News Debunking An Untrue Story About Titanic Hero John G. "Jack" Phillips


RHeld

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Mar 27, 2012
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Excerpt:

"Debunking An Untrue Story About Titanic Hero John G. "Jack" Phillips

Among the reams of copy being spun out about the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster was an article in the LA Times entitled "English town honors its Titanic hero"
( English town honors its Titanic hero - Los Angeles Times)

In this article it is claimed:

"The doomed vessel was losing power, and his signals grew fainter. Other ships tried frantically to get through. Shortly after 2 a.m., nearly out of hope, Smith released Phillips and Bride from duty, telling them: "It's every man for himself."
Bride rushed out. But Phillips didn't budge, desperately attempting to call across the icy waters to whoever might pick up."

This is manifestly false."

Read the entire article here - TH's History Viewpoint: Debunking An Untrue Story About Titanic Hero John G. "Jack" Phillips
 

VillageJen

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Apr 18, 2012
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I've always felt that I'm missing something about Jack Phillips being a hero. Had he not told the Californian to "Shut up" when they were trying to warn of nearby ice, mightn't the disaster not have happened? After all, the Californian was so close to the Titanic that the message was extremely loud to Phillips.

He chose to ignore the California's warning in order to focus on personal messages. That may have been his official duty but it led to the crash.
 

Brad Rousse

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Do remember there's a NUMBER of factors involved besides Phillips' curt blasting of Evans. With the two ships so close to each other, Evans' casual message (saying "Old Man" as opposed to indicating official ship business) would have been defeaning to Phillips, let alone interrupting of his work. I don't blame him for being a little testy.

Further, to say that Phillips' blasting of Evans led to Titanic's demise is unfair to Phillips. Evans was off duty and asleep by the time Titanic had hit the iceberg, and we're opening the classic can of worms about what Californian did and did not do that night (in that they may not have influenced what happened too much, but should have at least tried). Also, Titanic was speeding headlong into ice with numerous other messages coming together to confirm that fact, messages that were not acted upon. You can say that Phillips was unprofessional or not thinking straight, but to say he sealed Titanic's doom is unfair and inaccurate.

As for him being a hero, he stayed at his post and alerted Carpathia to come to the survivors' aid. I suppose that in and of itself is heroic.
 

VillageJen

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Apr 18, 2012
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Thank you for the thoughtful response, Brad.

I'm admittedly ignorant as to how everything happened that night, even though I've read scores of books and watched as many documentaries lately. I've just been pondering why Phillips would have ignored what seemed to be the most crucial warning.

He definitely deserves my credit for his response once things went awry. I have deep respect for those who didn't fall to the "every man for himself" line of thought. That is heroic.
 

Adam Went

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Apr 28, 2003
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Phillips cannot possibly be blamed for the collision with the iceberg. The ship was travelling too fast for a start, which had nothing to do with Phillips. What happened with the Californian would have been akin to having somebody walk up to you and shout "Oy!" right in your earhole with a megaphone in their hand while you're trying to work your way through a stack of business.....I wouldn't have been over the moon about it either.

Phillips was the senior wireless operator and as such he did his duty very well, somebody will always try and find a scapegoat....
 

Jake Peterson

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Mar 11, 2012
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I sort of see where VilliageJen is coming from. Perhaps if Phillips hadn't repremanded Evans, or if Evans had entered the wireless traffic normally, perhaps Evans might still have been awake to hear the distress call. I always got the impression that Evans was ticked off with Phillips, so he wasted no time in retiring that night at the normal 11:30 shut-off time.

On the other hand, if this is true, Phillips did more than make up for his fault with staying at his post to practically the end. I think it was only when the water reached the boat deck/bridge and a guy snuck in to steal Phillips' lifejacket, that they sprung into action and headed towards the lifeboats.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>I always got the impression that Evans was ticked off with Phillips, so he wasted no time in retiring that night at the normal 11:30 shut-off time.<<

Maybe. It's a bit difficult to read the mind of a man who's long gone to whatever lies beyond. Personally, I think this may be reading more to it then is really there. It's not as if anybody saw the iceberg coming after all. Besides, these guys worked some pretty horrendous hours with little or no relief. After working from dawn to long past sundown, I'd be anxious to get to bed as well.
 

Jake Peterson

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Well, my conclusions are only based on what I read, and having read both Walter Lord and Daniel Butler's take on it, I feel safe in saying that. My assertions come from Lord's chapter of his second novel, though.
 

VillageJen

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Phillips was the senior wireless operator and as such he did his duty very well, somebody will always try and find a scapegoat....
I hope that I'm not one of those you think is looking for a scapegoat. I don't hold Phillips solely responsible for the disaster. It's just that whenever I come to the part of the story where he brushes off that particular warning, I wish so desperately that he hadn't.

Of course, there are many parts of the story that I wish had gone differently. If only any one element had been different, the entire outcome may have been different. I think that's what makes the story so compelling, even after all of these years.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Well, my conclusions are only based on what I read, and having read both Walter Lord and Daniel Butler's take on it, I feel safe in saying that.<<

Don't be.

Whatever their merits as researchers, niether was a mind reader and they would be no more adept at trying to psychoanalyze a dead man then either one of us.
 

Adam Went

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Apr 28, 2003
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VillageJen, my comment was meant to be taken generally and was not aimed directly at anyone. What must be remembered is that the Titanic had received several ice warnings in the lead up to the collision with the iceberg, it's not as though the message from the Californian was the only one. The bridge was aware of the risks and it was they who chose not only to sail on but to sail on at a pretty fast rate, there's no reason to believe that even if the message from the Californian had been taken and handed on that it would have made any difference to the outcome either.
 

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