Terence Lee

Terence Lee biography...

Marine painting is a difficult genre, most people that attempt a career in it fail which makes those that do succeed extremely gifted. Add to that choosing to depict the Napoleonic era and all the historical reference and knowledge required and you’ve set your bar pretty high.

Terry has an encyclopaedic knowledge of these engagements and spends months in research, preparatory sketches and ensuring that what he depicts is correct on every level.

John Chancellor (1925-1984) was considered the finest marine of his era, Terry has most certainly risen to take his place. He is an extraordinarily gifted painter and a man of huge intellect who turns a painting in to a snap shot of history.

HMS Childers, Brest Harbour
Terence Lee HMS Childers, Brest Harbour
Oil on Canvas
Canvas size : 24" x 32"
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HMS Childers, Brest Harbour

On the 2nd January 1793 at 1430 hrs the British 16 gun brig H.M.S. Childers – Captain Robert Barlow under orders was standing in towards Brest harbour under light variable breezes to reconnoitre Brest the home of the French Atlantic fleet. Although war was not declared by France until a month later one of the Corounaille gun batteries guarding the entrance on the Cornounaille side fired a shot which passed over the Childers. This was immediately followed by a second shot fired from a battery above the first. Childers at this time was no more than three quarters of a mile distant. Captain Barlow ordered the colours to be hoisted believing that the nationality of his vessel was in doubt and tacked. The French responded by hoisting their colours, a red pennant over the national flag. This prompted additional firing from the battery situated on the opposite side of the entrance at Point le Minou. At this, Captain Barlow ordered out the sweeps and set all small sail and stood to the west as by now the flood tide for want of wind to counteract its force had driven the Childers closer to the batteries which continued their fire. Childers received one hit from 48 lb ball which struck one of her guns shattering into three parts. No damage to the vessel or injury to the crew was sustained. Fortunately for the Childers, a fresh breeze got up and by 1500 hrs she was out of gunshot.

At 2100 hrs with fresh breezes Captain Barlow shortened sail and spoke the cutter H.M.S Spider regarding the incident and at 2200 hrs made sail. On Friday 4th the first and middle watches experiened strong gales and squalls. At 2100hrs the Eddystone was raised. At 2200hrs with the weather not moderating Captain Barlow brought Childers too under trysails and storm staysails. At daylight they made sail and sighted Fowey 5 miles distant and at noon anchored off Fowey Harbour at single anchor (best bower)

Captain Barlow later presented the pieces of shell to the Admiralty as proof of French aggressive intent. As such it is often regarded as the first shot in the long naval war that, with one short break, lasted until 1815.

On the 21st January 1793 the French beheaded their King, Louis XVI and on the 24th the French ambassador, M. Chauvelin, as being now the representative of a regicide government, was ordered to quit England. On the 1st February France declared war on Britain and the United Netherlands.

The painting depicts H.M.S. Childers hoisting her colours and setting sail as the breeze freshens.

The Childers class brig of 1778 was a Williams design or builders designs to common dimensions. They were originally classed as brigs, but seem to have been reclassed as brig sloops shortly afterwards.

As a matter of interest, following the American War of Independence it was inevitable that the very successful frigate would grow in size and power of armament. This continued with the growth in size and complexity of the ship sloop creating a need for a somewhat smaller vessel which required a smaller crew. Brigs had been hired earlier, but the first ones ordered for the Navy were building in 1778. They could be seen as a reversion to the old two masted sloops and the majority of the new brigs were also classed as sloops (brig-sloops) though the smallest were usually just ‘brigs’. This could change with the change of commanding officers, the distinction between brig sloop and brig being simply whether he was a Commander or just a Lieutenant. It will be noted from the ships log of H.M.S. Childers at the time of the Brest incident that Robert Barlow signed the log as Commander.

H.M.S. Childers was built by Menetone & Son, Thames the keel being laid on the 3rd April 1778 and launched on 7th September 1778. She was broken up in 1811.

Crew: 80/90. Guns: 10 x 4 + 12 swivels. (later 14 x 4 = 12 swivels) The amount of guns carried could often found to vary. Contemporary sources state that Childers at the time of the Brest incident was classed as a 16 gun brig.

Terence Lee

November 2023

MTB's Weymouth
Terence Lee MTB's Weymouth
Oil on Canvas
Canvas size : 20" x 30"
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MTB's Weymouth

H.M.S. Bee the working up base at Weymouth was commissioned in early summer of 1942. For some time it had been realised that the true Coastal Forces technique of night fighting had now become highly specialised. With the increasing expansion in this branch of the Navy, it was clear that the facilities for training the crews must also be expanded. What was needed was for the whole crew to be trained together in their boat – a process known in the Navy as ‘working up’.

A ‘working up’ base for new boats soon after they were commissioned and sometimes for old boats after they had been undergoing a long refit had been envisaged some time before by Admiral Kekewich, the Rear-Admiral, Coastal Forces and an officer was appointed to his staff in order to start such a base. Thus it was that the ‘working-up’ base, subsequently named H.M.S Bee was established at Weymouth.

Cdr. R.F.B. Swinley, R.N. was appointed in charge of training. H.M.S. Bee occupied an hotel, a theatre on a pier and a row of boarding houses, as well as a number of sheds along the quayside. It was staffed partly by specialist officers in torpedoes, gunnery, signals, etc., and partly by Coastal Forces officers whose long period of active operations qualified them for a rest and who usually remained at the Bee for about three months before returning to sea.

For those in training, ‘working-up’ was a strenuous business. The day started with Morse flashing exercises and lectures followed by sea exercises during the afternoon and again at night often until four in the morning.

In the winter of 1943 when preparations for the invasion of France were being made all south coast ports were requisitioned , H.M.S Bee was moved to Holyhead in Anglesey.

