes in Messolonghi. The name of General Norman is mentioned first.

The name of General Norman is also placed in a central position on the Monument of the Philhellenes of the Catholic Church of Nafplio.

The Catholic Church of Metamorphosis tou Sotiros (The Transfiguration of the Saviour) in Nafplion and the Arch memorial of Philhellenes at its entrance. It mentions the name of General Norman.

A small street in the historic center of Athens, perpendicular to Ermou Street, bears the name “Normanou Street”, after the great Philhellene General Norman.

Normanou Street is named after General Norman

A stone column from 1830 in Waldkirchen, Bavaria, also mentions his struggle for the freedom of the Greeks. Finally, his name is also written in golden letters, along with that of other freedom fighters of 1821, and Philhellenes, such as Lord Byron and Fabvier, at the Propylaea in Munich.

The Propylaea in Munich. Symbol of Greek-Bavarian friendship and monument of the Greek Struggle for Independence.

The name of General Norman inside the Munich Propylaea.

General Norman was honored by France with the Order of the Knight of the Legion of Honor on December 10, 1808.

Greece and the Greeks will forever express feelings of immense gratitude for this emblematic noble German General and will always honor him for his heroic contribution to the struggle for the independence of Greece.

 

Bibliography and sources:

  • William St Clair, That Greece might still be free, 2008 (1972).
  • J.D. Elster, Das Bataillon der Philhellenen, 1828 (ελλην. μετάφραση Χρ. Οικονόμου, 2010).
  • Eugen Schneider, Normann-Ehrenfels, Karl Graf von, Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie 24 (1887).
  • K.Dieterich, Deutsche Philhellenen in Griechenland 1821-1822, 1929.
  • Ιστορία του Ελληνικού Έθνους τ. ΙΒ’, Η ελληνική επανάσταση, 1975.
  • Ν. Κανελλόπουλος – Ν. Τόμπρος, Η στρατιωτική δράση των Φιλελλήνων στη μάχη του Πέτα, Αργολική Αρχειακή Βιβλιοθήκη Ιστορίας και Πολιτισμού 2017.
  • ανών., Normann-Ehrenfels, Supplément à la Galerie historique des contemporains (tome 2), 1830.
  • Samuel Gridley Howe, Historical Sketch of the Greek Revolution, M.D. New York, 1828.
  • Emil von Normann: Geschichte der Gesammt-Familie von Normann. Ulm 1894, S. 148–152.
  • Regine Quack-Manoussakis: Der Deutsche Philhellenismus während des griechischen Freiheitskampfes 1821–27. München 1984.
  • Frank Ackermann: Von Ehrenfels nach Missolunghi. Das abenteuerliche Leben des Generals Carl Graf von Normann-Ehrenfels. Kilchberg 2012.
  • Graf Normann’sche Familienpapiere. — Starklof, Geschichte des königl. würtembergischen vierten Reiterregiments.

 

 

 

The Propylaea (Propyläen) is an impressive building, which has the form of a monumental gate to Munich, situated at the western side of Königsplatz.

The monument is inspired by Greek architectural principles and the entrance of the Propylaea of the Acropolis in Athens. It was designed by Leo von Klenze, following the Doric order outside, and the Ionic order inside.

The construction was commissioned by Ludwig I, who used for this his own private funds, with an aim to build a symbol of the friendship between Greece and Bavaria, and a memorial for the Greek War of Independence and the accession to the throne of Othon of Greece.

The Propylaea was inaugurated around one year before King Otto resigned from his throne in Greece.

The monument is composed by two towers and a gate in the middle, allowing riders on horses and carts with horses to pass by it to move to the centre of Munich.

Ludwig Michael Schwanthaler designed various reliefs and sculptures to decorate the memorial and to celebrate the Bavarian prince and the Greek War of Independence.

The inner part of the gate, bears on six walls the names of the heroes of the Greek revolution, Greeks and Philhellenes.

 

 

 

Frank Abney Hastings (1794-1828) was a British Commander and great Philhellene, with important action and contribution throughout the Greek War for independence.

He was born in 1794 and was the second-born son of Baron and general of the British infantry Charles Hastings, eleventh Earl of Huntingdon (Francis Hastings, 10th Earl of Huntingdon) and Parnell Abney. Both his parents were noble and very wealthy financially, and their son Frank could have a very comfortable life. To understand the origin of Frank Abney Hastings, we note here that the Hastings family had many distinguished members. For example, Warren Hastings, India’s first General Governor, was Frank’s cousin. In addition, the important military politician, Francis Rawdon-Hastings, later governor of India (from 1813 to 1823), was a cousin of his father.

Frank’s father noticed his son’s interest in naval matters, and directed him to join the Royal Navy from an early age. So Frank Abney Hastings enlisted in the Navy at the tender age of about 9 years old, when his peers were under the supervision of their family or nannies. Young Hastings gained quickly significant naval experience, and even from his involvement in war operations. It is remarkable that when he was 11 years old, he took an active part in the emblematic naval battle of Trafalgar and served in the two-decker “Neptune” that belonged to the fleet of Admiral Nelson. In this naval battle, the stern and a large part of the ship exploded. Hastings even took part in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.

During his service in the British Navy he sailed all the seas of the world, had a successful career for fifteen consecutive years, specialised in artillery and reached the rank of master.

In 1807 Hastings was transferred to the 42-cannon frigate “Seahorse”, with the mission of monitoring French ships between Toulon and the Ionian Islands (then under French rule). In this phase of his career, Hastings became well acquainted with the Greek seas, and even took part in operations against the Turks (something that is not mentioned in most of his biographies). On July 5, 1808, his ship came face to face between Skopelos and Alonissos islands, with two Turkish ships, the “Badere-i-Zaffer” (with 52 cannons) and the “Alis Fezan” (with 26 cannons). Hastings’ ship was at a disadvantage. But thanks to the exemplary discipline of the crew and the high training of British sailors, after two days of conflict, the “Seahorse” took over the “Badere-i-Zaffer”, while the “Alis Fezan” fled.

Hastings was promoted and transferred to the emblematic 105-cannon frigate, “Victory”. Known as the flagship of Admiral Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar. He then served on many other ships, undertook military and scientific missions, and got to know all the seas from the Baltic region, to America, Asia, and China.

In 1819 he took command of the hydrographic ship “Kangaroo”, with which he arrived at the port of Jamaica. There he quarreled with the admiral, who accused him of incorrectly anchoring (he placed his anchor at a point that allegedly made it difficult for the admiral’s flagship to move), and even insulted him (probably unfairly) publicly in front of his crew. Hastings was particularly addicted by the public nature of this reprimand, and went so far as to call the admiral into a duel. In fact, he considered this behavior so unfair that he even refused to testify before the Commission appointed to investigate the case. This act led him out of the English Royal Navy.

Hastings returned to England, and after a while he left in 1820 for France. He stayed with a friendly family in Caen for a year and then moved to Paris. There he met Greek patriot from Russia, Nikolaos Kallergis, who became and remained his close friend until the end of his life. In Paris he came in contact with many Philhellenes and discovered the work of Lord Byron.

