Don't quote me on this, I don't have any sources nearby, but I think Cottam was Carpathia's only operator and he was on his way to bed when he got Titanic's distress call. Just blind luck he happened to be listening at the time.
Mike and Josh, there are plenty of references to Cottam, but I have over 50 Titanic books so I can't remember specifically which ones document it. However, Josh, you're right. Cottam was changing into his pj's when he heard the signals and picked up the headphones to hear what they were saying. Too bad the wireless operator on the Californian didn't hear them. They were only 10-12 miles away.
This is the first time i have used this site and i am hoping someone can help me with a question,who was the 1st mate of the carpathia? i have a front page article of my local paper in bournemouth England stating that it was my great-grandfather Harry Johnson who was born in Runcorn,is this true?if not did he serve on the Carpathia in any capacity?
Nope. Not on the voyage that's of interest to us here anyway. The Carpathia's officers were as follows
Chief Officer; Thomas W. Hankinson
First Officer; Horace J. Dean
Second Officer; James G.P. Bisset
Third Officer; Erik Rees
Fourth Officer; Goeffrey H. Barnish