Encyclopedia Titanica

Harold Thomas Cottam

Harold Thomas Cottam
Harold Thomas Cottam

Mr Harold Thomas Cottam was born on 27 January 1891 in Southwell, Notts, the eldest son of William Cottam (builder) and his wife Jane. Harold had four younger brothers.

He attended Minter Grammar School and later studied the Marconi wireless system in London. Harold was the youngest ever graduate from the GB school of telegraphy, finishing when he was still 17. He went to sea straight away, but later returned to shore to work at one of the shore stations belonging to the Post office. He returned to sea aboard the White Star Liner Medic, on the Liverpool to Sydney run. He made two round trips before transferring to the Carpathia in February 1912.

On 14 April 1912 Cottam was aboard the Carpathia. He was waiting for an answer from the Parisian before going to bed. He was bending down to untie his shoelaces when the message came in. He rushed to tell Captain Rostron who immediately ordered the Carpathia turned around. As the Carpathia steamed back to New York Cottam worked with Titanic wireless operator Harold Bride to transmit messages from the survivors to to their relatives 1.

Cottam served on the Raith Castle in January 1919, the Orsoba in the same year and in the Chira in 1921.

Harold married Elsie Jean Shepperson in 1922 and they had four children, two boys and two girls, William, Jean, Sybil and Angus. Angus died in the late 1960's but not in Vietnam as has been quoted by some sources. William lived in the USA, Sybil in Canada and Jean in Australia.

Harold Cottam died 30 May 1984. He was cremated at Wilford Hill crematorium Nottingham England on 5th June 1984 his ashes are scattered in the garden of rest


1. Rumours that Harold continued a friendship with Harold Bride via radio in later years seem unfounded, Harold's own nephew can never recall him owning such apparatus.

References and Sources

General Register Office Certified Copy of an Entry of Birth
General Register Office Certified Copy of an Entry of Marriage
United States Senate (62nd Congress), Subcommittee Hearings of the Committee on Commerce, Titanic Disaster, Washington 1912
Wreck Commissioners' Court, Proceedings before the Right Hon. Lord Mersey on a Formal Investigation Ordered by the Board of Trade into the Loss of the S.S. Titanic

Research Articles

Jemma Hyder Titanica! (2002) Excuse Sending ... Am Half Asleep
The experience of Carpathia Wireless Operator Harold Cottam

Newspaper Articles

New York Times (19 April 1912) BOY WIRELESS SAVED THEM
Evening Bulletin (20 April 1912) Bride being taken from Carpathia
Second Wireless Operator of the Titanic
New York Times (21 April 1912) ACCUSE WIRELESS OPERATOR
New York Times (21 April 1912) Harold Bride Resting
The Evening Telegram (22 April 1912) Carpathia wireless operator Harold Cottam
Washington Times (22 April 1912) WIRELESS OPERATOR H. T. COTTAM
Washington Times (26 April 1912) Harold Cottam
New York Times (27 April 1912) NO WIRELESS ORDER TO HOLD BACK NEWS
The Times (31 May 1984) Harold Cottam (1)


BBC Television (1956) Interviews with survivors
First Hand: 2: The Sinking of the 'Titanic'
Among the items a bridge telegraph and a bronze porthole
Search archive online

Comment and discuss

  1. DetsEightyOne

    harold cottam is my great great uncle,

  2. Mcrawley

    i am trying to establish that my 1927 Scott motorcycle reg no FU7723 was owned by Harold Cottam the Scott club original historian always was of that opinion bike was registered in nottinghamshire

  3. Jack H

    It was refreshing to see footage of him being interviewed. It dates to around 1956. I think 3 of Harold Cottam's children are still alive. The youngest probably in their mid 80s (as of September 2017). I don't think Harold has any great great great grandchildren yet. But great grandchildren? Certainly.


    Dear Ms. Dovey, My grandmother, Florie Cottam, and Harold are first cousins. Our branch of the family immigrated to Canada between 1906 and 1912. Harold's brother, Ken Cottam, kept in contact with our branch, after we left England. I worked in London during the early 1970's. While living there, I went to Nottingham to visit with Ken and his wife Mary several times. I trust this will be of interest to you. Sincerely, your cousin, Larry :-)

  5. Samantha Elizabeth Cottam

    Hi there, I've recently found out about Harold and am in complete awe of the fact he helped saved so many people. Since we share a surname I did wonder there was any chance we were related. My grandfather who is also a Cottam is from Lancashire. He was born there I believe but not sure where everyone else in the family is from. Even if we're not related it's pretty cool sharing a surname with someone so amazing.

  6. destiny dovey

    my name is destiny dovey and Harold cottam is my great great great grandfather whoever is related can you please email me thanx :)

  7. Thorsten Totzke

    Hi! nice to see serval relatives from Harold Cottam here! Can anyone help me in my research? I try to find out if, and if yes which type of the Medal from the Titanic Survivors Harlod get? and what happend to there? anyone can help?

  8. ihavecoins

    DId he receive a medal to the best of your knowledge?

  9. lucykathleen

    hi can you maybe writte me back. he was a good friend of jack philips.

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Carpathia Crew Summary

Name: Harold Thomas Cottam
Age: 21 years 2 months and 19 days (Male)
Occupation: Telegraphist
Ship: Carpathia
Died: Wednesday 30th May 1984 aged 93 years
Cremated: Wilford Hill Crematorium, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England

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