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Action of 17th May 1756

17th May 1756
Part of : Seven Years' War (1756/05/17 - 1763/02/10)
Next action : Battle of Minorca 20.5.1756

The French ships were standing in for Rochefort in charge of a convoy, when, quite near the forts, they were sighted by the British and chased. The convoy was ordered to make the best of its way, and the men-of-war gave battle to cover its retreat. The ships paired off, the Colchester engaging the Aquilon, while the frigates fought it out together; but so equal were the forces on both sides, that, when they parted by mutual consent, and with heavy loss, no definite result had been arrived at as the outcome of seven hours' hard pounding.


Great Britain

British Vessels
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Colchester (50) 1746-1773
British 50 Gun
4th Rate Ship of the Line
Lucius O'BrienBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1738-1770
Lyme (24) 1748-1760
British 24 Gun
6th Rate Frigate
Edward VernonBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1735-1794

Royaume de France

French Convoy Escort
Ship NameCommanderNotes
L'Aquilon (42) 1733-1757
French 42 Gun
5th Rate Frégate-Vaisseau de 1er Ordre
La Fidèle (24) 1748-1758
French 24 Gun
6th Rate Frigate
de LizardaisFrench
Naval Sailor
Service 1756

Notes on Action

A French AccountTGM

The Aquion frigate of 40 guns, and the Fidele of 24, commanded by the Sieurs de Maurville, captain, and Lizardais, a lieutenant, who had convoyed some merchantmen to a certain latitude, were returning to Rochefort, when, on the 17th of May, near the Isle of Oleron, they fell in with an Englishman of war of 56 guns, and a frigate of 30, who gave them chase. The fight began at six in the evening between the English man of war with her frigate, and the king's two frigates, in such a manner, that at first the Fidele received part of the large English ship's broadsides, but afterwards it became separate between the large ships, and the English frigate kept to the Fidele, who soon lost sight of the two first. The engagement between the AQuilon and the English man of war lasted almost 8 hours, and the other two fought near 6 hours. Notwithstanding the great superiority of the enemy's artillery, the king's two frigates forced them sheer off; but being disabled in their masts, rigging, &c. could not pursue them.

Another Description B103

On the 17th of May, early in the morning, the Colchester, of 50, and the Lyme, of 26 guns, Captains Lucius O'Brien and Edward Vernon, part of the fleet of Vice- Admiral Boscawen, being off the Isle of Oleron, discovered and gave chase to two sail. The pursuit lasted all day; but at 5h. p.m., the Colchester having arrived up with the sternmost, the Aquilon, 50, engaged her very closely; while Captain Vernon, in the Lyme, engaged the other, which was the 32 gun frigate Fidelle. After an action of six hours' duration, the French ships made off, leaving the Colchester and Lyme much damaged in hull and rigging, with the loss of a great many men.

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