Derek George Montague Gardner (British, 1914-2007)
H.M. Submarine H 31 going out on patrol, passing an armed trawler signed 'D.G.M. Gardner' (lower left) watercolour 26.6 x 37.7cm (10 1/2 x 14 3/4in). unframed
Provenance : believed to have been commissioned by the family of Lieutenant Alexander I. Merritt, second in command of submarine H31, and thence by descent.
H31 was one of a large class of submarines ordered during the Great War built by Vickers at Barrow-in-Furness. She was laid down on the 19th. April 1917 and was commissioned on the 21st. February 1919, by which time hostilities had ended. However, she showed her mettle in the Second World War in which, despite her age, her 4-18in. torpedo tubes offered useful firepower. In December 1941 news was received of a possible breakout from Brest, by the German battleships Scarnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen. In expectation of this, eight submarines were sent to the area, H31 sailing from Falmouth on the 19th. December. Although the breakout did not take place, H31 failed to return. She is believed to have been mined in the Bay of Biscay on the 24th. December. The submarine must have been even more cramped than usual as the normal complement was 22 and there were 33 crew listed as being lost on the vessel.