• Cromer RNLI

Through the Archives

In the autumn of 1939 Mount Ida, carrying a cargo of grain and timber, and with a crew of 29, left Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada bound for the port of Leith, Scotland.


On 9 October 1939 she was close to the north-east coast of Norfolk.


Despite being equipped with direction finding equipment and an echo sounding device the Mount Ida ran aground on a sandbank. At 0625 hrs the coastguard told the coxswain of the Cromer lifeboat, Henry Blogg that the Mount Ida was aground and asked that the lifeboat be sent to assist her. Since the outbreak of the Second World War a month earlier, RNLI lifeboats had been under the control of the naval authorities, and this was only the second rescue effort by the Cromer lifeboat under this arrangement.


The Cromer lifeboat H.F.Bailey was launched and set off towards Haisborough Sands, which is where Coxswain Blogg had been told the Mount Ida was aground. The lifeboat had been at sea for an hour when the coastguard informed Blogg by radio that Mount Ida was not on Haisborough Sands but was grounded 19 miles (31 km) further north-east, on Ower Bank.


The H.F. Bailey crossed Leman Bank and reached the Mount Ida around 1230 hrs. By this time the ship's starboard lifeboat had been carried away, she was listing heavily to starboard and lying head on to the seas, and her position offered no lee for the lifeboat to come alongside. The H.F. Bailey made an attempt to throw a line to the stricken vessel but was twice struck by the heavy seas and flung back. Coxswain Blogg made another attempt to come alongside, before deciding that it was too dangerous and that he would have to wait for the sea to slacken.


By 1415 hrs conditions had improved and Blogg, using the lifeboat's powerful engines with great skill, was able to maintain a steady position alongside the ship for over an hour. During this time all 29 crewmen were brought off successfully, though one suffered crushed legs when he hesitated to descend the rope ladder and was trapped between the lifeboat and the Mount Ida; he later died of his injuries in  Cromer Hospital.


During the rescue, the lifeboat was continually flung against the hull of the Mount Ida. Because the H F Bailey was badly damaged, Cromer’s no 2 lifeboat, Harriot Dixon, was called out to bring the rescued men ashore. The Harriot Dixon, too, was damaged as it was launched into heavy seas, but the rescue effort was successful.


The Mount Ida was never salvaged and slowly sank into the sands of Ower Bank.


Silver Medal Third Service Bar awarded to Coxswain Henry G Blogg; Bronze Medal Third Service Bar to Second Coxswain John J Davies (Senior); Bronze Medals Second Service Bar awarded to Mechanic Henry W Davies and Assistant Mechanic James W Davies for the rescue of 29 from the Greek steamer Mount Ida wrecked on Ower Bank on 9/10 October 1939. This was the first lifeboat medal to be awarded in the war of 1939-1945. The eight other lifeboat crew members were also awarded the Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum.




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In Cromer there are two boathouses, one for the All-Weather Lifeboat "Lester" on the pier and the other for the Inshore Lifeboat on the east promenade. This boathouse was originally built in 1902 for the then rowing and sailing lifeboat Louisa Heartwell. Also on the east promenade you'll find the Henry Blogg Lifeboat Museum. The whole town is proud of the man referred to as 'the greatest of the lifeboatmen', who gained national fame in the first half of the 20th century when navigation around the Norfolk coastline was particularly hazardous in easterly gales.