Lord Byron. Portrait of the 19th century. Oil on canvas (SHP Collection).

Hastings was excited by the struggle of the Greeks and began to actively support it. He soon decided to go to Greece and enlist as a volunteer in the Greek Revolutionary Forces. He had prepared this trip wisely, being conscious of his mission. For this purpose, he even procured various instruments useful for the artillery, with the aim to be as useful as possible to the Greek forces. He also brought with him an important library with works by Edward Gibbon, Shakespeare, Walter Scott, etc.

He went to Marseille, France, and from there he left for Greece aboard of the Swedish ship “Trondjem”, on April 3, 1822, together with other volunteers and the American Philhellene George Jarvis. At the end of April 1822 he arrived in Hydra. At first, he was treated with suspicion because the British governor of the Ionian Islands, Thomas Maitland, had adopted at that time a negative attitude towards the Greeks. On the contrary, the American George Jarvis was immediately received with honors, something which bothered Hastings. In fact, this situation almost led the two great Philhellenes to a duel. Fortunately, they were separated by their mutual friend (another important Philhellene), John Hane.

Hastings came in contact with Mavrokordatos and Tombazis and insisted on his pure intentions and dedication to the struggle of the Greeks. In fact, he sent the following letter to Mavrokordatos, in French: “Because I found your Highness busy yesterday when I had the honor of appearing at your desk, I decided to take the courage to address you in writing. I will speak freely to you, convinced that your highness will answer in the same way. I will not bother you with stories on my venue to defend the Greek cause. I came uninvited and I have no right to complain if my services are not accepted. I only regret that I cannot add my name to the liberators of Greece. I will not stop wishing for the triumph of freedom and civilization against tyranny and barbarism… “.

The misunderstanding was quickly resolved, and after learning about the status of the operations, Hastings presented his ideas and proposals for the organization of a navy. Mavrokordatos and Tombazis recognized in Frank Abney Hastings, a capable soldier with valuable naval knowledge that Greece needed, and a man with deep feelings of love for Greece. So they surrounded him with their trust and treated him with due respect. It was agreed that Hastings would enlist directly in the Navy of Hydra, and on April 30, 1822, he was appointed to command an important ship of the Tombazis brothers, the “Themistocles” (war corvette).

Hastings collaborated with Tombazis and Sachtouris, he was progressively loved by Greek sailors and he easily commanded ships and Greek crews. At the same time, however, he worked diligently to train the personnel of his ship, and to impose the principles of discipline, necessary to achieve high efficiency. One of his first missions was the naval campaign of retaliation against the Turks for the massacre in Chios.

In one naval operation, “Themistocles” had come too close to the Turkish-occupied coast, attempting to disembark part of his crew on a mission to northern Lesvos. The wind suddenly stopped being favourable and the ship became an easy target for the Turkish cannons firing from the land. The rest of the crew suddenly hid to avoid enemy bullets, as it appeared that the ship would sink. Hastings worked alone with the Captain, and with coordinated interventions on the sails, trying to get the most of the minimal wind, he managed to safely remove the ship. This act, his courage and bravery, made him a hero already from his first days in the Greek Navy.

Hastings participated with “Themistocles” in many military operations. In addition to his heroism, he also contributed with his innovative proposals. So he installed on the ship various modern measuring instruments for optimal navigation and accurate use of the artillery. In fact, he constantly made innovative proposals and suggested various improvements. Many of these, such as a series of special uses of the sails, or the use of a light anchor, were accepted. Others did not have such luck. For example, the Greeks did not want to place heavy cannons on their ships; as a result, they could not attack the Turkish ships from afar. So the basic strategy for attacking enemy targets was to use fire ships, which limited their operational capabilities. Hastings also insisted to install furnaces to heat the bullets before firing them to the enemy. The Greek ship-owners did not want to implement this suggestion either, because they considered it dangerous for their ships.

Hastings realized that many of his proposals were rejected by the Greek captains because they were owners of their private ships, and did not want to endanger them. For this reason he was dissatisfied with Miaoulis and asked to be transferred to the mainland. There he received the rank of Colonel of the Artillery and was assigned the command of the Greek Artillery. This was based on a few and almost useless old cannons. Hastings tried to rely on his know-how in artillery to use it in the best possible way the cannons, during the bombing of the castle of Nafplion from Bourtzi (the small island in front of the port), which was controlled by the Greeks.

After that, Hastings organized and equipped at his own expense a corps of 50 men and joined the Greek forces guarding the routes allowing Nafplion to communicate with Corinth and receive supplies.

In May 1823, the Greek administration appointed Hastings in charge of artillery in the campaign in Crete, led by Emmanuel Tombazis, who had been appointed commander of Crete. The Greeks landed an expeditionary force of 1,200 men, which was accompanied by Hastings’ artillery. After the siege, they captured the fortress of Castelli. They then gathered a force of 5,500 men and marched towards Chania. In October 1823, Hastings got seriously ill with a high fever and left the operations before the end of the year. Unfortunately, the campaign failed and Tombazis left Crete in April 1824. The Greek forces returned to the Peloponnese.

Frank Abney Hastings, lithography, Karl Krazeisen (SHP Collection).

In addition to his constant participation in war conflicts, tireless Frank Abney Hastings never stopped planning moves and initiatives to improve the operational capabilities of the Greek fleet, modernize it, upgrade its equipment and prepare it to face successfully the Turkish-Egyptian fleet.

In this context, Frank Abney Hastings suggested equipping the Greek fleet with steam-powered warships. His proposal was based on the following logic. The Greeks had few and small ships, with few and small-range cannons, and of course several fire ships. On the contrary, the Turks had more and larger ships, with many more cannons and of longer range. Under certain weather conditions, the capable Greek sailors (with flexible handling and the combined threat of fire ships) could face the Turkish fleet. But in order to gain an advantage, they had to have fast ships at their disposal, capable to moving even without sails, even when there was no wind, with reliable, powerful and long-range cannons, and a strong armour that could withstand enemy fire.

After the campaign in Crete, Hastings studied the capabilities of Ibrahim Pasha’s navy, and concluded that the Greeks had now lost the advantage they had at sea during the first phase of the war. Their ships could no longer withstand or even approach the much larger Turkish ones, while the fire ships had gradually become useless.

Hastings submitted several memoranda to the government, in one of which he stated: “Greece cannot be effective against the Turks, without a definitive superiority over the sea, as it needed to prevent them from supporting their fortresses and resupplying their armies.”

