Derek George Montague Gardner (British, 1914-2007)
The opening salvoes of the action between H.M.S. Frolic and the U.S.S. Wasp on 18th October 1812 signed 'Derek G.M. Gardner' (lower right) oil on canvas 35.5 x 45.7cm (14 x 18in).
EXHIBITED: Polak Gallery, London, May 1972
One of the most celebrated incidents of the Anglo-American "War of 1812" was the capture of the British frigate Macedonian by the U.S.S. United States (Captain Stephen Decatur) on 25th October 1812. Exactly one week before however, on 18th October, a much less famous but nevertheless equally spirited action took place between two small brigs or, more correctly, sloops-of-War H.M.S. Frolic and the U.S.S. Wasp.
The Wasp, Captain Jacob Jones, was heading east into the Atlantic when, some 240 miles north of Bermuda and hardly out of sight of the American coast, she sighted a British merchant convoy under escort by H.M.S. Frolic. Since Wasp and Frolic were of comparable size and armament, Captain Jones decided to engage immediately and cleared Wasp's decks for action as the vessels converged. At first, Frolic seemed to have the upper hand but Wasp managed to hook her bowsprit into her opponent and swung bow-to. This enabled Wasp to pour in broadside after broadside whilst the English gunners were unable to aim at their target. After an extremely close action of only 43 minutes, Lieutenant James Biddle, USN, led a boarding party over from Wasp and took Frolic without further resistance.
The American victory proved short-lived however, when Wasp and her newly-taken prize were captured by the 74-gun H.M.S. Poictiers which came upon the scene unexpectedly and thereafter escorted both sloops into Bermuda.