In every coastal community courageous souls set sail into terrifying storms when inland folk stay safe at home. Among the most famous of them all is Henry Blogg, Coxswain of the Cromer Lifeboat. By trade this modest, quiet-living fellow was a crab fisherman. In summer he rented out deck chairs and beach huts. But it was in rougher weather he made his name as ‘One of the Bravest Men who Ever Lived’.
He won the RNLI gold medal for conspicuous gallantry 3 times and the silver medal 4 times, plus the George Cross for general war service and a British Empire Medal, making him the most decorated lifeboatman in RNLI history. A national hero, commended for remarkable leadership, he celebrated the ‘dogged tenacity’ of his crew and kept the medals in his sideboard, rarely worn.
A lifeboatman since 1909, his first medals were won in 1917 when the Cromer’s lifeboat, Louisa Heartwell, launched 4 times in a relentless storm, to rescue 22 crew onboard the Pyrin, a Greek vessel. Looking forward to bowls of hot soup and a good rest after 14 hours at sea, they learned a Swedish ship Fernabo, had been blown in two by a floating mine. Rowing out more 3 times, it took another 24 hours to save the the stricken men.
By the time Henry retired aged 74 after 53 years of service, he’d saved 873 lives.