When Lord Byron came to Greece, Hastings wrote to him twice and presented his views. He then went to meet him in Messolonghi. Lord Byron did not treat his proposals as a matter of first priority. In fact, Hastings mentions in his notes: «(I) got heartily laughed at for my pain (…) by Lord Byron and some other genius’s »

In Messolonghi he met Count Gamba (friend of Byron and brother of his last companion), who contributed later in the construction of the steamship “Karteria”. He also met Colonel Stanhope, and persuaded him of his ideas. In fact, Stanhope stated in his own writings: “Captain Hastings is looking forward to getting a steamship on his own, offering himself 1,000 pounds to the fund-raising. He argues that with a single ship carrying cannons of 32 pounds and a furnace to heat bullets, he may paralyze the blockade of Chalkis, Karystos, Nafpaktos, Patras”. And he also confirms “If Greece had 3 or 4 steamships, it would no longer have to fear another navy apart from the English”. Another important Philhellene who supported Hastings’ proposals was the British Philhellene Edward Blaquiere.

Frank Abney Hastings suggested the construction of steamships, with the aim to allow Greek forces to regain supremacy and control at sea and suggested that he personally takes care of the design of the ships. In order to fully assess his courage and insight, it is worth noting that at that time only the US Navy had one steamship, but which had never taken part in military operations.

From his correspondence with Mavrokordatos and others, it appears that Hastings was systematically putting forward his plan. At first, everyone discouraged him by saying that there were no financial resources to purchase the steamships. But then the tragic fall of Mesolonghi followed, which was mainly caused by the success of the Turkish-Egyptians in imposing a naval blockade on the city, and depriving it of the opportunity to be supplied with food and ammunition. Greek ships were never able to break this blockade. The Greek administration, which had now lost all the cities, apart from Nafplion and the islands, realized that it had to regain control of the sea and decided to use part of the second loan of Independence to build a strong fleet.

At the same time, Hastings and the Hellenic Committee of London, contacted Thomas Cohrane, who had been very successful in supporting liberation movements in South America. Cohrane was a living legend at the time. They persuaded him to join the Greek struggle. Hastings presented his plan and Cohrane asked for the construction of a fleet of six steam-powered ships, like “Karteria”.

For all these reasons, the Greek administration accepted Hastings’ proposal, and instructed him to supervise the construction of the first steamship in England. After a series of misfortunes, conflicts of opinion between different stakeholders, and thanks to the intervention of Count Pierre Gamba, Edward Blaquiere, and others, Hastings took full responsibility, and the first ship was completed. The ship was delivered in Hastings name to avoid a diplomatic incident between the United Kingdom and the Ottoman Empire.

The ship was originally named “Perseverance”, and when it arrived in Greece it received the Greek name “Karteria”. Frank Abney Hastings contributed to the design and construction of the ship, while he designed himself his state-of-the-art military equipment, which he funded entirely by paying 7,000 pounds (a huge amount for the time) from his personal fortune. At the same time, he prepared the ship for naval operations and bought with his own money even the naval navigation instruments and maps.

“Karteria” was a 125ft long, 25 wide, 400 ton, 4-masted schooner with two engines run on steam from coal-fired boilers, 16 rpm, 84 horse, driving port / starboard paddle wheels and 6 knots. Originally she was to have one 32 pound gun forward and one aft, and two 68 pounders in the middle, fired in turn with the ship rotating by her paddle wheels. Red hot shot was to be used, which was lethal for enemy sail and wood ships. She travelled under sail and the steam engines were used only in action.

“Karteria” was the most modern ship in the Mediterranean.

Dimitris Caipatzis is the writer of an important study titled: ‘KARTERIA’ THE FIRST STEAM WARSHIP IN WAR (1826), which can be downloaded here.

The steam-powered warship “Karteria” and the frigate “Hellas”. The first two ships owned by the Greek Navy. Lithography, Karl Krazeisen (SHP Collection).

The figure head of the “Karteria” steamship, Historical Museum, Athens.

The Greek administration appointed Hastings Commander of this new steamship, “Karteria”, which was at the time the jewel and pride of the Greek fleet. The long journey from London to Athens was already a challenge.

When the ship arrived in Cagliari, Sardinia, it caught fire in the engine room. Hastings sent immediately his friend and crew member, Finley, to England, with orders to bring engineers and spare parts. The damage was repaired, the ship continued its journey and at the beginning of September 1826, it arrived in Nafplion, where it was welcomed with pride and enthusiasm by the whole city. Frank Abney Hastings justified his reputation of a hero.

As soon as Hastings arrived at the port, he called the Greek administration to take care of all the formalities, to transfer ownership of the ship, which still carried the English flag. A few days later, the hoisting of the Greek flag took place, which was now proudly waving on the mast of this modern ship. This historic event was greeted by canon fire from the fortress of Nafplion.

As the historian Mendelssohn-Bartholdy reports: “The virtue meant by this name (perseverance), was to the distressed in many way Greeks, expecting help from Christian conscientiousness and the sympathy of the powerful of the world, very much-needed. Karteria and Karteria and eternally Karteria in those exposed many times to myriad dangers and embarrassment and dire anguish and total despair … » (free translation).

The Greek administration transferred Hastings from the Army back to the Navy and appointed him captain of the ship. He selected the crew meticulously and with strict and meritocratic criteria.

Frank Abney Hastings as Governor of the British Navy. Portrait from Finley’s library. Published in the work “Hastings and his work in Greece”, Athens, 1928.

The crew of “Karteria” consisted of the brave and hard-working sailors chosen by Hastings himself. Another emblematic Philhellene, American military doctor Samuel Howe, was aboard the ship, and was later replaced by another great German Philhellene, Heirich Treiber. Both expressed their admiration for Hastings in their memoirs, but have also captured images and snapshots of life on the ship and its involvement in military operations.

“Karteria” took part in many military campaigns and naval battles. This steam-powered ship caused awe and panic in the enemy when it appeared. The Turks referred to it as “the frigate of fire.”

The first mission was to support Greek forces, led by another British Philhellene, Thomas Gordon, to land in Piraeus, with the aim of liberating Athens. The landing took place on February 5, 1827.

“Karteria” gathered its fire at the Monastery of Agios Spyridon, where the Turkish troops were deployed, in order to provide cover to the Corps of 2300 men disembarked by Thomas Gordon.

The Turks sent reinforcements and 5 large cannons of long range and the “Karteria” was removed to avoid their fire. A few days later, the Turks attacked the positions where Gordon’s Corps had camped. “Karteria” intervened immediately in order to attract the fire of the Turks on it, offering valuable time to Gordon’s forces to organize their defence. Hastings’s plan succeeded and the Greeks kept their positions. Meanwhile, “Karteria” destroyed 3 of the 5 Turkish cannons. However, it also received several bullets, some of which caused damages. It was that that everyone realised the genius design of “Karteria” by Hastings. The engine room was protected inside the boat, which was designed with many different watertight compartments. If one caught fire or water, the ship could continue to sail and operate. “Karteria” sailed away when the Turkish counterattack failed, leaving Gordon’s Corps safe. The damages were repaired a little later.

The American Philhellene doctor Samuel Howe mentions in his memoirs that the shells from the Turkish forts in Attica hit the ship and bounced off without causing serious damage and praises the worthy Commander who maneuvered flexibly in the shallow waters near Piraeus.

In addition to the genius design of the ship, from a shipbuilding point of view, the design of its weapons was also genius and innovative. Hastings took into account that the wheels with the wings mounted on either side of the ship limited the space available for him to place cannons. So he decided to place less, but more powerful, in the free points of the ship, and to achieve a tremendous firepower. He based his design on his extensive experience, but also on the study of the work of the French army officer and artillery expert Henri Joseph Paixhans.

First, he equipped the “Karteria” with a safe furnace to heat the bullets before they were placed in the cannons for firing. Thus, each incandescent red bullet caused enormous damage, and provoked explosions and fires, regardless of where it hit the enemy ship. It is estimated that when a red bullet fell on the enemy ship, it had about the same effect as a fireship.

Second, originally he planned to install a 32-pound cannon in front and a rear one, and a 68-pound cannon on each side of the ship. Finally, he installed four 68-pound cannons, which fired incandescent red bullets, which caused large explosions when they found their target.

Model of the steam-powered “Karteria”. The position of the ship’s cannons can be seen. The model was presented to the Baltic Exchange in London in 1923 by the Greek shipping community.

Third, it planned to create a national navy, which would operate by naval discipline in accordance with best practices internationally, and would belong to the central state and not to private ship-owners. The crew consisted mainly of Britons, Swedes and Greeks. Among them were the Scottish Philhellene and historian George Finlay, but also the American doctor Samuel Howe and then the German doctor Heinrich Treiber.

Hastings, after blocking Eretria with the Greek fleet, took part in the naval forced which attacked Oropos in March 1827, with the aim of destroying enemy installations that coordinated the supply through Evia of the Turkish troops besieging the Acropolis of Athens.

ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG No 121, 1 May 1827. Detailed presentation of the Battle of Karaiskakis on 15 and 16 March in Keratia or Keratsini on the left side of Piraeus, where 1,000 Greeks clashed with 1,500 enemy infantry and 500 cavalry, and defeated them. The frigate “Hellas”, the steamship “Karteria” and the ship “Nelson” of Dimitrios Paparisolis from Psara, left the bay of Eretria which they had blocked, for Oropos. There they seized, among others, two ships full of food supplies which they transported to Aegina. […]. 8th, p. 4. In German (SHP Collection).

The strategic goal of the mission was the expulsion of the Turks from Attica and the end of the siege of the Acropolis in Athens.

The attack was coordinated by the great German Philhellene of Swiss descent (and later one of the three regents until the coming of age of King Othon), Karl Wilhelm von Heideck. The Greek fleet comprised the “Hellas” frigate, “Karteria” and other ships carrying Greek troops.

“Karteria” captured two enemy cargo ships that arrived at the port with supplies (mainly flour and wheat) from Evia. Immediately afterwards, it anchored 200 meters from the shore and with a continuous bombardment it neutralized the Turkish fort and blew up its powder magazine. Subsequently, reinforcements and a strong Turkish cavalry unit arrived, and the Greek forces returned to Aegina.

Meanwhile, in the spring of 1827, Cohrane arrived in Greece and took over the duties of the Admiral of the Greek fleet. Hastings rejoiced because he thought that at last the entire Greek fleet would operate in a coordinated fashion. The strange thing was that Cohrane offered him complete autonomy and gave him the opportunity to have complete control over his ship and the organization of the operations he undertook.

After the operation in Oropos, Hastings planed his next move, always with the aim of serving the same strategic choice, which was the withdrawal of the Turks from Attica. So he turned to Volos, where the supplies from Thessaloniki and Constantinople ended. Volos was the largest supply centre for the Turkish troops in central Greece.

Hastings assembled a squadron of four ships which were rented to the government by their ship-owners (Tombazis ‘”Themistocles”, Miaoulis’ “Mars” and two smaller ones). When the squadron arrived in Volos, Hastings placed “Themistocles” and “Mars” opposite to the Turkish forts. “Karteria” turned against the Turkish units that had been deployed in trenches, and the cargo carriers and their escort boats that were found in the port.

After a fierce battle that lasted 4 hours, all the Turkish positions had been neutralized, their gunpowder depots had been blown up and all the Turkish ships had sunk or were seized. “Karteria” had fired a total of 300 shells (i.e. about one shell every 48 seconds). Greek fishermen informed Hastings that the Turkish warships had moved in the Gulf of Trikeri in Pelion, at a point that provided them with support from the surrounding forts, to protect themselves. Hastings devised a new plan and attacked the next day, sinking or neutralizing most of the ships he found in Trikeri. Two members of the “Karteria” crew were killed in the clash. One of them was a brave British Philhellene, especially loved by the crew, named James Hall. The loss angered the rest of the crew, and another British sailor attempted to retaliate by killing all Turkish prisoners. Hastings, who complied with a code of honour that imposed to respect prisoners, was forced to arrest this sailor.

The Greek squadron, which had suffered several casualties in the meantime, took the road back to the naval base in Poros. During the return trip, Hastings’ squadron captured another 4 cargo carriers coming from Evia bringing supplies to the Turkish army in Attica.

In May 1827 the crew of “Karteria” reacted because they were unpaid for a long time. Hastings briefed Cohrane and the government. Once again, the great Philhellene covered the salaries with his own money. And it was neither the first nor the last time he did so.

In the summer of 1827 a series of operations were organized against the forces of Ibrahim. In fact, one of them was intended to capture and arrest Ibrahim himself, but it was cancelled due to bad weather. In September, the Greek fleet, consisting of 23 ships (including “Karteria”), led by Admiral Cohrane, took up positions in the Ionian Sea, targeting Messolonghi and the western part of Greece. The recovery of these territories was a strategic choice of governor Kapodistrias, who needed arguments to claim the borders of the new Greek state to be as far north as possible.

It is recalled that on July 6, 1827, the Treaty of London was signed, which ensured the liberation of Greece and imposed a truce on the warring parties. While the Greeks accepted it, the Turks had rejected it and continued the hostilities, so the Greeks continued military operations as well. Admiral Codrington asked Cohrane not to provoke with hostile actions. Greece accepted it and withdrew most of its fleet from the Ionian Sea. So Cohrane turned to other parts of the Aegean. But he left Hastings there with “Karteria” and a squadron, in a mission to regain full control of the area and advance the recapture of Messolonghi.

Frank Abney Hastings took advantage of this opportunity and offered one of the most emblematic and important successes of the Greek War of Independence. The naval battle of Agali, which took place in Itea in September 1827.

He himself led the squadron of the Greek navy, which included “Karteria” and 5 other ships (“Sotir”, two galleys and two cannon boats, “Bavaria” and “Philellinida”), to enter the gulf of Corinth. This was a particularly dangerous operation, because any approaching ship was at that time exposed to the crossfire of Turkish artillery for the forts of Rio and Antirrio.

