On This Day
1826 – The Greek frigate Hellas arrives in Nafplion to become the first flagship of the Hellenic Navy.
The Greek frigate Hellas (Greek: Ελλάς) was the flagship of the Revolutionary Hellenic Navy. After an arbitration hearing in New York due to financial default by the Greek government, she was delivered to Greece in 1826. She was burned in 1831 by the Greek Admiral Andreas Miaoulis when the government of Ioannis Kapodistrias ordered her turned over to the Russian navy.
Two ships ordered
In 1825, during the latter part of the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire, representatives of the Greek government in London negotiated with an American shipyard in New York City for the construction of two frigates to be named Hope and Liberator. Ultimately, the Greek government defaulted and one of the ships, (Liberator) was sold and the proceeds were used to pay for the other ship to be delivered to Greece.
The frigate Hellas
The Hope sailed from New York during the first days of October 1826, with the crew being mostly adventurers. An agent of the Greek government, K. A. Kontostavlos, was also on board.
The voyage was raucous as the crew attempted to murder both the Captain and the Greek government agent in a scheme to sell the vessel in Colombia. The crew failed in their mutiny, and the ship was delivered to Nafplion about 25 November 1826. The crew tried a second time to sell the vessel, this time to Ibrahim Pasha, who at the head of an Ottoman-Egyptian force had invaded the Peloponnese. This time, Admiral Andreas Miaoulis and a force of 30 local mariners secured the vessel and dispatched the raucous delivery crew.
After her arrival in Nafplion, three Admirals (Miaoulis from Hydra, Nikolis Apostolis from Psara and Androutsos from Spetses) took official delivery of the frigate and brought her to the island of Aegina, which had recently become capital of Greece.
The frigate, renamed Hellas, became the flagship of the Greek Navy, as she was the most powerful ship in the navy. Under the command of various captains (among them Cochrane, Antonios Miaoulis and Konstantinos Kanaris), the frigate took part in various successful, but insignificant, naval battles in both the Aegean and Ionian Seas.
Sinking of the flagship
On 27 July 1831, Admiral Miaoulis, who in the meantime had joined the English Party that was opposed to Governor Kapodistrias’ Russian Party seized on the island of Poros the navy then under the command of Kanaris. When the government in Nafplion asked Miaoulis to deliver the Greek fleet to the Russian Admiral Pyotr Ivanovich Ricord, Miaoulis refused to obey that order and threatened to scuttle the entire fleet under his command in the event of hostile movement by Ricord. When Ricord attacked Poros Island the 13 August, Miaoulis carried out his threats, burning the small fleet. In addition to Hellas, the other scuttled ships were the corvettes Hydra and Spetsai.
Born On This Day
1880 – Elsie J. Oxenham, English author (d. 1960)
Elsie Jeanette Dunkerley (25 November 1880 – 9 January 1960), was an English girls’ story writer, who took the name Oxenham as her pseudonym when her first book, Goblin Island, was published in 1907. Her Abbey Series of 38 titles are her best-known and best-loved books. In her lifetime she had 87 titles published and another two have since been published by her niece, who discovered the manuscripts in the early 1990s. She is considered a major figure among girls’ story writers of the first half of the twentieth century, being one of the ‘Big Three’ with Elinor Brent-Dyer and Dorita Fairlie Bruce. Angela Brazil is as well-known – perhaps more so – but did not write her books in series about the same group of characters or set in the same place or school, as did the Big Three.
Oxenham’s books are widely collected and there are several Appreciation Societies: in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa; with a total membership of over six hundred, some of whom live in the US, Canada, India and The Netherlands although belonging to one or more of the societies mentioned.
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