Plaque unveiled in memory of heroic Gorleston lifeboatman William Fleming

The unveiling of the blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. Paddy Lee,

The unveiling of the blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. Paddy Lee, present day coxswain mechanic with the Gorleston RNLI, with the plaque he unveiled. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

The second most decorated Norfolk lifeboatman has been honoured with the unveiling of a blue plaque in his memory.

The crowd at the unveiling of the blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain

The crowd at the unveiling of the blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

More than 60 people, including many with family connections, gathered outside the former home of Coxswain William Fleming in Pavilion Road, Gorleston to witness the unveiling by the current Coxswain of the Great Yarmouth and Gorleston RNLI lifeboat, Paddy Lee.

The plaque was provided by Gorleston on Sea Heritage Group.

Mr Lee said: 'What a fantastic turnout for a great man, 34 years as a lifeboatman. I am proud and honoured to follow in his footsteps.'

William Fleming was presented with what was later to become the George Cross for bravery in 1923 for one of the greatest rescues in the history of the service.

The unveiling of the blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. From left,

The unveiling of the blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. From left, Les Cockrill, chairman GOSH; Paddy Lee, coxswain mechanic Gorleston RNLI; Jim Carter, honorary president Gorleston RNLI; Capt. Lindsey Wigmore, senior river pilot; and Des Mallion, Gorleston RNLI crew member. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017


You may also want to watch:


In a howling gale and 40ft high waves he took the Gorleston lifeboat no fewer than four times out to the vessel Hopelyn which was stuck hard and fast on Scroby Sands, her crew of 24 and the ship's pet cat in peril as they huddled from the raging seas that persistently swept over them.

After several rescue attempts, the lifeboatmen were exhausted and their boat damaged. Undaunted, Fleming and some of his colleagues volunteered to join the Lowestoft motor powered lifeboat as she launched to continue the rescue.

Most Read

The mission was a success with everybody plucked to safety – even the cat and 18 Gorleston and Lowestoft lifeboatmen were decorated for their bravery by the RNLI.

A seaman and fisherman, Fleming had been in his late 50s when he became coxswain in 1922, a post he held until 1934. Over his 49 years of service he helped rescue 1,188 people.

The unveiling of the blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. Chairman of

The unveiling of the blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. Chairman of GOSH, Les Cockrill. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

He lived to the age of 89, dying in 1954, and is buried in the Gorleston old cemetery.

A plaque to his memory was erected in the Gorleston Lifeboat Shed after his death in 1954.

Henry Blogg of Cromer was the county's most decorated lifeboatman.

The unveiling of the blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. Jim Carter,

The unveiling of the blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. Jim Carter, honorary president Gorleston RNLI. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

William Fleming, George Cross holder soxswain of Gorleston Lifeboat

William Fleming, George Cross holder soxswain of Gorleston Lifeboat - Credit: Gorleston on Sea Heritage group

Retired long-serving Gorleston lifeboat coxswain William Fleming on his 84th birthday, five years be

Retired long-serving Gorleston lifeboat coxswain William Fleming on his 84th birthday, five years before his death. Pictures: CLIFFORD TEMPLE - Credit: Archant

The unveiling of the blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. Captain Lin

The unveiling of the blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. Captain Lindsey Wigmore, senior river pilot. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

The unveiling of the blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. Des Mallion

The unveiling of the blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. Des Mallion, Gorleston RNLI crew member. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

The unveiling of the blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. Jim Carter,

The unveiling of the blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. Jim Carter, honorary president Gorleston RNLI. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

The unveiling of the blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. Jim Carter,

The unveiling of the blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. Jim Carter, honorary president Gorleston RNLI. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

The unveiling of the blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. Paddy Lee,

The unveiling of the blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. Paddy Lee, present day coxswain mechanic with the Gorleston RNLI. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

The unveiling of the blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. Paddy Lee,

The unveiling of the blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. Paddy Lee, present day coxswain mechanic with the Gorleston RNLI, unveils the plaque. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

The blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The blue plaque to William Fleming, Gorleston lifeboatman and Coxswain. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus