Appeal to save Cromer hero's watches

Richard Batson A public appeal has been launched to keep a Norfolk lifeboat legend's commemorative watches in his home town.Two watches given to Cromer coxswain Henry Blogg are due to go under the auctioneer's hammer next month.

Richard Batson

A public appeal has been launched to keep a lifeboat legend's commem-orative watches in his home town.

Two watches given to Cromer coxswain Henry Blogg are due to go under the auctioneer's hammer next month.

But the RNLI is asking people to donate to a fighting fund hoping to top the bidding and bring them back to the resort - for display in a museum which carries Blogg's name.

The watches were presented by the Netherlands government and local people after Blogg and his crew battled heavy seas and gales to pluck 15 men from the Dutch tanker SS Georgia after it broke in two on the treacherous Haisborough Sand in November 1927.

It was a rescue which earned Blogg the second of his three gold medals, and the rest of his crew got bronzes.

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The watches are being sold at Keys Aylsham auction rooms on April 15, along with some family photo albums giving a glimpse of the private man behind the hero, and an illuminated book given to Blogg on his retirement in 1947 charting the lifeboatman's 53-year service which saw him save 873 people during 387 launches.

Cromer's RNLI-run Henry Blogg museum is keen to add the watches to the collections which surround the coxswain's famous H F Bailey boat in the seafront heritage attraction.

It has launched an appeal for £2,000 - matching the upper guide price for the £1,500-£2,000 lot.

Museum manager Jacqui Palmer said: "We have all of Henry's medals on display in the museum and it would be wonderful to add these watches for local people and visitors to Cromer to see.

"I really hope we can raise the money needed to help secure this part of our maritime heritage in time for the auction."

Blogg is Britain's most decorated lifeboatman with an unrivalled chest full of medals that include three RNLI golds, four silvers, the George Cross and British Empire Medal.

An extract from the RNLI's journal The Lifeboat reporting on the Georgia rescue in May 1928 said: "Seeing the desperate state of the 15 men, the Cromer Coxswain did not wait to anchor or use his line-throwing gun.

"He chose the desperate course of running alongside the wreck. The sea and the strong tide turned the lifeboat completely round, and threw her stern-first against the wreck.

"She was severely damaged, but not out of control. Ropes were thrown and 15 men jumped into the lifeboat. Then, for a moment, as a heavy sea carried her right into the bulwark of the wreck, she was in imminent danger of being completely smashed, but her engines were reversed, and before the next sea came she was thrown clear."

People wanting to help are asked to send a cheque, payable to the RNLI Heritage Trust, addressed to Appeal, RNLI Henry Blogg Museum, The Rocket House, The Gangway, Cromer, NR27 9ET. They should enclose their name and address, and a note indicating whether the money should be returned or used to support other RNLI heritage projects if the bid fails or the appeal raises more money than needed.

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