The painting depicts two Vosper designed motor torpedo boats of Coastal Forces at H.M.S. Bee in 1943 preparing for sea to undertake sea exercises as part of their ‘working – up’ training. I have attempted to show Weymouth harbour as it would have looked in 1943. To the right of the painting can be seen the hotel used as part of the Coastal Forces training facilities. This building can still be identified today albeit with certain modifications as can other buildings in the picture.

The Vosper motor torpedo boats were constructed of wood, the hulls being of double – diagonal mahogany strengthened longitudinally by a girder framework. In the early war years these boats were engined with the three superb Italian Isotta Frascini 1150 h.p. units, however with Italy’s entry into the war these engines became unavailable and for a while the only alternative was the American Hall-Scott reducing the top speed to 26 knots! Soon, however, the 1250 h.p. Packard engines became the standard engine for the 47 ton vessels giving a maximum speed of 30 knots and a maximum range of some 400 miles on the 2725 gallons of fuel, some 16 hours steaming. In effect, the longest passage to a patrol position would not exceed some 140 miles or four and a half hours running at 25 knots. These craft had a complement of 13. Armament consisted of two 21 inch torpedo tubes, one twin .5 inch MG turret and two single .303 M.G.s and two depth charges. Armament varied considerably throughout the war, but by 1944 most remaining boats carried one twin Oerlikon aft and one single Oerlikon or one 2-pdr forward in lieu of the .5 inch turret.

MTB 224 was built by Mc Lean of Renfrew. The keel was laid on the 10th July l941 and she was launched on the 9th April 1942. Delivered on the 12th May l942 she became part of the 21st MTB Flotilla between l942 and 1944 operating out of Lowestoft, Felixstowe and Harwich. Her commander was Lt. Arthur ‘General’ Lee, D.S.C* - R.N.V.R. Following a very active war career MTB 224 came up for disposal in January l945 and became houseboat ‘Freedom’. In September l991 she was burnt in situ at Temple Boat Yard, Strood on the River Medway. A sad end for a gallant boat.

MTB 232 was built by the Berthon Boat Co. Lymington, Hampshire. Her keel was laid on the 15th April 1941 and launched on the 24th September l941. She was delivered on the 2nd April 1942 also becoming part of the 21st MTB Flotilla, her commanding officer at the time being Lt. Val Ohlenschager. MTB 232 was disposed of in December 1944

Terence Lee

November 2023

Acknowledgements to Peter Scott - Battle of the Narrow Seas for section on HMS Bee training scheme.

Dispatches for England
Terence Lee Dispatches for England
Oil on Canvas
Canvas size : 18" x 24"
£3750 Enquire Now
Dispatches for England

      On the 19th June 1805 Vice Admiral Lord Nelson arrived at Antigua in the West Indies in his pursuit of Admiral Villeneuve and the Franco-Spanish fleet only to discover that they had sailed for Europe.  Lord Nelson deployed the Curieux brig sloop under Lt. George Bettesworth with dispatches to warn the Lords of the Admiralty.  On the journey to England at latitude 33 12’ north longitude 58 west the Curieux sighted the combined fleet sailing north by west then north-north-west.  Curieux was a fast vessel which enabled Lt. Bettesworth to avoid action arriving at Plymouth on the 7th July. The dispatches enabled the Admiralty to make strategic deployments ahead of Admiral Villeneuve’s arrival which played an important part in determining the outcome of the Battle of Trafalgar.  

      The painting depicts the Curieux shortly after sighting the combined fleet.  Despite the weather showing signs of deteriorating Lt. Bettesworth is driving his ship hard under a full press of sail. close hauled on a starboard tack.

      Curieux was built by Enterprise Eth’eart at St Malo to a design by Francois-Timoth’ee Pestel.  She was laid down in October 1799 and launched on the 20th September 1800 the only one of her class at the time and the prototype for the curieux class of brigs which the French began building in 1803.

      Curieux was captured by the British at Martinique on the 3rd February 1804 and commissioned into the Royal Navy as a brig sloop armed with 8 x 6 pdr guns and 10 x 24 pdr carronades.  She carried a complement of 67 men.  During her five years with the Royal Navy she captured several privateers and engaged in two notable actions.  

      On the 8th February 1805 she chased the French privateer Dame Ernouf for twelve hours before bringing her to action.  After forty minutes of hard fighting she took Dame Ernouf which had a crew double that of Curieux.  The action cost the Curieux five killed and four wounded.  The Dame Ernouf had 30 killed and 41 wounded.

       In March 1806 John Sheriff took over command of Curieux and she was re-armed with 8 x 6 pdr guns and 10 x18 pdr carronades.  On the 3rd December1807 off Barbados she engaged the 25 gun privateer Revanche.  This vessel had been the slaver British Tar and was more heavily armed with a crew of 200 men.  Curieux’s shrouds and backstays were shot away and her two top masts and jib-boom damaged.  With her captain dead, Lt Thomas Muir wanted to board the Revanche but too few crewmen were willing to follow him.  Subsequently the two vessels broke off the action.  In addition to her captain, Curieux had seven dead and 14 wounded.  It was with some irony therefore that a subsequent court martial into why Lt. Muir had not taken or destroyed the enemy vessel mildly rebuked him for failing to hove-to in order to repair his vessel once it became obvious that Curieux was in no condition to overtake the Revanche.

       On the 22nd September 1809 at about 0330 hrs Curieux struck a rock of Petit-Terre off the Iles des Saintes.  The rock was 30 yards from the beach in 11feet of water.  She was de-stored and her guns removed to HMS Hazard which managed to winch her off a quarter cable but Curieux slipped back and struck a reef when she bilged.  The wreck was burnt to prevent it falling into enemy hands.  A subsequent court martial found the officer of the watch, Lt John Felton guilty of negligence and he was dismissed the service.  An interesting post-script to this incident occurred on the 30th August 1860 when the Prince of Wales visited Sherbrooke in Canada to where Felton had emigrated.  The Prince exercised his Royal prerogative and pardoned Felton restoring him to his former naval rank.

