Jack Phillips' final moments

Arun Vajpey

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Who are the documented witnesses other than Harold Bride who claim to have seen Jack Phillips alive in the final minutes before the Titanic broke-up and sank? I mean all of those who claim to have seen him after 02:15, approximately the time he and Bride left the Marconi room and went their separate ways.

Somehow I find it difficult to believe Lightoller's statements about Phillips clinging on to Collapsible B for while and even conversing with the Second Officer before slipping into the icy Atlantic waters to his death. How well did Lightoller know the two 'Sparks'? Did he mistake Bride for Phillips? According to Bride, Phillips went aft and away from Collapsible B when the two left the radio shack. If Phillips had somehow turned-up at the overturned lifeboat, surely Bride would have remembered it?
 
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Toma

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Who are the documented witnesses other than Harold Bride who claim to have seen Jack Phillips alive in the final minutes before the Titanic broke-up and sank? I mean all of those who claim to have seen him after 02:15, approximately the time he and Bride left the Marconi room and went their separate ways.

Somehow I find it difficult to believe Lightoller's statements about Phillips clinging on to Collapsible B for while and even conversing with the Second Officer before slipping into the icy Atlantic waters to his death. How well did Lightoller know the two 'Sparks'? Did he mistake Bride for Phillips? According to Bride, Phillips went aft and away from Collapsible B when the two left the radio shack. If Phillips had somehow turned-up at the overturned lifeboat, surely Bride would have remembered it?
Steward Thomas Whiteley also said that he had seen Phillips on a folding boat B. According to Whiteley, Phillips talked about ships going to help and at dawn Phillips died. Proceeding from the stories of Whiteley and Bryde, Phillips was taken aboard the Capratia, already dead, and he was buried at sea from the deck of Carpathia.
I do not think that Lightoller could mistake Phillips and Bryde. According to Lightoller, the radio operator STANDED before him. It seems to me that Bride could not stand - because he was lying on an upturned boat, because he had a leg injury.
Sorry for my bad english
 

Arun Vajpey

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But standing or lying down, Bride would have definitely noticed his colleague Phillips at some stage if the latter was also on board the over turned Collapsible B in whatever state of health. Furthermore, Bride had no reason to hide that fact - if indeed it had been a fact; what would be the point? If Phillips was anywhere near Collapsible B, Bride would not only have recognised him, but would have known that some others, among them Second Office Lightoller, would have done the same. The fact that Bride made no mention of Phillips near Collapsible B suggests to me that the senior 'spark' was never there in the first place.
 

Toma

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But standing or lying down, Bride would have definitely noticed his colleague Phillips at some stage if the latter was also on board the over turned Collapsible B in whatever state of health. Furthermore, Bride had no reason to hide that fact - if indeed it had been a fact; what would be the point? If Phillips was anywhere near Collapsible B, Bride would not only have recognised him, but would have known that some others, among them Second Office Lightoller, would have done the same. The fact that Bride made no mention of Phillips near Collapsible B suggests to me that the senior 'spark' was never there in the first place.
Maybe Bride in the dark just did not notice his colleague...
 

Arun Vajpey

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That is a good article and I believe the analysis therein. A lot of Titanic experts believe that Lightoller's book Titanic and Other Ships, written 22 years after the sinking, is heavily embellished and should the allowed the latitude normally given to an old sea dog reminiscing. I have the book and his statements about Phillips do sound convincing and almost certainly the source of the myth that the senior radio man was on top of the capsized Collapsible B. As for Bride, he says something about being "told" that Phillips was also there and yet during the hearing he speaks as though he actually saw him.

IMO, Phillips and Bride separated at around 02:15 am when they came out of the radio shack with the former going towards the apparent safety of the dry stern and Bride towards what was left of the bow section above water.
 
Nov 8, 2016
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This is something that has caused me great thought since becoming interested in Jack Phillips' story about 14 years ago. I used to completely believe Phillips was on collapsible B and simply died of exposure before Bride noticed he was there. However recently I'm not so sure Phillips ever made it to B. Bride said the last he saw of Phillips was on top of the officers quarters, Phillips walked aft on the roof and bride went to assist with Boat B. This would've been about 2:10, so just 10 minutes before the ship completely sank. Bride and Lightollers group eventually got "B" free and that's when the bow suddenly plunged, and a huge wave washed most of the people on deck into the sea. You'd think Phillips, being in that general area and seeing collapsible B, would've took his chances with the boat even if it was overturned.. There was also collapsible A on the strbd side at this time, maybe Phillips went to Boat A instead when the bow suddenly plunged. One thing to keep in mind however is that there was endless ways to get dead in this particular area of the ship at this time.