On September 30, 1827, the Greek squadron reached the Gulf of Itea, where they met 11 anchored Turkish ships. The Turkish admiral had his flag on a large 16-gun flagship and he was guarding three Austrian cargo carriers full of supplies. The Greek squadron began to move around the port, waiting for the wind to become favourable. At the earliest opportunity, Hastings entered early in the morning the Salona bay, which was protected by an impregnable fortress. The Turks believed that the small squadron was trapped and they prepared to capture the ships. “Karteria” chose the best possible position, five hundred meters away from the Turkish flagship. It anchored and started firing slowly in order to control the distance. At ten o’clock in the morning a quick fire started with incandescent red shells. Soon one of them ended up in the gunpowder depot of the Turkish flagship, which exploded and scattered in small pieces all over the sea, causing thunders that were heard in all the mountains of the area.

The outcome of the naval battle was incredible. “Karteria” sank the Turkish flagship and destroyed 9 of the 11 Turkish ships parked there. Hastings seized three major carriers and their rich cargos.

Battle of Agali or Itea in 1827. Oil painting by Ioannis Poulakas (1864-1942)

The Battle of Agali was the first major military engagement involving a steam-powered warship. During this naval battle, as well as shortly before the attack in Trikeri, Hastings tested for the first time in international military history a steamship and innovative artillery tactics, which were the subject of study and promotion, which attracted attention internationally. For example, Blackwood’s Edinburgh magazine writes about it:

“The battle of the Salona bay provided the most satisfactory evidence of the effectiveness of the armament of the steamships by heavy artillery in favour of which Master Hastings spoke so warmly and for a long time. The terrifying and rapid force, by virtue of which a so superior force was completely annihilated by the red bullets fired and the explosive shells of “Karteria”, imposed silence on the opponents of Hastings’ plans in Europe. And to all those who study the progress of the naval war, it became clear from that day that more than one state in the future would accept his position on naval artillery and they would arm many ships, following the example he gave”.

Blackwood’s Edinburgh magazine, 1827.

However, this naval battle had another serious effect. It now persuaded the Greeks to abandon the tactic of constituting a fleet by leasing private ships and to build instead a fleet that would belong to the state. Until then, the fleet for every military operation was formed by assignments to individuals. Those who contributed their ships received certificates such as the following.

WAR DIPLOMA 1826 – The Administration Committee of Greece appoints Captain Giannis G. Koutzis and his ship “Themistoklis” to the National Fleet to take part in the common fight against the enemy. Signatures of the Committee, A. Zaimis, P. Mavromichalis, Rev. Deligiannis, G. Sisinis, D. Tsamados, A. Chatzianargyrou, S. Trikoupi, A. Iskos, I. Vlachos, P. Dimitrakopoulos. Seal of the Committee and signature of the General Secretary K. Zografou. Nafplion 5 August 1826 (SHP Collection). Detail: Giannis G. Koutzis was an important captain / ship-owner of the Greek Revolution, who has not received the recognition he deserves, because he linked his name to the controversy he had with the Greek hero Bouboulina, which ended in her death.

The ship-owners who offered their ships received promissory notes to get their compensation with interests from the National Fund in three years.

Promissory note to repay 1000 gurus with interest from the National Fund, in three years (SHP Collection).

The great victory of the battle of Agali stimulated the morale of the Greeks. We remind that during this period the Greeks had lost Messolonghi, and Athens, with the result that all of central Greece was controlled by the Turks. After this victory, from the moment the Turkish fleet was destroyed in the gulf of Corinth, Hastings was now free to land troops in western Greece and supply them in time without any problems. Thanks to these developments, the units of Kostas Botsaris, Kitsos Tzavellas, Dimitrios Ypsilantis and the Regular Corps of the British General Church, were deployed in western and eastern Greece. A series of military operations were launched to ensure that the Greek forces which landed secure positions, which would allow Greece to claim more territory, critical to have enough geographical space for a viable state.

The Admiral of the Greek Navy, Cohrane, congratulated Hastings on his great victory: “You have done a lot and worthwhile to open the transport communications. Take care now of them, the position is dangerous if my information is true, the enemy fleet arrived to Patras. I grant you all the freedom to do whatever you think is best for the public service.”

Hastings headed to Patras with the goal of blocking the port. When he arrived in Rio, he received heavy fire from the Turkish forts, which he bombarded with his squadron, inflicting significant blows to the Turks. In fact, the marks left by “Karteria’s” red missiles on the forts remained indelible in time and are still visible today.

The fortress in the port of Rio, near the city of Patras.

These days, one of the most emblematic events of the Greek struggle for Independence took place, as well as a historic moment for Philhellenism.

At one point while “Karteria” and Hastings’s squadron were patrolling the area, the crew spotted a large Austrian-flagged cargo ship heading to Patras to supply the Turks.

It is noted that since March 1822, the Greek Administration had declared a blockade to all the Turkish-occupied ports of Greece.

Decision of the Greek administration, of March 13, 1822, declaring the blockade of all the ports of Greece from Epirus, the Peloponnese, up to Thessaly, and all the Aegean islands including Crete. It is signed by Mavrokordatos (President of the Executive) and Negris (Minister of Foreign Affairs).

The Austrian Consul contacted Hastings to demand the safe entry of the Austrian ship into Patras. Hastings replied: “Being the Austrian consul, of course you have been informed that the Greek government has declared the blockade of Patras and that a Greek warship is patrols the port.”

It is recalled that at that time the Austrian Empire was a superpower, and that its diplomatic representative was aware of the power and prestige of his position. So the Consul replied to Hastings: “My state does not recognize the Greek government, nor does it accept the validity of its actions.”

Hastings was adamant: “Sir, I have been ordered to ratify these acts by force of arms, and I must ask you to go immediately to the Austrian carrier and have the master come here with the supporting documents.”

The Austrian Consul considered that he could impose his position, and replied: “I think I am speaking to an English and because neither Austria nor Turkey are at war with England, you must respect the Austrian flag.”

To this challenge, the great Philhellene and hero of the Greek Revolution, responded with words that have now gone down in history, and show the greatness of this man: Sir, you speak, to a Greek officer, commanding the squadron of the blockade and if the Austrian ship is not set immediately under my command, I will sink it. As I will also shoot the Turkish camp; you have only five minutes, he said, taking out his watch and asked the Consul to leave. The Consul left without believing that Hastings would dare to carry out his threat. The great Philhellene, however, waited for exactly 5 minutes, and immediately afterwards ordered the bombing of the ship, which sank in a short time. At the same time, “Karteria’s” guns neutralized Turkish cannons on land.

The successes of Hastings worried the Turkish-Egyptian forces, who, after realizing the pressure exerted on them by the Greek naval forces, tried to take initiatives to confront the Greeks. These developments had angered Ibrahim Pasha himself, who had called for Hastings to be arrested and punished by example. Even Cohrane himself had advised Hastings to stay in the Gulf of Corinth in a safe place to avoid Ibrahim’s revenge.