     An Admiralty draft of the Curieux was taken off at Plymouth in 1805.  Unfortunately the detail of the figurehead is missing and it has not been possible to determine what figurehead she carried.  I have therefore decide to show the vessel with a simple scroll.  Indeed by that period economies had been applied in the building of naval vessels particularly in respect of ship decoration and British built brigs rarely carried any figurehead or other elaborate decorations. The quarter galleries are false.


      The draft also shows the channels fixed at deck level.  This was a feature of French built brigs and is evidence that the bulwarks were lightly constructed.  The French appear to have placed emphasis on speed rather than sea-keeping qualities.  It is highly likely that following capture, the Curieux’s upper works required reconstruction in order to enable them to withstand the 24 and 32 pdr carronades fitted in British service.  The channels would have been raised as shown in the painting.  Indeed evidence of this fact is shown in Nicholas Pocock’s painting of the Curieux leaving Antiqua on her return to England in 1805.  He shows the channels raised above deck level.  Pocock was an experienced sailor having commanded ships.  His work can therefore be relied upon to accurately reflect the technical aspects of ships of the period.

      French built ships were not highly regarded by high ranking British naval officers due mainly to their light build and inadequate fastenings which did not stand up to the rigours imposed in British naval service.  They frequently required expensive and lengthy refits which necessitated them being taken out of service.  However French ship design enjoyed a popularity among junior naval officers primarily due I suspect to their fast sailing qualities.  Contemporary Admiralty drafts of the Curieux show a sharp mid–ship section which suggests she was capable of a good turn of speed.  This was demonstrated in practise during her fast passage from Antiqua to Plymouth in June/July 1805.

      A final interesting fact about the Curieux concerns a former crew member.  Lt Provo Wallis (1791 – 1892) later Admiral of the Fleet established a record for the length of naval service in the British Royal Navy.  Records show that his name was still carried on the active list when he died at the fine age of 100years!

Terence Lee

7th August 2017

Phoenix v Didon
Terence Lee Phoenix v Didon
Oil on Canvas
Canvas size : 70cm x 90cm
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Phoenix v Didon

The action between HMS Phoenix 18 pounder 36-gun frigate, Captain Thomas Baker and the French Le Didon 40 gun frigate, Captain Pierre-Bernard Milius took place on the 10th August 1805 off Cape Finisterre. At 5 a.m. Phoenix standing on the starboard tack with the wind at north-east by east sighted a sail in the south-west and immediately bore up in chase. The weather was hazy with a light wind and it was not until 7 a.m. that the stranger, then on the larboard tack with foresail and royals set and mizen topsail aback and main topsail shivering was made out to be an enemy frigate described as “with yellow sides and royal yards rigged aloft”. The ship was in fact the French Didon which since the evening of the 7th had stood leisurely to the west-south-west and was now only 32 leagues from a previous sighting by HMS Aeolus.

On the 5th August Captain Milius had left Corunna in search of the Rochefort squadron under Rear-Admiral Allemand for whom he had important despatches from Vice-Admiral Villeneuve to join him as he anticipated a his fleet was to meet the British fleet under the command of Vice Admiral Nelson. This fleet action was Trafalgar. Had Villeneuve’s dispatches reached Allemand, the outcome of Trafalgar may well have been different. Having such an important service entrusted to him, it is surprising that Captain Milius should have waited to engage an enemy frigate. However, this can perhaps be explained by the fact that on the previous day the Phoenix had fallen in with an American vessel from Bordeaux bound to the United States. The master came on board with his papers and was evidently not very sober. After selling some cases of claret he requested to be allowed to view the quarters of the Phoenix. No objection was made and he went round the ship seeing as much as he could see and departed on board his vessel. The following day he fell in with the Didon and in return for the hospitable treatment he had received on board Phoenix he told Captain Milius the ship whose topgallants were then just visible to windward was an English 20 gun ship and that her captain and his officers thought so much of their vessel that in all probability they would venture to engage the Didon. Captain Milius lay to in wait of the Phoenix. The Phoenix, a much smaller vessel than the Didon had been disguised to resemble at a distance a large sloop of war and the position in which she was viewed by the Didon prevented Captain Milius and his officers from discovering their mistake until they were committed to action.

At 8 a.m. Didon on the larboard tack hoisted her colours and fired a gun to windward and at 0845 opened a smart fire upon the Phoenix who, to frustrate any attempt of the Didon to escape, resolved to engage to leeward. To attain this object and to avoid their opponent’s line of fire already doing damage to her rigging and sails she steered a bow and quarter course and reserved her fire until she could use to the greatest effect. The Didon filled and wore and came to again on the opposite tack bringing a fresh broadside to bear upon the bows of the Phoenix. This manoeuvre was repeated three times to the increased annoyance of Captain Baker who eager to take an active part in the engagement but hopeless from the inferior sailing qualities of the Phoenix being unable to pass ahead or astern of the Didon ran right at her to windward. This bold move succeeded and at 9.15 the two frigates both standing on the larboard tack brought their broadsides to bear at pistol shot distance, each pouring a heavy fire of round, grape and musketry into the other. Owing to the press of sail under which the Phoenix had approached and the nearly motionless state in which the Didon lay the former ranged a considerable distance ahead whereupon the Didon filled and hauled up standing on and discharging some distant and ineffectual shot towards the Phoenix as she diagonally crossed the latter’s stern. The Didon again bore up and passing athwart the stern of Phoenix raked her but owing to the precaution taken by the British crew in lying down no serious injury was caused. The Didon then hauled up again on the larboard tack and endeavoured to discharge her starboard broadside in a similar manner but the Phoenix had repaired some damage to her rigging sufficiently to enable her crew to throw her sails aback and preventing the Didon from again taking an advantageous position.