Capt Smith, Cheif Offcr Wilde, Murdoch, Lightoller and Moody were also in this area when the ship went down and only one of those men (Lights) was lucky enough to survive. It's either Phillips continued walking aft towards the stern or he stayed in the general area but was killed in the sinking by falling funnels, suction via ventilator shaft, explosion, drowning etc. One of the key things to remember is Phillips had a lifebelt on, and the fact his body wasn't recovered is curious.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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Good post. But IMO, it was closer to 02:15 am by the time Phillips and Bride left the radio shack, about a minute or so before the flooding reached a point when the Titanic suddenly lost its longitudinal stability and lurched forwards and downwards, resulting in that 'wave'. I think it is very likely that Phillips had gone aft towards the rising stern, to eventually get lost among the teeming hundreds there and die with them. It was just chance that Bride made the right choice in going towards the sinking bow section.

Looking at it another way, several people, Baker Joughin for example, remained at the rising stern end and survived, while others, like Milton Long took their chances near the bow and perished. It was just a matter of chance, being in the right spot at the right time. Worked out for some, did not for others.
 
May 3, 2005
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This is something that has caused me great thought since becoming interested in Jack Phillips' story about 14 years ago. I used to completely believe Phillips was on collapsible B and simply died of exposure before Bride noticed he was there. However recently I'm not so sure Phillips ever made it to B. Bride said the last he saw of Phillips was on top of the officers quarters, Phillips walked aft on the roof and bride went to assist with Boat B. This would've been about 2:10, so just 10 minutes before the ship completely sank. Bride and Lightollers group eventually got "B" free and that's when the bow suddenly plunged, and a huge wave washed most of the people on deck into the sea. You'd think Phillips, being in that general area and seeing collapsible B, would've took his chances with the boat even if it was overturned.. There was also collapsible A on the strbd side at this time, maybe Phillips went to Boat A instead when the bow suddenly plunged. One thing to keep in mind however is that there was endless ways to get dead in this particular area of the ship at this time.

Capt Smith, Cheif Offcr Wilde, Murdoch, Lightoller and Moody were also in this area when the ship went down and only one of those men (Lights) was lucky enough to survive. It's either Phillips continued walking aft towards the stern or he stayed in the general area but was killed in the sinking by falling funnels, suction via ventilator shaft, explosion, drowning etc. One of the key things to remember is Phillips had a lifebelt on, and the fact his body wasn't recovered is curious.
One version of the story was that Bride remarked that he had seen Philip's body still lying
in the boat as he (Bride) left the boat and started his climb to get aboard Carpathia.
 
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Good post. But IMO, it was closer to 02:15 am by the time Phillips and Bride left the radio shack, about a minute or so before the flooding reached a point when the Titanic suddenly lost its longitudinal stability and lurched forwards and downwards, resulting in that 'wave'. I think it is very likely that Phillips had gone aft towards the rising stern, to eventually get lost among the teeming hundreds there and die with them. It was just chance that Bride made the right choice in going towards the sinking bow section.

Looking at it another way, several people, Baker Joughin for example, remained at the rising stern end and survived, while others, like Milton Long took their chances near the bow and perished. It was just a matter of chance, being in the right spot at the right time. Worked out for some, did not for others.
This is entirely true, luck had a lot to do with those who survived those final moments and that night in general. We'll never how Phillips met his end but I think we can brainstorm on a few things, first of all: why would Phillips, who likely saw collapsible B, take his chances on the stern of a rapidly sinking and unstable ship rather than on said boat? I mean it was overturned, but it was still a lifeboat... I know hindsight is 20/20 and there was so much happening so fast at the time, but Phillips saw the lifeboat being pushed off. Why wouldn't he help like Bride did? I mean he was there in that general area as far we know. He saw the rising stern, and as Lightoller said, going aft would only postpone the immersion into ice cold seawater and the eventual search for a lifeboat to hopefully be pulled into. Phillips was already by a lifeboat, he saw it . Maybe Phillips did run aft at first but stayed in the general vicinity of the area and DID eventually help on collapsible B. Bride perhaps didn't notice him because as I said he saw him run aft, and he was too focused on dealing with the collapsible to divert his attention to look around and see who was helping with it, and there's also the lighting conditions of that night. I just think it would possibly make no sense for Phillips to go astern on a rapidly foundering ship when he has a lifeboat right in front of him. It is also possible that perhaps Phillips never saw collapsible B since the way Bride described it, it sounds like they exited the wireless shack together then Phillips walked one way and Bride went the other, and that was that.