These moves by Ibrahim, however, offered Admiral Codrignton the pretext he was looking for to neutralize the Turkish-Egyptian fleet, since they were now officially violating the truce and continued to attack the Greeks. The strategic goal was to deprive Ibrahim of his ability to receive supply from Egypt, so that he would be forced to leave the Peloponnese. This great Admiral, an admirer of Lord Byron, had already received clear instructions from the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, a friend of Lord Byron and a Philhellene, George Canning several months ago, to expel Ibrahim from the Peloponnese as soon as possible, “either with the use of diplomatic language or with the persuasion of arms.” Canning (one of the high level internationally personalities to whom Greece owes its freedom and independence) had made his position clear long ago, and this was known to the international public opinion.

Gazette de France, March 10, 1827. “George Canning sent a new official memorandum to the sultan for peace in Greece. He called for an immediate end to hostilities on land and at sea and for a diplomatic solution to the Greek problem. It seems that Britain and Russia would do anything to stop the war.” SHP Collection.

Thus, the Allied fleet entered Navarino. But Codrington’s intentions were well known to Ibrahim, and because he knew that his large fleet could not confront the smaller but more experienced one of the allies, he considered he had set a trap attracting them to enter the Navarino gulf. Indeed, in this narrow space, Ibrahim could rely on the cannons of his own ships (about 90) plus the cannons of the forts from land, while the allies had only 28 ships. Despite the multiple firepower, the panic and failure of Ibrahim’s shooters, turned the “trap” he was preparing into the grave of his plans. These were to erase Hellenism from Peloponnese and central Greece, implementing a plan of genocide and uprooting, that would lead to the end of Greek history. Ibrahim’s fleet was destroyed, and more than 60 ships sank with most of their sailors chained in their places.

Thomas Whitcombe circle of, The Naval Battle of Navarino, October 20, 1827, SHP Collection.

After the naval battle of Navarino, Frank Abney Hastings had now regained full control of the Greek seas with “Karteria” and his squadron. In November 1827, Hastings resumed operations. The next target was Messolonghi, which was the key to control Western Greece.

The first move was to reach Vasiladi, a strategically important stronghold for Messolonghi, which Miaoulis had tried to capture without success. Hastings devised an intelligent plan to capture one after the other the forts that protected the islets of the Mesolonghi lagoon (Vasiladi, Dalmas and Aetoliko). It is noted that the waters are very shallow in the area and ships had to stay at least three kilometers away.

The siege lasted about a week due to bad weather. The first shots missed their target because of the long distance. Hastings equipped small boats that could move flexibly in the shallow waters of Messolonghi and used them to block Vasiladi and Aetoliko from Messolonghi, waiting for the right weather conditions to attack.

The attack began on December 27, 1827. “Kartheria” and “Elvetia” were bombing from the east, while the small boats were firing from the inside of the lagoon. The first shots were very successful. They hit the fort, destroyed the water tank, and opened a large crack in the wall. The fifth shot was fired by Hastings himself, who adjusted the cannon and succeeded with a well-aimed shot at the Turkish gunpowder depot. The blast destroyed most of the Turkish cannons and forced the Turks to surrender. The British Philhellene, Captain Hane, landed in Vasiladi, took control of the fort, and captured 39 Turks. Hastings treated the prisoners in an exemplary manner, he disembarked them elsewhere and allowed them to return to Messolonghi. A detachment of the Greek army was stationed at the occupied fort. The Turkish commander who was released sent a lamb and a sword to Hastings from Messolonghi as a gift.

This victory, which now brought the Greek forces close to liberate Messolonghi, took place on the day that Ioannis Kapodistrias crossed the Ionian Sea to assume the duties of the first Governor of the new Greek state.

After this success, Hastings had to confront a new payroll problem. The Navy owed to the crew of “Karteria” 3 salaries. Unable to continue and face his crew, Hastings and other officers submitted their resignation to Kapodistrias. The ship’s doctor, the Philhellene Heirich Treiber, was among them. He left and eventually moved to Athens, leaving “Karteria” without her doctor.

Governor Kapodistrias invited Hastings immediately to Poros, and managed to persuade him. In fact, he accepted all his suggestions for the reorganization and operation of the Greek Navy.

The main focus of Hastings’ proposals was to develop a national navy that would belong to the government, and not to hire ships from individual ship-owners. The new Governor had appreciated Hastings’ abilities and personality, and had decided to entrust him with the general coordination of the naval forces, according to the contents of a letter to him: “To Captain Hastings. The Government for which you are willing to be useful in its purposes assures you with pleasure that it assigns to you the management of maritime affairs. … you may use Mr. Georgios Economidis as personal secretary?”. This great man agreed to withdraw his resignation and continue his mission for the shake of Greece.

Hastings’ first move was the foundation of the first Greek naval base in Poros and the planning of the administrative operations. Shortly afterwards, he left to complete his mission.

After the fall of the fortress at Vasiladi, the next strategic step to occupy Messolonghi was Aetoliko. Hastings had to cooperate with the Regular Corps, which was commanded by General Church, with whom he did not maintain the best relations. Despite the disagreements, the sense of duty that both Philhellenes had, and their love for Greece, helped to put aside their differences and find a common acceptance solution.

Church describes their relationship as follows: “Hastings, who acquired the noblest virtues of spirit and heart, was unfortunately irritable and awkward, which often made it difficult to cooperate with him.” It should be noted that Hastings had suffered greatly during his participation in the war of independence, due to the inability of the Greek administration to coordinate the actions of the Greek forces, and to support him in his work with quick decisions. Church was aware of this situation, and he states: “It must be stated, in the honour of Hastings, that he continued to put himself in great difficulty and for a long time in the past by providing himself money for the crews and that he was fed up with the little attention that the provisional government was paying to him, to the point that being irritated by this fact, he showed his wrath in Vasiladi.”

Hastings returned to “Karteria” to continue his valuable work and to realize his great vision. To liberate Messolonghi, the place where Lord Byron left his last breath, and through this act to support the Greek forces to regain control of Western Greece, and to create accomplished facts that would facilitate Kapodistrias to negotiate the expansion of the Greek borders to the north.

Thus, in May 1828, he participated in a joint operation in Western Greece, with the terrestrial Greek forces, commanded by the British General Church. The Greek fleet blocked Aetoliko, the stronghold of Messolonghi.

Hastings had designed special explosive missiles to bomb Mesolonghi. He then bombarded Aetoliko for five hours without stopping, preparing the landing of the Greek forces. The shells caused fires throughout Aetoliko, which was burning, and destroyed the fortifications in many places and the Turkish garrison itself.

Unfortunately, while everything seemed to evolve according to the plan, the lack of strict discipline and coordination, the big problem that caused a lot of trouble to the Greek forces during the liberation war, did not allow the original plan to be implemented properly.

According to the plan, it was decided that all forces from land and sea would attack simultaneously, a specific time on May 25, 1828.

However, when it became clear that Aetoliko was falling, the units of the irregular forces who were associated to the terrestrial forces, did not obey the plan, and moved on their own to enter first the fort with the aim of looting. The Regular Corps of the terrestrial forces, commanded by General Eumorfopoulos and the Earl Briosio, considered that the attack was starting prematurely and they also moved out of the plan against the fort. This premature move also forced Hastings to start earlier and move with his men so as not to leave the terrestrial forces exposed to the Turkish fire.