This is the moment depicted in the painting. It shows the Didon close hauled on the starboard tack with the intention of again crossing the stern of the Phoenix. However by backing her main topsail and t’gallant Captain Baker effectively reduced the way on his ship giving Didon little sea-room in which to avoid its bow colliding with the starboard quarter of the Phoenix. Both crews prepared to board the other but with the superior numbers on the Didon the crew of the Phoenix was forced to defend their own decks. Having repulsed the French boarders the Phoenix hastened to take advantage of bringing a maindeck gun to bear. Captain Baker had contrary to rules caused the timber on the sill of the cabin-window on each side next the quarter to be cut down so as to serve for a port in case a gun would not bear from the regular stern-port next to the rudder head. Unfortunately the gunner had neglected to prepare tackles sufficiently long for transporting the aftermost maindeck gun to the new port. This proved a serious omission as throughout the time it took for new tackles to be made up the marines on board the Didon stationed along the whole length of the larboard gangway kept up an incessant fire into the Phoenix’s stern windows killing and wounding many crew. At length the exertions of Captain Baker and his crew managed to run out the gun and on its first firing laid low 24 of the Didon’s crew. A fierce fire fight ensued both below and on the upper deck and after about half and hour the Didon began to fore-reach. At this moment the Phoenix brought her second aftermost gun to bear cutting away the headrails and gammoning of the Didon’s bowsprit. A mutual cannonade commenced between the two frigates yard-arm to yard-arm to the advantage of the Phoenix whose lighter guns and the fact that her disciplined highly trained gunners fired half as quick again as the Didon. Consequently the shattered hull and disabled state of the Didon with her main topmast gone and foremast tottering, passed out of gun-shot ahead. Although not materially injured in hull or lower masts, the Phoenix was so damaged in rigging and sails as to be nearly unmanageable her main royal mast, maintopsail yard and her gaff were shot away. The gaff had falled just as the two ships got foul and the fly of the British white ensign at the gaff end having dropped upon the Didon’s forecastle was torn off and carried away by the Frenchmen as a trophy. As a substitute the Phoenix’s crew lashed a boat’s ensign to the larboard and a union jack to the starboard cross-jack yard arm. During the lull in fighting each crew began repairing the rigging prior to renewing the engagement. However, due to the well disciplined crew under Captain Baker they managed to repair the rigging sufficient to regain control and approach the Didon. On seeing that they would be unprepared to carry on the fight, Captain Milius ordered his colours to be struck. It was 15 minutes past noon.

Of her 260 men and boys, the Phoenix had her second lieutenant, one master’s mate and 10 seamen killed with 13 seamen and 12 marines wounded. The loss on Didon amounted to 27 officers seamen and marines killed and 44 wounded out of a crew of 330.

During the course of the action midshipman Edward Phillips saved the life of Captain Baker. Whilst the two ships were foul of one another a French seaman on the Didon’s bowsprit end was taking a deliberate aim at Captain Baker when young Phillips armed with a musket and standing close to his captain unceremoniously thrust him on one side and fired killing the Frenchman. The ball from the Frenchman’s musket tore off the rim of Captain Baker’s hat. A very close call!

The Phoenix took possession of the Didon and set course for Gibralter. However at 4 p.m. the following day they spoke the 74 gun Dragon who notified them of the presence of the Franco-Spanish fleet and agreed to escort the two frigates. They managed to avoid contact with the French and despite the discovery of a plot by some of the French crew to retake their ship they altered course and made for Plymouth where they arrived on 3 September.

The Didon was built in the year 1797 at St Malo and in the spring of 1805 underwent a thorough repair. She had outstanding sailing qualities but was not taken into British service being laid up in ordinary in the Hamoaze until being broken up in 1811.

The Phoenix was a Perseverence class frigate designed by Hunt and built by Parsons at Bursledon near Southampton. Launched on the 18th July 1783 as a 36gun frigate she was wrecked near Smyrna on the 20th February 1816.

Terence Lee

May 2022

Building the Wooden Walls
Terence Lee Building the Wooden Walls
Oil on Canvas
Canvas size : 24” x 32”
Framed size : 29” x 37”
£5950 Enquire Now
Building Wooden Walls

In September 1743 shipbuilders Wyatt & Co of Bursledon, Southampton commenced operations at the shipyard situated at Buckler’s Hard on the banks of the River Beaulieu, in the New Forest, Hampshire and offered for lease by John Duke of Montague.

The first ship constructed was the Suprise, a 24 gun frigate ordered by the Admiralty and launched in 1745. This was followed by the Scorpion (18) in 1746 and the Woolwich (50) in 1749. All the construction was overseen on behalf of the Admiralty by the 30 year old master shipbuilder Henry Adams. He was a gifted shipdesigner and builder who unlike many of his contemporaries could work directly from ship design plans having acquired a proficiency in basic mathematics and geometry. He had a built up a reputation as being honest and meticulous in the manner in which he conducted his buisness. He also had the ability to assess whether a ship was ‘balanced’ which could avoid costly alterations later in construction.

In 1788 Wyatt & Co faced financial difficulties and the lease was taken over by Adams. He continued to design and build ships both at Deptford and at Buckler’s Hard for the next sixty two years. By the time of his death in 1805 the yard at Buckler’s Hard had been transformed. 27 naval vessels had been launched from its slipways among which was the Agamemnon, Euryalus and Swiftsure all of which went on to have distinguished careers with the Royal Navy each being present at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. On his retirement Henry Adams would observe the construction of ships through his telescope at Buckler’s Hard from the window of the round room built on the end of the Master Builder’s house overlooking the slipways. Each shipwright had a number and if Adams saw any work being carried out which did not meet with his approval he would hoist a numbered flag identifying the unfortunate shipwright who would be summoned by bell to climb a rope ladder hanging outside Adams window to be told the error of his ways!

HMS Brilliant carried 200 officers and men. Her armament consisted of the following:

Upper deck:- 2 x 9 pounders

Quarter deck:- 4 x 6 pounders 4 x 18 pounder carronades

Foc’stle:- 2 x 18 pounders 12 swivel guns

HMS Agamemnon 64 gun ship of the line was ordered on the 8th April 1777 laid down in May 1777 and launched on the 10th April 1781. She was designed by Thomas Slade to the lines of the Ardent class and cost £38, 303 15s. 4d. Her armament consisted of the following:-

Gun Deck:- 26 x 24 pounders

Upper Deck:- 26 x 18 pounders

Qtr Deck:- 10 x 9 pounders

Fo’csle :- 2 x 9 pounders.