It is possible that Phillips was on B and amid all the chaos and screaming Bride never noticed until being told about it, and by that time Phillips was already dead and fell off. If Phillips did make it to B, I don't think he lasted long and surely not til dawn like Whitley and Lightoller in his book says. I think if Phillips did last til dawn, Bride surely would've noticed by then.

Lastly as I said, I'm sure Phillips had a lifebelt on since him and Bride in fact went through all that trouble with the stoker to keep that lifebelt. Since this is the case, how was his body not found? It is possible his body just drifted away from the site and was never recovered, the ships sent to recover the dead only found about 328 bodies I believe. That opens up the question of how many people were actually in the water after the ship sank. Was it really 1500 people screaming, or was it closer to 400 and the other 1100 died in the sinking? We will never know .
 
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One version of the story was that Bride remarked that he had seen Philip's body still lying
in the boat as he (Bride) left the boat and started his climb to get aboard Carpathia.
Sorry about the double post, but yes I'm aware of this remark by Bride. However people usually discount it for whatever reason, I think they say Bride just assumed it was Phillips but didn't know for sure. My problem is why would he just assume it was Phillips if he knew what Phillips looked like. Wouldn't he see the dead body and realize it was Phillips ? If that's the case then why wasn't Phillips buried with the other 4 on the Carpathia? Was he maybe buried before ? So many questions in Titanic's story.
 
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This is entirely true, luck had a lot to do with those who survived those final moments and that night in general. We'll never how Phillips met his end but I think we can brainstorm on a few things, first of all: why would Phillips, who likely saw collapsible B, take his chances on the stern of a rapidly sinking and unstable ship rather than on said boat? I mean it was overturned, but it was still a lifeboat... I know hindsight is 20/20 and there was so much happening so fast at the time, but Phillips saw the lifeboat being pushed off. Why wouldn't he help like Bride did? I mean he was there in that general area as far we know. He saw the rising stern, and as Lightoller said, going aft would only postpone the immersion into ice cold seawater and the eventual search for a lifeboat to hopefully be pulled into. Phillips was already by a lifeboat, he saw it . Maybe Phillips did run aft at first but stayed in the general vicinity of the area and DID eventually help on collapsible B. Bride perhaps didn't notice him because as I said he saw him run aft, and he was too focused on dealing with the collapsible to divert his attention to look around and see who was helping with it, and there's also the lighting conditions of that night. I just think it would possibly make no sense for Phillips to go astern on a rapidly foundering ship when he has a lifeboat right in front of him. It is also possible that perhaps Phillips never saw collapsible B since the way Bride described it, it sounds like they exited the wireless shack together then Phillips walked one way and Bride went the other, and that was that.

It is possible that Phillips was on B and amid all the chaos and screaming Bride never noticed until being told about it, and by that time Phillips was already dead and fell off. If Phillips did make it to B, I don't think he lasted long and surely not til dawn like Whitley and Lightoller in his book says. I think if Phillips did last til dawn, Bride surely would've noticed by then.

Lastly as I said, I'm sure Phillips had a lifebelt on since him and Bride in fact went through all that trouble with the stoker to keep that lifebelt. Since this is the case, how was his body not found? It is possible his body just drifted away from the site and was never recovered, the ships sent to recover the dead only found about 328 bodies I believe. That opens up the question of how many people were actually in the water after the ship sank. Was it really 1500 people screaming, or was it closer to 400 and the other 1100 died in the sinking? We will never know .
I would think that all 1500 would eventually be in the water , one way or another , and died in the sinking.
 
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Well you know, I meant how many died actually on the ship while it was sinking, and how many died freezing to death in the water afterwards. One way or another, 1500 died.
 
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I think I understand what your question is ?
How many died on the ship , but still dry and out of the water while the ship was sinking , but different from those who later died when later frozen to death in the water afterwards ?
Good question !
Some could have died due to shock, heart failure, failure due to over-exertion , exposure to the cold , or any other reason before they actually came in contact with the freezing water ?
The total of those not in the lifeboats would have been 1500 any way.

One of the Harold Bride stories about Jack Phillips was that Jack Phillips did not die from the cold water but he was relatively dry and his death was due to the after effects of his CQD SOS operations, over exertions, fatigue and exposure to the cold.
 
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Aaron_2016

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Who are the documented witnesses other than Harold Bride who claim to have seen Jack Phillips alive in the final minutes before the Titanic broke-up and sank? I mean all of those who claim to have seen him after 02:15, approximately the time he and Bride left the Marconi room and went their separate ways.

Somehow I find it difficult to believe Lightoller's statements about Phillips clinging on to Collapsible B for while and even conversing with the Second Officer before slipping into the icy Atlantic waters to his death. How well did Lightoller know the two 'Sparks'? Did he mistake Bride for Phillips? According to Bride, Phillips went aft and away from Collapsible B when the two left the radio shack. If Phillips had somehow turned-up at the overturned lifeboat, surely Bride would have remembered it?
Harold Bride testified in America and mentioned the death of Phillips. Bride was asked:

Q - You say there were a number of people on the boat, on the bottom of the boat that was bottom-up when you got there?
A - Yes.
Q - Do you know any of them?
A - I heard afterwards that the senior operator was on board.
Q - Mr. Phillips?
A - Mr. Phillips.
Q - Was on the boat?
A - Yes; I heard so afterwards.
Q - He did not survive, however?
A - He did not survive.
Q - Do you know whether he died going from the Titanic to the Carpathia?
A - He died on the way; yes. He died on board the upturned boat.
Q - What became of his body?
A - As far as I know, it was taken on board the Carpathia and buried from the Carpathia.
Q - Buried at sea?
A - Buried from the Carpathia.

Bride also spoke of Phillips body in his exclusive interview to the New York Times in 1912.

"From aft came the tunes of the ship's band, playing the ragtime tune, 'Autumn. ' Phillips ran aft, and that was the last I ever saw of him alive............At last the Carpathia was alongside, and the people were being taken up a rope ladder. Our boat drew near, and one by one the men were taken off of it. One man was dead. I passed him, and went to a ladder, although my feet pained me terribly. The dead man was Phillips. He died on the raft from exposure and cold. I guess he had been all in from work before the wreck came. He stood his ground until the crisis passed and then collapsed. But I hardly thought of that then; I didn't think much about anything. I tried the rope ladder."

Lightoller wrote a book and claimed that he spoke to Phillips on the collapsible boat and that Phillips told him about the vital ice warning from the SS Mesaba which (according to Lightoller) was not sent to the bridge by accident. Lightoller was effectively accusing Phillips of negligence. Bride wrote an angry letter in 1936 shortly after Lightoller published his book. Bride condemned Lightoller's accusation, but he did not dispute in his letter that Phillips was on the collapsible.

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Mike Spooner

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In the small booklet of Jack Phillips from Godalming Museum.
There was a possibility Jack was just too exhausted to hang on the upside down lifeboat. As he had been up for many hours. 6 hours to fix the broken down wireless followed by hours in catching up with the back log of messages to be sent out.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Harold Bride testified in America and mentioned the death of Phillips. Bride was asked:

Q - You say there were a number of people on the boat, on the bottom of the boat that was bottom-up when you got there?
A - Yes.
Q - Do you know any of them?
A - I heard afterwards that the senior operator was on board.
Q - Mr. Phillips?
A - Mr. Phillips.
Q - Was on the boat?
A - Yes; I heard so afterwards.

Q - He did not survive, however?
A - He did not survive.
Q - Do you know whether he died going from the Titanic to the Carpathia?
A - He died on the way; yes. He died on board the upturned boat.
Q - What became of his body?
A - As far as I know, it was taken on board the Carpathia and buried from the Carpathia.
Q - Buried at sea?
A - Buried from the Carpathia.

