The Rescue of the Sepoy - Cromer Norfolk

Picture (c)
                    by John Ashley Photography

In the church of St. Peter and St. Paul at Cromer is a stained glass window commemorating the rescuing of the crew of the Sepoy a sixty-five ton sailing barge that run aground some two hundred yards offshore at Cromer on the 13th December 1933.

At 4am a call came into Cromer Life Boat station saying that the sailing-barge Glenway had gone aground on Happisburgh beach. The number one lifeboat (Bailey) was launched with Coxswain Henry Blogg at her helm. There was a real gale blowing and the sea was unbelievably rough.

Unfortunately the ‘Glenway’ was in such shallow water that the lifeboat was unable to get close enough to offer her any assistance. As the weather continued to deteriorate Henry Blogg decided to hole up at Great Yarmouth rather than attempting to return to Cromer. Back at Cromer the lifeboat station received a second distress message this time about the Sepoy.

The remaining crew launched the second lifeboat the Alexandra an old rowing vessel. Despite valiant attempts on their part they were unable to reach the Sepoy with its two-man crew. The crew consisting of Captain Hemstead and his First Mate had been forced to take refuge in the rigging of the barge and were in a bad state as they were battered by the elements. Blogg hearing about the Sepoy’s plight and despite the awful weather returned immediately to Cromer as he neared the coast he appraised the situation.

Blogg attempted to get a line out to the Sepoy but it didn’t succeed and as a result the Bailey lifeboat became holed. In a desperate maneuver Blogg drove the lifeboat straight over the wreck managing to snatch the young Mate to safety before the lifeboat was swept away again. He repeated the tactic and this time got the Captain. 

Dangerously low on fuel Blogg realised that he would not be able to return to the safer harbour of Great Yarmouth but instead would have to attempt a landing at Cromer. This he managed and he and his crew and the two survivors eventually reached dry land. Henry Blogg (on the left of the picture) received the RNLI’s Silver Medal first Service Clasp for this daring rescue.

Picture (c) by John Ashley Photography