HMS Agamemnon carried a compliment of 500 officers and men. To the men she was affectionately known as the ‘eggs and bacon’ in deference to the fashion at that time of naming batches of ships after Greek gods. She was believed to have been Lord Nelson’s favourite ship. He commanded her as a Captain from Jan 1793 for 3years and 3 months.She had a distinguished naval career including the following battle honours:-

Battle of Ushant 1781

Battle of the Saintes 1782

Battle of Genoa 1795

Battle of Hydras Islands 1795

Battle of Cape Finisterre 1805

Battle of Trafalgar 1805

Battle of San Domingo 1806

Battle of Copenhagen 1807

Despite Nelson’s fondness for the ship, she was frequently in need of repair and refitting due to her active war career and would likely have been hulked or broken up in 1802 were it not for the recommencement of the French war. Having fought at Trafalgar as part of the weather column and forced the surrender of the Spanish four decker Santisima Trinidada her later career was spent on the South American station where in June 1809 whilst seeking shelter from a gale with the rest of her Squadron she grounded on an unchartered shoal in the Bay of Maldonado, Uruquay. She was subsequently lost but the majority of her stores and her entire compliment were saved. Her poor condition undoubtedly played a major factor in the lost of this iconic ship.

In 1993 the wreck of the Agamemnon was located and several artefacts including cannon were recovered.

The painting depicts Buckler’s Hard as I imagine it would have looked in July 1779. HMS Brilliant is being prepared for launching, the launching cradles have been brought up from Portsmouth Dockyard and can be seen in place at the stern and bow. The Agamemnon is in frame alongside. Men can be seen alongside operating the capstans to haul heavy timbers up onto the vessel by the primitive cranes. Detail of the frames and general construction method can be seen. Some planking has been fitted. I have tried to give some impression of the immense size of these vessels by including men working on the scaffolding alongside the hull. Various timbers including compass timber sourced from the New Forest is seen stacked on the quays and between the rows of workers cottages. The Master Shipwrights house occupied by Henry Adams can be seen on the far right of the painting with the round room from which Adams observed the slipways. On the quayside two naval officers have arrived from Portsmouth in the long boat moored alongside the quay. They are Captain John Ford and his first lieutenant and have probably come to look over their new command. Henry Adams can be seen on the quay beneath the bow of the frigate in discussion with one of his shipwrights. Alongside the hedge a man is painting the three temporary masts used to hoist flags during the launching ceremony. In the river beyond the yard can be seen a Cowes ketch tacking back down river to the Solent having discharged her cargo at the yard.

The cottages, Master Shipwright’s house and remains of the slipways are maintained as a part of the Buckler’s Hard museum and a visit is highly recommended.

Terence Lee

November 2020

Strachan’s Action
Terence Lee Strachan’s Action
Oil on Canvas
Canvas size : 24” x 32”
Framed size : 29” x 37”
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Strachan’s Action
Battle of Cape Ortegal 4th November 1805

The Battle of Cape Ortegal was the final action of the Trafalgar Campaign and was fought between a squadron of the British navy and a remnant of the combined fleet that had been defeated earlier at the Battle of Trafalgar. It took place off Cape Ortegal in north-west Spain.

Four French ships of the line stationed in the van of the line of the combined fleet escaped the Battle of Trafalgar. They were under the command of Rear-Admiral Pierre Dumanoir le Pelley and consisted of his flag ship Formidable – 80 guns, and three 74 gun ships, Mont Blanc, Scipion and Duguay-Trouin. Pelley’s initial intention was to carry out Villeneuve’s original orders and make for Toulon but the day after the battle he changed his mind, intelligence suggesting that a substantial British squadron under Rear-Admiral Thomas Louis was patrolling the straits. With this in mind, together with deteriorating weather conditions off the Spanish coast he decided to sail westwards to clear Cape St Vincent prior to heading north-west and then eastwards across the Bay of Biscay his intended destination being the port of Rochefort. His squadron represented a still considerable force having suffered only slight damage at Trafalgar although Formidable had suffered damage to her hull and was making water which would ultimately effect her sailing qualities and would be a factor which would compromise the efficiency of the squadron in the coming action. Dumanoir doubled Cape St Vincent on 29th October and made for Ile-d’Aix entering the Bay of Biscay on 2nd November.

There were a number of British ships and squadrons already in the bay. Zacharie Allemand, commander of the Rochefort squadron had sailed from the port in July 1805 and was currently cruising in the Atlantic raiding British commerce. One of the British ships sent out on patrol was the 36 gun HMS Phoenix – Captain Thomas Baker. He had orders to patrol west of the Scilly Isles but in late October he received intelligence that Allemand’s squadron had been sighted in the Bay of Biscay. Baker immediately left his station and sailed south reaching the latitude of Cape Finisterre on 2 November just as Dumanoir was entering the bay. Baker sighted four ships steering north-north-west at 11.00 hrs and gave chase. The ships which Baker presumed to be part of the Rochefort squadron but were actually Dumanoir’s ships bore up at noon and began to chase Phoenix which hauled to the south hoping to lure the French into the path of the squadron under Captain Strachan that he knew to be in the area.

Baker kept ahead of the pursuing French and at 1500hrs sighted four sails heading south. Dumanoir’s forces also saw them and stood to the east. Baker having ascertained the strength and disposition of the French force continued south towards the four sail. By 2300 hrs Baker finally reached the ships and passing under the stern of Caesar recieved confirmation that the ships were indeed Strachan’s squadron. Baker informed Strachan that he had sighted a part of the Rochefort squadron to leeward and Strachan immediately determined to seek and engagement. His squadron however was widely scattered so ordered Baker to round up the remaining ships and hasten them to his support. He then set sail to intercept the French squadron.

Strachan’s squadron consisted of his own ship, Caesar – 80 guns, and the 74 gun ships Hero – Captain Alan Gardner, Couregeux – Captain Richard Lee, Namur – Captain Lawrence Halsted, and the frigates Santa Margarita – 38 guns – Captain Wilson Rathbone, Aeolus -32 guns – Captain Lord William Fitzroy, Phoenix – 36 guns – Captain Thomas Baker and Revolutionnaire – 38 guns – Captain Henry Hotham.

The Caesar, Hero, Courageux and Aeolus continued the chase to the north west until losing the French in hazy weather at 0130 hrs. Strachan decided to shorten sail to allow the remainder of his ships to catch up. At 0730hrs on the 3rd, Cape Ortegal was sighted, 36 miles to the southeast. The French squadron was again sighted at 0900 hrs The chase continued throughout the day and into the night by which time the faster Santa Margarita and Phoenix were well ahead of the main British force.

The preliminary stages of the battle began at 0545hrs on the 4th November when the Santa Margarita closed on the stern of the rear-most French ship, Scipion and opened fire being joined by the Phoenix at 0930 hrs. At this stage the French were sailing roughly in line abreast with the British frigates staying on the Scipion’s quarter to avoid her broadsides. The Caesar, Hero, Courageux and Aeolus were about six miles astern while Namur and Revolutionnaire were further away. At 1145hrs with action unavoidable, Dumanoir formed his ships in line ahead on the starboard tack as Strachan formed his ships likewise approaching from windward on the French ships starboard side. By noon all four British frigates were in action harassing Scipion on her larboard side whilst the British ships of the line were attacking the French squadron from starboard. Dumanoir had ordered his ships to tack in succession at 1130 hrs to bring his leading ship, Duguay-Trouin into the action to support his centre. The Duguay-Trouin made no move to obey the signal until 1215 hrs when the French line began to turn towards the British ships of the line and to pass down alongside them. The two lines passed alongside each other with Dumanoir finding that Strachan had doubled his line with frigates on one side and ships of the line on the other. His ships suffered heavy damage as the two lines passed on opposite tacks with Dumanoir aiming to isolate Namur before she could join the British line.

The damage to Damanoir’s ships rendered them slow and unmanoeuvrable. Strachan was able to order his squadron to tack to enable them to maintain theie position alongside the French. By 1510 hrs the French ships were worn down with Scipion and Formidable striking their colours. Seeing this, Mont Blanc and Duguay-Trouin attempted to escape but were overhauled by Hero and Caesar and reduced to unmanagable hulks lowering their colours at 1535 hrs.

Strachan’s triumph completed the rout of the French that Nelson had begun at Trafalgar. With the four ships taken at Cape Ortegal only five ships of the combined fleet of 18 ships of the line remained and they were trapped in Cadiz.

All four prizes taken at Cape Ortegal were brought safely into Plymouth. They were subsequently commissioned into the British navy. Formidable became HMS Brave, The Duguay-Trouin renamed HMS Implacable. The other two retained their original names but never went to sea.

The Duguay-Trouin as HMS Implacable saw action in the Baltic in 1808 and 1809. She served off the Syrian coast in 1839 and took part in the blockade of Alexandria. In 1842 she was withdrawn from active service becoming a training ship for boys at Devonport as the Lion. Her final years were spent also as a training vessel alongside the Foudroyant (formerly the Trincomalee, now restored at Hartlepool} in Portsmouth Harbour. Regrettably at 1345 hrs on the 2nd December l949 due to her advanced state of deterioration she was taken out into the English Channel and ceremonially scuttled with the French tricolour and British naval ensign flying at her transom. Ironically parts of her were washed up on the French coast at Dunkirk – symbolically she had returned home. She was one of only two surviving vessels which fought at Trafalgar, the other being HMS Victory and the only surviving 74 gun ship of the line.

The painting depicts the situation at 1535 hrs. The Duguay-Trouin on seeing the Courageux bearing up from astern to offer supporting fire has decided that it would be pointless to continue and has struck her colours. The Hero on her larboard side has fired her final salvo. She has lost her fore top yard. The damage sustained by the Duguay-Trouin is extensive having lost her mizzen and main masts. Her fore mast will go over the side later. To the left can be seen the Caesar lowering a boat to ferry a prize crew over to the damaged Mont Blanc . In the centre distance the Formidable is lying dismasted with the Namur moving to secure her.

Terence Lee

23rd March 2020

Ruse de Guerre
Terence Lee Ruse de Guerre
Oil on Canvas
Canvas size : 24” x 32”
Framed size : 29” x 37”
SOLD Enquire Now
Ruse de Guerre

During the Napoleonic Wars the British economy depended on its ability to trade with the British Empire, particularly the valuable colonies in British India. The intercontinental trade was conducted by the governors of India, the Honourable East India Company using their fleet of large well-armed merchant vessels known as East Indiamen. These ships were of between 500 and 1200 nominal tons burthen and could carry up to 36 guns for defence against pirates, privateers and small warships. They were not however capable under normal circumstances of fighting off an enemy frigate or ship of the line. Their guns were usually of inferior design and their crew smaller and less well trained than those on a naval ship. The East Indiamen sought to ensure the safety of their cargo and passengers not defeat enemy warships in battle. Despite these disadvantages the size of East Indiamen meant that from a distance they appeared quite similar to a small ship of the line, a deception usually augmented by paintwork and dummy cannon.

The East Indiamen would gather at ports in India and the Far East and from there set out for Britain in large convoys often carrying millions of pounds worth of trade goods. The journey would usually take six months ‘Country’ ships, smaller merchant vessels chartered for local trade sometimes independently from the HEIC would often join the convoys. To protect their ships from the depredations of pirates the HEIC also operated its own private navy of small armed vessels. They were not however a match for professional warships.

Understanding the importance of the Indian Ocean trade and seeking to threaten it Napoleon ordered a squadron to sail for India in March 1803. This force was under the command of Comtre-Admiral Charles-Alexandre Durand Linois and consisted of the 74 gun Marengo, Belle Poule 40 guns, Semillante 36 guns, Berceau 20 guns, Aventurier 16 guns and the Brig William 18 guns. Linois operated from the island base of Lle de France with orders to attack British shipping once war had begun. The Napoleonic War commenced on the 16th May and on the 28th December Linois’s squadron departed Batavia with six months provisions. He intended to extend his patrol to the approaches of the Strait of Malacca in the South China Sea.

On the 31st January 1804 the China Fleet an annual British merchant convoy sailed from Canton in the Pearl River for Britain via India. Its commander, Commodore Nathaniel Dance was an officer with over 45 years service at sea in the East Indiamen. His ship was the Earl Camden. The Royal Navy was unable to provide escort as news of the outbreak of war had reached Canton before reinforcements had arrived from the squadron in India. Spies based in Canton had passed the composition and date of departure of the China Fleet to Linois in Batavia, but the Dutch informants at Canton had also passed on false reports that Royal Navy warships were accompanying the convoy, reports that may have been deliberately placed by British authorities. The convoy was an immensely valuable prize, its cargo of tea, silk and procelain valued at over £8 million ( £700 million in todays estimates) Also on board were 80 Chinese plants ordered by Sir Joseph Banks for the royal gardens and carried in a specially designed plant room. In view of the circumstances Commodore Dance ordered selected vessels in the convoy to paint their sides to resemble naval vessels.

At 0800 on 14th February with the island of Pulo Aura within sight to the south-west near the eastern entrance to the Straits of Malacca, the Indiaman Royal George raised a signal describing three sail approaching the convoy from the direction of the island. This was Linois’s squadron which had been cruising in the area for the previous month in anticipation of the convoy’s arrival. Dance ordered the brig Ganges and the Indiamen Alfred, Royal George and Hope to approach the strange vessels and investigate. They reported to Dance that the strange sail were enemy warships. By 1300 Dance had readied his guns and reformed his convoy with the large Indiamen formed up in line of battle to receive the French attack. During the afternoon Linois’s squadron fell in behind the convoy being cautious and merely observing preferring to wait until the following morning before engaging. Dance ordered the Ganges to shepherd the convoy on the leeward side of the larger Indiamen.

At dawn on the 15th both the French and British raised their colours. Dance hoped to persuade Linois that his ships included some fully armed warships and he therefore ordered the brig Ganges and the four lead ships to hoist blue ensigns while the rest of the convoy raised red ensigns. This implied that the ships flying blue ensigns were attached to the squadrons of Admiral Rainier. Dance was unknowingly assisted by the information that had reached Linois at Batavia which claimed that there were 23 merchant ships and the brig in the convoy. Dance had collected six additional ships during his journey and the identity of these were unknown to the French who assumed that at least some of the unidentified vessels must be warships particularly as several vessels had been recently painted at Canton to resemble ships of the line.

At 0900 Linois was still reluctant to attack. Dance responded by reforming the line of battle into sailing formation to increase the speed of the convoy with the intention of reaching the Straits before Linois. With the convoy a less intimidating target, Linois began to approach the British ships and by 1300 it was clear to Dance that Linois’s faster ships were in danger of isolating the rear ships of the convoy. Dance signalled his lead ships to tack and come about together which they did successfully bearing down towards the French. At 1315 Linois opened fire on the lead ship – Royal George under the command of John Fam Timmins. The Royal George and the next four ships in the line – Ganges, Dance’s Earl Camben, Warley and the Alfred returned fire as each came in range with the French vessels. Captain James Prendergrass in Hope, the next in line was so eager to join the battle that he misjudged his speed and collided with the Warley both ships falling back to disengage themselves. Shots were exchanged at long range for the next 43 minutes. The Royal George which had been the first to engage the French had received some damage to the hull and rigging and had one crew member killed. The remaining British ships reported only superficial damage. The French reported no damage or injuries.

At 1400 Linois ordered his squadron to withdraw and hauled away to the east. Determined to maintain the pretence of the presence of warships, Dance ordered general chase and pursued the French squadron for two hours after which he ordered a return to the convoy. By 2000 the convoy was anchored safely at the entrance to the Straits of Malacca. On the 28th February H.M.S. Sceptre and M.SC. Albion joined them in the Strait and escorted them to Saint Helena in the South Atlantic from where M.SC. Plangent escorted them safely to England.

Commodore Dance was knighted and received a generous financial reward from HEIC and the Bombay Insurance Company He was able to take comfortable retirement and died in 1827. Various commanders and their crew received a share of £50,000. The loss of this valuable convoy would have had profound effects across the British Empire and would have most likely caused the financial ruin of both the HEIC and Lloyds of London.

Commodore Dance conducted a masterly act of bluff requiring great courage and determination against an enemy of immeasurably greater force. It is quite astounding that a Vice Admiral commanding a powerful squadron should have withdrawn from what would have been obvious on closer examination were a number of merchant vessels masquerading as warships.

The painting depicts the situation at 1315 as the first shots are exchanged between the Royal George and the Marengo. Behind the Royal George can be seen the gun brig Ganges followed by Commodore Dance’s Earl Camden, the Warley and Alfred. The convoy can be seen to the lee of these vessels making towards the Strait.

Terence Lee

23rd July 2019

The Seafire
Terence Lee The Seafire
Oil on Canvas
Canvas size : 27.5” x 19.75”
£3250 Enquire Now
The Seafire
The painting depicts Supermarine Seafire NX942 of 736 Squadron, School of Air Combat operating out of RNAS Yeovilton high over the south coast of England in May 1943.

