Jack Phillips' final moments

Julian Atkins

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Hi Sam,

Well, according to Lightoller, had he been made aware of the Mesaba message it would have made a lot of difference ergo to him. Had he known of the Baltic message delivered to Captain Smith but then kept in various pockets for a considerable time, the swashbuckling Lightoller might have had a different conversation with Captain Smith later that evening on the 14th.

There is no evidence that the Baltic message was posted in the chart room or on the chart. Lightholler also denies any knowledge of it and only admits to knowledge of the Caronia ice report MSG.

If we assume the Baltic message was not made known to the Officers of Titanic by Captain Smith not dealing with it properly and giving it to Ismay for a very long time (of which there is some substantial primary source evidence), then it is perfectly logical that Lightholler would regard in retrospect the Mesaba message as important (and by implication the Baltic message more so - but that required him impugning Captain Smith).

Consider the following hypothetical scenario:-

Around 9pm on Titanic's bridge...

Captain Smith to Lightoller "I've got a Marconi message from the Baltic some 7 hours ago that I haven't told you about in my pocket - we are on course to meet ice bergs and field ice later on within a few miles of us"

Lightoller replies "ICE BERGS! Within a few miles of us! Not just some ICE?!" "Why didn't you tell this to us earlier and post it on the chart room and chart?"

Captain Smith "Because I gave the message to Mr Ismay"

Again, hypothetically, a concerned Lightoller goes immediately to the Marconi Wireless Room to question Phillips/Bride exactly what messages have been received concerning ice etc that day, and receives a wadge of messages and reads the PV indicating multiple warnings of ice and ice bergs relatively close to Titanic's course that have not been sent to the bridge, and have not as a consequence been posted in the chart room.

This is not idle speculation on my part and if you read the original of Lightoller's autobiography he is highly critical of Phillips suppressing the Mesaba message that ties in with his Inquiry and Ryan case testimony.

It is not enough to state Captain Smith knew via the Baltic message he was steaming at full speed into ice etc. One must also consider this message was likely as not never put on the chart room chart or posted at all, and all the Titanic Officers had no knowledge of it till those Officers who survived were appraised of it at the British Inquiry in full, and in part at the USA Inquiry.

Cheers,
Julian
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Your scenario Julian somewhat reminds me of what Stone said: " ...and [ I ] informed the master and left him to judge." But in this case Smith was informed about ice ahead, having received several reports throughout the day, was obviously not concerned enough to do anything differently about it, and had a conversation with Lightoller between 9 and 9:30 pm about what to expect as they were about to enter the ice region if Lightoller's account is to be believed. My point is that they expected to be up to the ice and any moment, and Smith decided that the best course of action is to continue ahead until the danger was seen before taking an kind of evasive action. All those ice reports were fairly general in scope, and one cannot say that Titanic's watch officer's had no idea of what danger lurked ahead. Lightoller's 9:30 time for reaching the ice was based on the Caronia message. Moody's 11pm time seems to be based on the Baltic information. But none of that mattered. What Smith and Lightoller talked about was standard operating procedure. They fully expected to be able to see danger in time to avoid unless seeing conditions conditions degraded beforehand, in which the SOP called for the OOW to call the captain and slow down the vessel. Do you really think Lightoller or Murdoch would have tried to convince Smith to do differently at that time? I don't think so. In retrospect, it is easy for anyone to say things like, "if only I would have known, I would have done things differently." What they didn't know was that you really cannot see an iceberg 2 miles away, let alone a growler, like Lightoller assumed. Yet, when according to Lightoller, he and Smith talked about approaching the ice region:

He [Smith] said, “There is not much wind.” I said, “No, it is a flat calm as a matter of fact.” He repeated it; he said, “A flat calm.” I said, “Yes, quite flat, there is no wind.” I said something about it was rather a pity the breeze had not kept up whilst we were going through the ice region. Of course, my reason was obvious; he knew I meant the water ripples breaking on the base of the berg...
I remember saying, “In any case there will be a certain amount of reflected lights from the bergs.” He said, “Oh, yes, there will be a certain amount of reflected light.” I said, or he said; blue was said between us - that even though the blue side of the berg was towards us, probably the outline, the white outline would give us sufficient warning, that we should be able to see it at a good distance, and, as far as we could see, we should be able to see it. Of course it was just with regard to that possibility of the blue side being towards us, and that if it did happen to be turned with the purely blue side towards us, there would still be the white outline."

So what would have been different if they had more information about ice ahead? Nothing. They knew enough to be somewhat concerned about the difficulty of seeing ice in the flat conditions of the sea that night, yet nothing was done differently. No increased lookouts on the forecastle head or on the bridge, no ringing of standby down to the engine room just in case, in fact Smith was so confident in the abilities of the lookouts and the OOW to see and avoid anything in time, that he didn't even stay out on the bridge with his OOW knowing that ice might be spotted at any moment.

I personally don't buy anything that Lightoller said afterward about 'if they only knew this or that'. They knew all that they really needed to know, and it was ultimately Smith's decision as how to proceed. In addition to the conversation with Lightoller on the bridge between 9 and 9:30, Smith left instructions in the night order book that is initialed by every watch officer when the come on deck about keeping a sharp look out for ice.
 
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Julian Atkins

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Hi Sam,

I take on board entirely your points persuasively argued.

However, Stone was nothing like Lightoller in character and disposition. I would myself imagine that if anyone would question Captain Smith, Lightoller is one of the few we know enough about to do just this.

I would submit that had Lightoller known of the Baltic message, and the Mesaba message, and had he also known of all the other messages including the Mesaba message and countless others that Phillips and Bride failed to deliver to the bridge, then the purported 9pm conversation on the bridge between Captain Smith and Lightoller might have been quite different to that which Lightoller related.

In any event I consider this conversation by it's content to have been very brief - perhaps 5 minutes at the most, if it happened at all.

But I am veering off into matters that I really know very little about, other than to add a bit of a gloss to Paul Lee's own research


Cheers,
Julian

(Edit - apologies - typo error corrected adding 'know' in 4th line)
 
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Scott Mills

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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.
Here is the thing--we will likely never know. The last 10 minutes of Titanic's life were very chaotic. Yes, Bride stated he say Phillips head aft; however, Bride was immediately involved in the commotion of trying to free collapsible B from the deck, all while hopeful passengers who were not assisting mulled about the deck, all of which was occurring around the time of the reported 'great rush' of third class passengers. Then of course, Titanic's plunge began. So it could be Bride actually saw Phillips go aft, or Bride could have lost Phillips in the commotion and just assumed he went aft, or Bride could have seen Phillips go aft, only for Phillips to--after changing his mind, or being blocked by a mass of people--come back to the area of collapsible B.

The same goes for those who were actually on collapsible B after Titanic foundered. There may have been upwards of 30 men at one point trying to balance on the back of that boat. These men would have been struggling in the dark to keep that boat from capsizing, while surrounded by the screams and cries of hundreds. Given that, it is perfectly reasonable to me to think someone on one end of the boat might have no idea who was on the other--particularly if that person was injured. Once on that boat, if something did not happen right next to you, you were probably too focused on staying alive to take note of the identities of the people who were giving into the cold, falling off the boat, and floating away.

Edit

For example, take Frederick Hoyt and his wife. Mrs. Hoyt was put into collapsible D, the last boat to be lowered from the port side. Her husband then watched the boat leave, calculated where it would end up, jumped into the North Atlantic and swam to collapsible D, which picked him up. Despite this, Mrs. Hoyt had no idea that her husband had been saved until they were aboard Carpathia. If this could happen on a boat that was launched successful with roughly 30 people on her, would it really surprise you that, had Phillips made it onto collapsible B, Bride may not have had any idea?
 
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Mike Spooner

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What ever is said about Jack Phillips. He been well total exhausted and lacking in strength to get onto the turnup lifeboat. After all he was lacking in sleep having to fix the broken down wireless for six hours, then having to catch up with the back log of messages for the first class passengers. After all that is what he is payed for!
But the biggest deserves he must be recognise for, that he fixed the broken wireless! Without that the CQD or SOS messages would never been sent out. The 700 who did survived would of never be found in time.
If ones has ever visited Godalming Town in Surrey, his Memorial Cloister has to be the largest single Memorial for any whom died on the Titanic.
Jack was the true hero for the 700 who survived to tell the story!
 

Julian Atkins

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Hello Mike,

You do continue to spout utter simplistic nonsense on here.

So what if there is a nice memorial to Phillips in Godalming?

So what if he stayed up part of the night of the 13th to do a repair to the Marconi apparatus?

[The greater part of this time related by Bride was Phillips's own duty anyway; and it was Bride who lost his sleep]

Bride and Phillips had very little to do apart from twiddle their thumbs until they (actually Phillips, after a long rest and mutual re-arrangement of shifts with Bride) got in contact with Cape Race on the evening of the 14th. From what I can gleen from Titanic's Marconi messages on the 14th, daytime, there were some very big gaps in messages, which to me indicates Phillips and Bride had very little to do and were resting during the day.

Cheers,

Julian
 

Mike Spooner

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Hello Juian,
What ever insults you try to throw at the wireless operators and seem to got into them trying to blame them for there lack of corporation with the bridge. They will remain my heroes for the 700 who survived. With out that wireless which not a standard requirement by the Board of Trade regulations all been lost.
Like I have said before we are dealing with two different companies. Marconi and White Star. If Marconi was a poor performing company why haven't they been given the push. After all I have yet to hear of any complaints of the 9 returning crossing on the Olympic.
What I think we should looking at, was the officers and captain working as a team? When I look at the short notice of officers put to getter at Southampton. Then look at their ages different. Henry Wilde and William Murdoch 39. Charles Lightoller 38.
Herbert Pitman 34. Joseph Boxhall 28. Herbert Lowe 29. James Moody 24. Captain EJ Smith 62. I can see Smith has over 20 years on them. Truly in a class of his own for experience. Who dares question the captain judgement!
Just my thoughts of the day.
 

Seumas

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Why do you frequently regurgitate tons of basic information that everyone else is familiar with from years and years of reading books on the subject and clearly do not need to be reminded of ?
 

Mike Spooner

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Let me make it clear. I have no relatives or friends connection with the Marconi wireless company. But when somebody try's to attacks or makes out there not doing there job properly, I will always come to their defence for them. They were true professional skilled tradesmen doing there job as paid for.
If one wants to point out the importance of there service to the bridge. Why haven't they install a telephone to the bridge?
 
Mar 22, 2003
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But the biggest deserves he must be recognise for, that he fixed the broken wireless!
That does not make someone a hero. No more so than saying that Marconi was a hero for his inventions, or that Heinrich Rudolf Herz was a hero for discovering electromagnetic waves in the first place. A hero is one who is distinguished by exceptional courage. