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Pocket watch awarded to lifeboat hero who helped save 30 lives goes to auction

PUBLISHED: 06:30 21 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:04 21 March 2019

Cromer lifeboat crew member Walter Allen. Photo: Submitted

Cromer lifeboat crew member Walter Allen. Photo: Submitted

Archant

A pocket watch awarded to a Cromer lifeboat crewman for his part in the daring rescue of 30 men from a stricken ship goes under the hammer next week.

The Walter Allen watch. Photo: Newman Associates PRThe Walter Allen watch. Photo: Newman Associates PR

The silver-cased watch was presented to Walter Allen after he helped save the SS Georgia crew more than 90 years ago off Happisburgh sands.

Now, the piece of Norfolk lifeboat history is going to auction in Aylsham where it is expected to fetch between £250 to £300.

Mr Allen was serving under the command of legendary lifeboat captain Henry Blogg when his crew was called to assist an oil tanker that broke in two in November 1927.

The tanker’s captain and 14 crew were left on the vessel’s bow section, which was stuck on a sandbank. A further 16 crewmen were on a section of the tanker’s stern which was drifting out to sea.

The Walter Allen watch, rear view with inscription. Photo: Newman Associates PRThe Walter Allen watch, rear view with inscription. Photo: Newman Associates PR

The Cromer lifeboat, the H.F. Bailey, was on scene for more than 24 hours, but eventually rescued the crew from the bow section some 40 hours after the ship ran aground.

It was assisted by the Gorleston lifeboat and a passing steamer.

Both sections of the SS Georgia eventually sank beneath the waves, but thanks to the bravery of the lifeboat crew, everyone was saved.

Mr Allen, who received the watch for his efforts, later died on active lifeboat duty in 1941, aged 49, while on duty with Mr Blogg.

Painting by Mick Bensley showing Henry Blogg and his crew's 1927 rescue of the crew from the Dutch tanker SS Georgia. Picture: SubmittedPainting by Mick Bensley showing Henry Blogg and his crew's 1927 rescue of the crew from the Dutch tanker SS Georgia. Picture: Submitted

He is buried in Cromer cemetery.

David Broom, of Keys Fine Art Auctioneers, said: “The bravery of the Cromer lifeboatmen, and especially the exploits of the legendary Henry Blogg, are well documented, and it is exciting to have an artefact so closely related to one of their more onerous rescues.

“Antiques are always much more sought-after where there is a story behind them, especially if it is a local story connected with a well-known figure.

“We are expecting significant local interest in the watch.”

Painting of the Cromer lifeboat's 1927 medal-winning rescue of the SS Georgia. Photo: SubmittedPainting of the Cromer lifeboat's 1927 medal-winning rescue of the SS Georgia. Photo: Submitted

It will be auctioned as part of Keys Fine Art Auctioneers three-day event from Wednesday, March 27 to Friday , March 29 at its Aylsham salerooms.

The watch will go under the hammer on the second day of Keys’ three-day sale, on Thursday, March 28. Further details can be found at www.keysauctions.co.uk.

Do you have an interesting piece of Norfolk’s history? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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