NX942 was ordered from Supermarine Vickers Aviation, Castle Bromwich on the 23rd August l941 under contract B19713/39 for 904 aircraft. It was built in April l942 as Spitfire MkVc serial No. EN763 and delivered to 33 Maintenance Unit on the 25th April l942. On the 10th May it was taken on charge of 421 Squadron RAF but on the 5th May 1943 it was converted to Seafire 1B configuration by Air Service Training at Hamble in Hampshire and delivered to the Fleet Air Arm 736 Squadron School of Air Combat at RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset. The role of this squadron was to teach experienced naval fighter leaders the latest techniques in air combat. Following a period at RNAS St Merryn, Cornwall NX942 was returned to the RAF in December 1944.

The Spitfire MkV was fitted with the Rolls-Royce Merlin 45 engine driving a three blade variable speed propeller. It could reach 331 mph at 16,000 ft. and 359 mph at 25,000 ft its operational ceiling being 32,800 ft. Its range was 395 miles. The aircraft was armed with 4 x 20 mm cannon although this configuration could vary.

The MkV was produced in large numbers in four major versions the most successful was considered to be the F Mk V variant. Many airframes were used as trials and experimental aircraft or converted to other marks. The Mk V would not have been developed had it not been for the Luftwaffe’s change of tactics towards the end of 1940. The German mass attacks began to dwindle by the end of October largely due to the valiant efforts of Fighter Command’s front line squadrons. In November 1940 small numbers of the new German Me 109e fighter began to appear over the south coast of England. These machines could fly higher and faster than their predecessors. The Spitfire Mk 1 and Mk11 lost any advantages which they formerly had over the earlier Me109 fighter. As the result urgent work was undertaken in developing the Spitfire’s performance. This resulted in the MkV variants.

Due to the urgent demand for a variant which could successfully challenge the new German fighter the MkV was put into production without delay and issued to operational squadrons. The inevitable teething troubles soon became evident and were corrected by appropriate modifications. However one particularly disturbing problem arose with the MkVb resulting in several fatalities when aircraft were reported to have unaccountably dived into the ground. Subsequent investigations found the cause was due to two probabilities. 1. When the cannons were fired the oxygen regulating apparatus was dislocated or damaged so that the supply of oxygen to the pilot could not be varied. 2. The longer the oxygen supply pipe was the greater chance that condensation freezing in the pipe would restrict the oxygen flow causing the pilot to black out. The rectification of this particularly nasty fault undoubtedly saved many lives.

Terence Lee
1st February 2019
Spitfires over the south coast
Terence Lee Spitfires over the south coast
Oil on Canvas
Canvas size : 20” x 30”
£3950 Enquire Now
Spitfires over the south coast of England
The painting shows Spitfire IIAs of 118 Squadron on a fine afternoon over Beaulieu on the 18th April 1941 immediately prior to landing at their new airfield at Ibsley a few miles north of Ringwood in Hampshire. RAF Ibsley was completed in February l941 as a satellite station to Middle Wallop.

118 Squadron was initially engaged on convoy and anti-shipping patrols over the Channel and in November 1941 together with 234 (Madras Presidency) Squadron formed a wing carrying out escort duties. With the arrival of 66 Squadron, and the inevitable increase in the operational workload, Ibsley quickly assumed the role of a front line airfield.

Spitfire P7913 was a MkIIA presentation aircraft bearing the name of the donor ‘City of Birmingham’ on the side of the engine cowling. Built by Vickers Armstrong at Castle Bromwich in February l941 it was fitted with a Merlin XII engine driving a Rotol three blade propeller. The aircraft was capable of speeds of 370 mph at 13000 feet and 290 mph at sea level. It carried 85 gallons of 100% octane petrol which gave it a range of 70 – 80 miles into France from the south coast of England. Armament consisted of 8 wing mounted Browning 303 machine guns. P7913 was delivered to No.9 Maintenance Unit on the 3rd February 1941 and then to 66 Squadron on the 4th March. 118 Squadron received the aeroplane on the 9th April. On the 25th February 1943 it was transferred to the Central Gunnery School. Its operational service here however was short lived when as the result of an engine fire it was abandoned in mid-air and crashed at Middle Drove in Norfolk on the 8th June 1943. The airframe was signed off charge on the 30th June with a total flying hours of 413.50.

Spitfire P8088 also a MkIIA presentation aircraft bearing the inscription ‘Borough of Lambeth’ beneath which was a figure of ‘Capt. Reilly-Ffoul’ of the Daily Mirror fame. Also a Castle Bromwich airframe its specification was identical to that of P7913 having been part of the same building contract. Completed in February 1941 it was delivered to No 39 Maintenance Unit on the 1st March and then to 66 Squadron on the 21st March. On the 9th April it transferred to 118 Squadron where it remained until the 9th July joining 152 Squadron. On the 23rd June l942 it served with 19 Squadron and then to 61 Operational Training Unit on the 21st September. On the 19th May l943 it suffered Cat. B damage and following repair it passed to the Central Gunnery School on the 1st August. On the 22nd February l944 it received attention at the Miles Aircraft Company being handed over to an Operational Training Unit on the 1st July. On the 23rd September P8088 was destroyed when it dived into the ground at Prees, Salop. No details of the incident are available.
It was signed off charge on that date. Terence Lee
1st February 2019
The Final Farewell
Terence Lee The Final Farewell
Oil on Canvas
Canvas size : 18" x 24"
Cochrane’s Coastal Raids
Terence Lee Cochrane’s Coastal Raids
Oil on Canvas
Canvas size : 24” x 32”
HMS Sylph in pursuit of the L’Artemise
Terence Lee HMS Sylph in pursuit of the L’Artemise

"As a follower of John Chancellor for many years I was immediately drawn to the three pictures by Terence Lee in your gallery today. The fact that you only have two now and my immediate decision to purchase one of them is a testament to the artist!

His work is quite outstanding, and in many ways I feel he has carried on where Chancellor left off. He must surely rank as one of our great contemporary marine artists.

Kind regards

St Fiorenzo taking the Frigate Piemontaise
St Fiorenzo taking the Frigate Piemontaise
Oil on Canvas
Canvas size : 24" x 36"
Davidson Fine Art
Davidson Fine Art
22 High St, Totnes, Devon
01803 865774