Henry Thomas Davies
|Henry Thomas Davies|
Cromer, Norfolk, England
Coxswain of the Cromer lifeboat (1947–1976)
|Parent(s)||Father: William Thomas Davies|
Henry "Shrimp" Thomas Davies BEM (1914– 2002) was a famous lifeboatman from Cromer on the north coast of Norfolk, England. "Shrimp" Davies, as he was affectionately known, was one of Cromer Lifeboat Station's longest serving coxswains, retiring in February 1976. He had joined the crew of the Cromer life-boat H F Bailey in 1931 and became coxswain in 1947 taking over from Henry Blogg. "Shrimp" was coxswain of Cromer life-boats Henry Blogg and Ruby and Arthur Reed. Henry got his nickname from his uncle, Henry Blogg, who gave his nephew the nickname "Shrimp" after seeing him as a tiny baby.
Shrimp Davies had a near-fatal involvement in the famous rescue of the SS English Trader on 26 October 1941. At 8.15 am on that day the Cromer lifeboat H F Bailey, crewed by twelve men including crewman Shrimp Davies and coxswain Henry Blogg, was launched to aid the stricken ship. By 11.35 that morning the life-boat had reached the site, the Hammond Knoll sandbank. Unfortunately by this time three of the English Trader's crew had been swept off the foundering ship to their death. By the time the H F Bailey reached the ship the gale was at full force and things looked bleak. The remaining 44 crew of the stricken ship had taken refuge in the chart room, the highest and safest point on the ship. The life-boat made two attempts to get a line to the English Trader without any success. A further attempt at rescue resulted in a near disaster for the H F Bailey and in the death of one of her crew. Coxswain Henry Blogg had attempted to approach the stricken vessel and a wall of water hit the lifeboat on her port side which washed five of the lifeboat men including Shrimp Davies and coxswain Blogg, overboard into the raging sea. The five men were hauled back on to the lifeboat but the signalman, Edward "Boy Primo" W. Allen after being in the water for 25 minutes fell unconscious and died a short time later. Despite these traumas, H F Bailey was able go on and rescue the crew of 44 from the English Trader, taking them to the safety of Great Yarmouth.
In 1947 Henry Davies took over as coxswain of the Cromer life-boat from his uncle, Henry Blogg. Shrimp's first significant mission as coxswain took place in July 1947. The Cromer life-boat Henry Blogg, so named after Shrimp's uncle, was launched into storm to help a leaking French collier Francois Tixier off Sheringham. The lifeboatmen hauled a dozen crewmen to safety with a breeches buoy. Another four were pulled from the water when the collier capsized. For this Henry was awarded the Maritime Medal, France's highest award for lifesaving at sea. In 1970 Henry Davies was awarded the British Empire Medal for "maintaining the highest traditions of the lifeboat service".
This is Your life
On 18 February 1976 Eamonn Andrews surprised Shrimp Davies with his "Big Red Book". Henry Thomas Davies was made the subject of the ITV programme This is Your Life on the night before Shrimp retired as coxswain. After retiring from the lifeboat in 1976, Shrimp continued to run the family deckchair business on Cromer's east beach where he was a familiar and talkative figure. Henry Davies died in the summer of 2002 at the age of 88. Lifeboatmen from across the country attended his funeral to commemorate a man whose career saw some of the most daring and dramatic rescues in lifeboat history. In his 45 years of service he took part in more than 500 rescues.
Bust of Henry "Shrimp" Davies in the Henry Blogg Museum in Cromer.
- Jolly, Cyril (2002). Henry Blogg, the Greatest of the Lifeboatmen (new ed.). Poppyland Publishing. ISBN 0-946148-59-7.
- Leach, Nicholas; Russell, Paul (2004). Cromer Lifeboats 1804–2004. Tempus Publishing. ISBN 0-7524-3197-8.
- Jolly, Cyril (1981). The Loss of the English Trader. Acorn Editions. ISBN 0-906554-06-3.
- Malster, Bob; Stibbons, Peter. The Cromer Lifeboats. Poppyland Publishing. ISBN 0-946148-21-X.