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10th Feb 2024

‘Bravest man who ever lived’ celebrated on RNLI’s 200th anniversary

Joseph Loftus

He’s recognised by many as the bravest man who ever lived.

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), colourised images depicting the heroism of lifeboat crews gone by have been shared online.

Many of those images show Lifeboatman Henry Blogg who is frequently referred to as the bravest man who ever lived.

Henry who was born back in 1876 was a bright child but left school at 11 to work on the family crab boat.

Here, he mastered the skills of seamanship, although he never leant to swim.

When he was eighteen, the already-seasoned seaman, joined the lifeboat crew.

Throughout his time on the lifeboats, Henry carried 387 rescues and helped to save the lives of at least 873 people.

Henry’s first medal-winning rescue took place in 1917 when his crew launched four times in 14 hours during a terrible storm.

Henry’s lifeboat battled 50mph winds to rescue the 22 people onboard the Greek ship, Pyrin.

Just as they landed safely back ashore, Henry was told of another boat, the Swedish ship Fernabo, which had been blown in two by a mine.

Immediately, Henry rushed back out to sea and rescued the sailors aboard, for which he was awarded his first Gold Medal.

Another famous rescue took place in 1932 when the Italian Monte Nevoso ran aground on the Haisborough Sands.

Henry launched his lifeboat with several tugs to refloat the ship, but unfortunately the Italian vessel began breaking up.

Henry was able to rescue the ships crew-mates but the officers refused to leave. After returning twice to save the captain and his officers, Henry found the ship abandoned.

Left behind was a mountain dog and some caged birds, which he rescued. By the time they arrived home, Henry and his crew had been at sea for 52 hours.

For this, he was awarded a Silver Medal for his seamanship, courage, and endurance. He was also gifted the rescue dog, which named after the ship, Monte.

Much of Henry’s legacy as the bravest man who ever lived stems from his many rescues during World War Two.

Due to air attacks and sea mines, Henry found himself extremely busy saving lives throughout the six years of the war.

During his time in the RNLI, Henry received three Gold and four Silver medals as well as a George Cross for general war service and a British Empire Medal.

He remains the most decorated person in RNLI history.

What a hero.