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On 9th February, 1861 a terrible storm struck the North Yorkshire coast and shook the town of Whitby. Several ships were sunk but all the crews were saved. It was the heroism of the lifeboat crew that has captured the imagination ever since. The 13 man lifeboat crew put out to sea despite the fact that the previous rescues had left them exhausted. By 2pm that day the schooner Merchant was in the early stages of running onto the beach when the lifeboat began pulling alongside. But at that moment the lifeboat turned completely over, throwing her crew into the sea. The crew were only 50 yards from the pier and wearing lifejackets, but only one of these men, Henry Freeman, would make it to shore. Of the 13 men who set out for the daring rescue, he was the sole survivor. The people lining the shores watching the drama unfold were horrified, but could do nothing to help. Rockets were fired to aid the men, and several onlookers dived in to save the men, only to find themselves in need of help.