Hastings’ sailors launched the final assault, without cover. This evolution concentrated much more enemy fire on them than what they expected.

This great and heroic figure of the Greek Revolution, Frank Abney Hastings, disembarked from his ship and led his own comrades-in-arms to the front line to assist the ground forces. He was constantly standing on his small amphibious boat, giving instructions and courage to his sailors. In fact, witnesses report that he was constantly shouting and repeating the word “Forward” loudly, and his sailors were excited and cheering him on.

This phase was another of the heroic moments of the Greek War of Independence. As soon as they reached the shore, a Turkish shell hit the landing boat. Three sailors were killed and twenty were injured. Frank Abney Hastings was seriously injured in his left arm and fell unconscious. At that moment, there was a great commotion. A bullet hit General Eumorfopoulos on the front and killed him instantly. Shortly afterwards, another heroic figure of the Greek revolution, the enthusiastic Philhellene Briozio, fell, while Lieutenants Gaiben, Stelvach and many other fighters were wounded.

Hastings was withdrawn from the battle and taken to “Karteria”. There, his sailors took care of his wound, as well as they could, because, as indicated above, the doctor of the ship had been transferred to Athens and is replacement had not arrived. This great man recovered slowly and asked to take action again as soon as possible, assuring his comrades-in-arms that “he had nothing serious.” In fact, he started working again, preparing a new plan to attack Aetoliko. On May 28, 1828, he prepared a detailed report to the Government, in which he described the events and the conduct of each officer, and even dealt with the last detail, such as the granting of a pension to the widow of Papapanos, the head of his artillery, who died in action. There he stated that he was preparing to attack Aetoliko again.

At this stage, no one suspected how serious the injury of the great British Philhellene was. Even Kapodistrias himself issued the following order from Poros on May 26, 1828 (old calendar): “The Governor of Greece to its leader of the naval forces of the Corinthian gulf. The Government, attaching its letter of gratitude, for those who excelled on May 11, hastens to offer to You in particular the gratitude of which, even at this last hour, you are worth exposing Your life in danger for the interests of Greece, which you support continuously since the beginning of the struggle. You bring the honourable samples of Your devotion to Greece to your Corps and recall in the memory of the people the glory which two years ago was poured into the places where you are already fighting. In Poros, May 26, 1828, the Governor “.

His comrades-in-arms informed the responsible chief doctor (Gosse), who, without knowing the details of the injury, also considered that it was not something to worry about. When he later saw the wound up close, he found that it was evolving into gangrene and asked for Hastings to be transported immediately to Zakynthos, where there were more means to cut off the injured hand. The wounded man now suffered unbearable pain and because he understood that his end was near, he wrote his will, and appointed the new Commander and vice-Commander of “Karteria”. During his transfer to Zakynthos, he left last breath on the ship that transported him, crossing the sea that he had loved and delivered now free to the Greeks.

He died on June 1, 1828, at the age of 34, plunging the Greek army and Greeks into grief and a deep mourning.

One of Frank Abney Hastings’ officers, Lt. Master Papa Mikes Doukas, from Psara, describes these historic moments in his memoirs: “And in the morning we went to the frigate and the English (in Zakynthos) told us that Hastings was in danger, that we did his will, that he appointed Commander of “Karteria” Iosif Falagkas and vice-Commander Ioannis Sotiriadis, and that he will upgrade the other sailors afterwards if he lives. We all stayed on the frigate and at midnight the guard came and warned us that he was dead. We mourned him from the bottom of our hearts because we lost a father and not an arrogant master. After the English corrected his body and placed him in a coffin, they handed to us his remains and we brought him to Poros, where the Naval Station is.”

The sad news of the loss of the great Philhellene shocked the whole of Greece. As soon as he was informed about that, Ioannis Kapodistrias sent the following letter to the Minister of the Navy, Mavrokordatos and the two close friends of Hastings, G. Finley and N. Kallergis:

“Master Hastings no longer exists. The deadly wound he received, while giving new samples of his devotion for Greece under the walls of Aetolikon, engulfed him on June 1”. After mentioning briefly the services offered by Hastings, he underlines the duty of the Greeks to the memory of the “brave defender of our independence who received for us that mortal injury, was a kind man, a brave soldier and sailor. So he deserves a war and therefore naval funeral par excellence” and he continues “as a gathering place for his soldiers of the blessed, Poros is selected, so that for the relics of the dead are there to show constantly to those who carry him as a brave comrade in their memory that he has not ceased to exist and that his legend is always there to support them. Finally, as a gymnasium for our young sailors, Poros demands to be the asylum in his shadow, so that his memory to be part of the imagination of the youth of Greece, guiding them as a spirit to acquire the virtues and knowledge which adorn this memorable person”.

General Church himself had acknowledged Frank Abney Hastings’ superiority. In fact, he stated in an official document, which is today in the British Museum, the following: “The death of Hastings was a great loss for Greece. He had made significant sacrifices in the service in which he eventually sacrificed his life. He was a coldblooded and fearless man of great practical and scientific education, always ready for operations and great courage. He was highly esteemed and had a reputation among the Greeks, and his military career was marked by many successes in favor of his adopted homeland and his own structure. After the loss of its noble master, the hitherto powerful “Karteria”, the terror of the enemy became a ship of ordinary class, it is true that it still bared the terrible guns, the ones invented by Hastings, firing under his command fire and death against the enemy in all directions, but he no longer existed, and by missing the hand which commanded and the soul which strengthened the achievements of “Karteria”, her subsequent services were insignificant as in the past they were great and glorious.”

The governor Kapodistrias demanded that the body of Hastings be embalmed and transferred to the Church of the Orphanage of Aegina. It was carried the following year with a multi-day ceremony to Poros, with his favourite ship, the “Karteria”, with Ioannis Kapodistrias himself being part of the crew. The ship was accompanied by an honorary squadron of Navy warships, in which many of its comrades were on board. Spyridon Trikoupis addressed the funeral speech. The details of the ceremony are reported below.

The funeral ceremony of Frank Abney Hastings

The general order of the funeral ceremony, which was attended by the Governor Kapodistrias himself, was assigned to the Minister of the Navy Mavrokordatos, G. Finley and N. Kallergis.

The new Commander of “Karteria”, Captain Falagkas, handed over the embalmed body of Frank Abney Hastings to Captain Fabricius, leader of the squadron, on June 6, 1829. The flags were flying everywhere at half-mast and the ships’ antennas were inclined. Only cannon shots could be heard.

The coffin arrived in Loutraki on June 13. Thousands of Greeks from Perachora and Corinth accompanied the deceased to Kalamaki. The deadly silence was interrupted only by cannon fire from the ships and the fortress of Acrocorinth.

