In 1917, a Gold Medal was awarded to Coxswain Henry George Blogg, Silver Medals to William Davies and Private Stewart Holmes, and Bronze Medals awarded to crew members George Allen, James Allen, Edward Allen, William Allen, Henry Balls, Charles Cox, George Cox, Leslie Harrison, Tom Kirby, Gilbert Mayers, Walter Rix, and William Rix in recognition of the seamanship, unwavering courage, tenacity and physical endurance displayed by them when the lifeboat went to the assistance of the Swedish steamer Fernebo after an explosion had broke the vessel in two in a strong north-easterly gale in the afternoon of 9 January 1917.
The lifeboat, only just returned from a service to the Greek vessel Pyrin, and with a crew undaunted by their previous exertions, tried to launched once more with the assistance of hundreds of servicemen, many up to their necks in the water, but it was impossible to get past the heavy surf and she was driven back onto the beach. Several more unsuccessful attempts were made to launch and rocket apparatus was also tried, but just before midnight the lifeboat was successfully launched and rescued 11 survivors.
This was the first time Bronze medals had been awarded. Due to wartime demands, lifeboat crews were almost all, over military age, and more than one in this lifeboat crew was approaching 70 years of age. The Committee of Management voted a grant of £100 to a soldier, Driver John Sharp who became paralysed after assisting as a launcher on this service. He died as a result of his illness on 21 September 1918 and the grant of £100, which had been invested, was returned to the Institution.
Pieces of the wreckage are still visible at low tide on Cromer beach.
Photo courtesy of RNLI.