Titanic Sinking - Survivor Account
THRILLING STORY BY TITANIC'S SURVIVING WIRELESS MAN
Bride Tells How He and Phillips Worked and How He Finished a Stoker Who Tried to Steal Phillip's Life Belt---Ship Sank to Tune of "Autumn.
BY HAROLD BRIDE, SURVIVING WIRELESS OPERATOR OF THE TITANIC.
(This statement was dictated by Mr. Bride to a reporter for THE NEW YORK TIMES, who visited him with Mr. Marconi in the wireless cabin of the Carpathia a few minutes after the steamship touched her pier.)
(Copyright, 1912, by The New York Times Company)
In the first place, the public should not blame anybody because more wireless messages about the disaster to the Titanic did not reach shore from the Carpathia. I positively refused to send press dispatches because the bulk of personal messages with touching words of grief was so large. The wireless operators aboard the Chester got all they asked for. And they were wretched operators.
They knew American Morse but not Continental Morse sufficiently to be worth while. They taxed our endurance to the limit.
I had to cut them out at last, they were so insufferably slow, and go ahead with our messages of grief to relatives. We sent 119 personal messages to-day, and 50 yesterday.
When I was dragged aboard the Carpathia I went to the hospital at first. I stayed there for ten hours. Then somebody brought word that the Carpathia's wireless operator was "getting queer" from the work.
They asked me if I could go up and help. I could not walk. Both my feet were broken or something, I don't know what. I went up on crutches with somebody helping me.
I took the key and I never left the wireless cabin after that. Our meals were brought to us. We kept the wireless working all the time. The navy operators were a great nuisance. I advise them all to learn the Continental Morse and learn to speed it up if they ever expect to be worth their salt. The Chester's man thought he knew it, but he was as slow as Christmas coming.
We worked all the time. Nothing went wrong. Sometimes the Carpathia man sent and sometimes I sent. There was a bed in the wireless cabin. I could sit on it and rest my feet while sending sometimes.
To begin at the beginning, I joined the Titanic at Belfast. I was born at Nunhead, England, 22 years ago, and joined the Marconi forces last July. I first worked on the Hoverford, and then on the Lusitania. I joined the Titanic at Belfast.
Asleep When Crash Came.
I didn't have much to do aboard the Titanic except to relieve Phillips from midnight until some time in the morning, when he should be through sleeping. On the night of the accident, I was not sending, but was asleep. I was due to be up and relieve Phillips earlier than usual. And that reminds me if it hadn't been for a lucky thing, we never could have sent any call for help.
The lucky thing was that the wireless broke down early enough for us to fix it before the accident. We noticed something wrong on Sunday and Phillips and I worked seven hours to find it. We found a "secretary" burned out, at last, and repaired it just a few hours before the iceberg was struck.
Phillips said to me as he took the night-shift. "You turn in, boy, and get some sleep, and go up as soon as you can and give me a chance. I'm all done for with this work of making repairs."
I was standing by Phillips telling him to go to bed when the Captain put his head in the cabin.
"We've struck an iceberg," the Captain said, "and I'm having an inspection made to tell what it had done for us. You better get ready to send out a call for assistance. But don't send it until I tell you."
We could hear a terrible confusion outside, but there was not the least thing to indicate that there was any trouble. The wireless was working perfectly.
"Send for assistance," ordered the Captain, barely putting his head in the door.
"What call should I send?" Phillips asked.
"The regulation international call for help. Just that."
Phillips began to send "C. Q. D."
He flashed away at it and we joked while he did so. All of made light of the disaster.
Joked at Distress Call.
We joked that way while he flashed signals for about five minutes. Then the Captain came back.
"What are you sending?" he asked.
"C. Q. D.," Phillips replied.
"Send 'S. O. S.', I said. "It's the new call, and it may be your last chance to send it."
Phillips with a laugh changed the signal to "S. O. S." The Captain told us we had been struck amidships, or just back of amidships. It was ten minutes, Phillips told me, after he had noticed the iceberg, that the slight jolt that was the collision's only signal to us occurred. We thought we were a good distance away.
We were picked up first the steamship Frankfurd. We gave her out position and said we had struck an iceberg and needed assistance. The Frankfurd operator went away to tell his Captain.
He came back and we told him we were sinking by the head. By that time we could observe a distinct list forward.
The Carpathia answered our signal. We told her our position and said we were sinking by the head. The operator went to tell the Captain, and in five minutes returned and told us that the Captain of the Carpathia was putting about and heading for us.
Great Scramble On Deck.
Every few minutes Phillips would send me to the Captain with little messages. They were merely telling how the Carpathia was coming our way and gave her speed.
I noticed as I came back from one trip that they were putting off women and children in lifeboats. I noticed that the list forward was increasing.
Phillips' told me the wireless was growing weaker. The Captain came and told us our engine rooms were taking water and that the dynamos might not last much longer. We sent that word to the Carpathia.
I went out on deck and looked around. The water was pretty close up to the boat deck. There was a great scrambled aft, and how poor Phillips worked through it I don't know.
He was a brave man. I learned to love him that night and I suddenly felt for him a great reverence to see him standing there sticking to his work while everybody else was raging about. I will never live to forget the work of Phillips for the last awful fifteen minutes.
We picked up the Olympic and told her we were sinking by the head and were about all down. As Phillips was sending the message I strapped his life belt to his back. I had already put on his overcoat.
The Last Boat Left.
I saw a collapsible boat near a funnel and went over to it. Twelve men were trying to boost it down to the boat deck. They were having and awful time. It was the last boat left. I looked at it longingly a few minutes. Then I gave them a hand, and over she went. They all started to scramble in on the boat deck, and I walked back to Phillips. I said the last raft had gone.
Then came the Captain's voice:
"Men, you have done your full duty. You can do no more. Abandon your cabin. Now it's every man for himself. You look out for yourselves. I release you. That's the way of it at this kind of a time. Every man for himself."
I looked out. The boat deck was awash. Phillips clung on sending and sending. He clung on for about ten minutes or maybe fifteen minutes after the Captain had released him. The water was then coming into our cabin.
While he worked something happened I hate to tell about. I was back in my room getting Phillip's money for him, and as I looked out the door I saw a stoker, or somebody from below decks, leaning over Phillips from behind. He was too busy to notice what the man was doing. The man was slipping the life belt off Phillip's back.
He was a big man, too. As you can see, I am very small. I don't know what it was I got hold of. I remembered in a flash the way Phillips had clung on---how I had to fix that life belt in place because he was too busy to do it.
I knew that the man from below decks had his own life belt and should have known where to get it.
I suddenly felt a passion not to let that man die a decent sailors' death. I wished he might have stretched a rope or walked a plank. I did my duty. I hope I finished him. I don't know. We left him on the cabin floor of the wireless room and he was not moving.
Continued on page 2, below