In Kalamaki, the coffin boarded the ship “Athena” and sailed to Aegina. The Philhellene, comrade-in-arms and friend of Hastings, and historian G. Finley, describes the scenes with the following words: “Perhaps never-before warriors mourned a more sincere and deeply brave foreigner for his premature loss. When the numerous Greek sailors who served from time to time under his command learned of his death, they immediately raised money and they organized at the cathedral of Aegina a memorial service by the Greek clergy, together with a parade and presentation of arms, as possible during those times of turmoil”.

Then, all the members of the headquarters, the Interim Commander of Aegina and all the officers of the warships that had arrived in Aegina, placed the coffin of Frank Abney Hastings in the church of the Saviour in the Orphanage. The whole clergy, the political and military authorities, the Philhellenes, and the Governor had gathered there with a delegation from Panhellenion. A funeral prayer followed and the funeral procession began. The front of the procession was composed by a unit of 100 sailors wearing a black sign of mourning on their uniforms, 4 naval officers followed with their swords on their shoulders and then 8 officers carrying the coffin. They were accompanied by 4 masters holding the four ends of the coffin cover. Immediately after, the governor Ioannis Kapodistrias and the political and military authorities. All participants wore black mourning signs on their left arm.

The procession ended at the port and the coffin was placed in a small boat, covered with mourning cloth. The boat carried Hastings’ coffin to his favourite ship, “Karteria”, for his last voyage to Poros. When the coffin arrived in Karteria, all the ships lowered their flags and inclined their antennas. This was followed by 34 cannonades, as was the age of the great Philhellene.

Then all the ships started together, sailing at low speed with the magnificence that Frank Abney Hastings deserved. When they arrived at the Naval Station in Poros, they anchored. The officers carried the coffin, followed by Ioannis Kapodistrias. Cannon fired again to honour the great Philhellene.

At the Naval Station an Infantry battalion, delegations from the Navy, the Regular Corps, all the captains, the officers and the crew of “Karteria”, lined up to pay tribute to the brave Commander. They accompanied him with great emotion to his last home.

After chanting a short wish, Foreign Minister Spyridon Trikoupis delivered a farewell speech on behalf of the government and the Greek nation. The last worship of the dead followed and the attendees, starting from Ioannis Kapodistrias, threw a handful of soil on the grave of this great man. The Battalion of the Regular Corps and navy honours detachments, saluted with three gun shots.

The funeral ceremony ended again with 34 artillery shots, in memory of the work and contribution of the great Philhellene, hero and national benefactor, Frank Abney Hastings, who excited the souls of all Greeks.

The General Gazette, when referring to Frank Abney Hastings, used the term “the more than Greek”.

In his speech, Spyridon Trikoupis recalled that Frank Abney Hastings “… he died on May 20, leaving a memory of selfless Philhellenism, glorious struggles in favour of freedom and an integer character…”.

Lord Byron had described Hastings as “intelligent and scientific” who “unites great courage & coolness as well as enterprise”.

Speaking about Hastings and “Karteria”, Finley said: “What the Greek fleet could have become if Captain Hastings had lived, only those who knew him and saw what measures he took to recruit naval officers could have imagined.”

The other important Philhellene, General Thomas Gordon, also mentions in his biography: “If there was a truly selfless and useful Philhellene, that was Hastings. He never received any reward. He spent most of his fortune to keep “Karteria” combative and strong, the only ship of the Greek Navy that complied with the rules of naval discipline.”

The heart of the deceased Hastings was transported to Athens and buried in the Anglican Church of St. Paul.

In 1861, the state moved the bones of Frank Abney Hastings to the Poros Naval Station, where an obelisk monument was erected to honour his contribution to the Greek war for Independence.

Monument in memory of Frank Abney Hastings in Poros

Tombstone of Frank Hastings in the Anglican Church of St. Paul in Athens.

In 1928, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary from his death, the Minister of the Greek Navy, Panagiotis Merlopoulos, and the Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Greece, Sir Percy Loraine, placed commemorative plaques at the monument.

“ERECTED TO COMMEMORATE
THE CENTENARY OF THE DEATH
OF THE PHILHELLENE
FRANK ABNEY HASTINGS
WHO FOUGHT IN THE HELLENIC NAVY
FOR THE REBIRTH OF GREECE.
DONATED IN GRATITUDE BY
THE MINISTER OF THE GREEK NAVY
PANAGIOTOU MERLOPOULOU
JUNE 1928”

“IN GLORIOUS MEMORY OF
FRANK ABNEY HASTINGS
WHO GAVE HIS LIFE FOR
THE CAUSE OF GREECE
THIS SITE WAS VISITED IN REMEMBRANCE
ON THE CENTENARY OF HIS DEATH
BY SIR PERCY LORAIN AMBASSADOR TO GREECE
REPRASENTATIVE OF THE KING OF ENGLAND
AND REPRESENTATIVES OF THE BRITISH NAVY”

The Greek state continued to remember and honour this great Philhellene and national benefactor, Frank Abney Hastings, naming in his honour a warship in 1841 and a destroyer in 1939 of the Greek Navy.

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his death, a monument was erected in Messolonghi, in the garden of the Heroes. A bronze commemorative medal was issued and numerous other items were published in his honour.

Commemorative medal in the honour of Frank Abney Hastings, for the 100th anniversary of his death: “Greece is grateful 1828 – 1928” (SHP Collection).

Commemorative post card of 1928 for the 100th anniversary of the death of Frank Abney Hastings (SHP Collection).

The name of Frank Abney Hastings was given to a street in Piraeus. Moreover, a main street in the historic centre of Athens bears his name, to remind Greeks and foreigners who come to visit and worship the monuments of the classical civilisation, freedom and democracy, the Acropolis and Parthenon, that it is to great, noble and brave men like Frank Abney Hastings that our civilized humanity owes the privilege to live free and with dignity.

 

Note by SHP:

One of the descendants of the Abney Hastings family, Maurice Abney Hastings, wrote an important book that presents the work of the great Philhellene and his ancestor, Frank Abney Hastings. Maurice Abney Hastings, gathered material and organized a museum in the birthplace of the great Philhellene in England. This book was presented a few years ago in Greece at an event at the Historical Museum in Athens.

Maurice Abney Hastings died on October 9, 2016 at the age of 75.

SHP also honours the memory of another great Abney Hastings.

The book by Maurice Abney Hastings, on the great Greek Philhellene Frank Abney Hastings.

Maurice Abney Hastings presents personal objects of the great Philhellene Frank Abney Hastings and information about his activities in Greece.

Sources and bibliography

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  • Μεγάλη Στρατιωτική και Ναυτική Εγκυκλοπαίδεια, Τόμος 2ος, Αθήνα, 1930.
  • Ελευθεροτυπία, Περιοδικό Ιστορικά, «Φιλέλληνες», τεύχος 277, 17 Μαρτίου 2005.
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  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). “Hastings, Frank Abney”. Encyclopedia Britannica. 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 55.
  • Frank Abney Hastings, Memoir on the Use of Shells and hot shot from Ship artillery, Ridgeway, Londres, 1828.
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  • Christopher Montague Woodhouse, The Philhellenes, London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1969.
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