15th August was the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, the end of the war in the Far East. The following day in 1945 was the last occasion on which the Henry Ramey Upcher lifeboat (HRU) put to sea. We could not let this occasion pass without marking it in some way. Owing to continuing Covid restrictions it was not possible to have the lifeboat shed open to visitors in the usual way, but on Saturday and Sunday 15th and 16th August the doors of the shed were open so that the boat could be viewed from outside and Chief Steward Malcolm Peddar and Chairman Peter Strudwick were on hand to explain to visitors the events of 75 years ago.
What was to have been a joyful celebratory trip ended in confusion and danger. Carried away by enthusiasm at the end of the conflict in the Far East, in which many servicemen from East Anglia had been engaged, the boat set sail with too many passengers and got into difficulties 1 mile offshore, being unable to tack back to Sheringham in a strong south-westerly wind and heavy swell. The motorised Sheringham RNLI lifeboat the Forester’s Centenary had to be launched to tow the HRU back. On beaching, several passengers were soaked when a large wave broke over the stern and there was some damage to the boat itself.
RNLI records from the time record “rewards” of £16 13s 6d (£16.68), presumably donations from passengers, probably added to when grateful for their rescue from a potentially dangerous situation. The 141 visitors of 2020 contributed £69.62, which likewise will be donated to the RNLI. Almost all of this was collected on the Saturday. Sunday 16th was marred by very unpleasant weather, resulting in flooding in parts of Sheringham.