Bride also spoke of Phillips body in his exclusive interview to the New York Times in 1912.

"From aft came the tunes of the ship's band, playing the ragtime tune, 'Autumn. ' Phillips ran aft, and that was the last I ever saw of him alive............At last the Carpathia was alongside, and the people were being taken up a rope ladder. Our boat drew near, and one by one the men were taken off of it. One man was dead. I passed him, and went to a ladder, although my feet pained me terribly. The dead man was Phillips. He died on the raft from exposure and cold. I guess he had been all in from work before the wreck came. He stood his ground until the crisis passed and then collapsed. But I hardly thought of that then; I didn't think much about anything. I tried the rope ladder."

Lightoller wrote a book and claimed that he spoke to Phillips on the collapsible boat and that Phillips told him about the vital ice warning from the SS Mesaba which (according to Lightoller) was not sent to the bridge by accident. Lightoller was effectively accusing Phillips of negligence. Bride wrote an angry letter in 1936 shortly after Lightoller published his book. Bride condemned Lightoller's accusation, but he did not dispute in his letter that Phillips was on the collapsible.
It seems to me that there is more than a bit of ambiguity in Bride's statements about seeing Phillips body on Collapsible B.

First, he is supposed to have said that he just "heard afterwards" that Phillips was on board the overturned lifeboat. Then he adds that 'as far as he knows' Phillips' body was taken on board the Carpathia and buried at sea from there. That sounds like he did not know for certain himself about Phillips being anywhere near Collapsible B

But then, he also says that he passed Phillips' body as he tried to get onto the ladder to board the Carpathia. That is a direct contradiction from the above impression.

As for Lightoller's 1935 book (Titanic and Other Ships) and Bride's letter in response, not contradicting a certain point (Phillips being on Collapsible B) does not mean he was agreeing with it.

But Bride did say that when they came out of their Radio shack, Phillips 'ran aft' while he himself went forward and ended-up near Collapsible B. I think for both of them it was just a chanced on the spot decision that paid off for one (Bride) and did not for the other (Phillips). They were inside the Radio shack through the ordeal sending out messages and very likely had very little clear idea about what was going on outside on the boat deck and elsewhere. It must have been very close to 02:15 when they came out of the room and split-up going opposite ways. I don't think that there was any time left for either of them to change their minds afterwards.

Another thing that I have thought a few times and something that is not clear in the deckplans. When Bride and Phillips came out of the Marconi room, on which side of the boat deck did they emerge? On the plans it seems as though the door of the Marconi room opened into a small corridor that ran broadside and if this was the case, they could have turned either way. Turning left would have taken them to the port side of the boat deck and turning right to starboard; if that was the case, would they have instinctively gone towards the listing port side, where Collapsible B was located? Also, with all the intervening structures and people, would either Bride or Phillips have been able to see people trying to free the two collapsibles? Boats A & B were lashed on top of the Officer's quarters which seem on the plans to be some way forward from the Marconi room and I felt that it was unlikely that the two radio operators would have seen Collapsible B "right in front of them" even if they had gone to the port side of the boat deck.
 
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Julian Atkins

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There are a number of versions of Bride's 'story'.

Aaron has very usefully posted the letter Bride wrote to the newspapers when Lightoller's autobiography was first published in 1935. Paul Lee covers this in some considerable detail on his website, and the clear inference is that Marconi Co threatened legal action and the text of the book was altered by the publishers (which is a bit odd in that you can't libel the dead).

There is also Bride's written report to Marconi Co at the time - which I think is generally regarded as the most accurate of his accounts.

He also was infamously paid for the New York Times newspaper interview when Carpathia got to New York, that is the most 'sensationalist' account.

He was recalled as a witness at both Inquiries a number of times.

Bride was not a very reliable witness at any time.

I don't think you can better the Iink Ioannis provided of George Behe's analysis:-

The Fate of Jack Phillips

It is well worth reading.

Unfortunately, the simple answer is that Phillips and Bride lost contact and Bride never saw Phillips again, and Phillips' body was never recovered.

(Allegedly Bride gave a very rare interview to a certain Ernest Robinson in 1954, but this has never been published to the best of my knowledge).

Cheers,

Julian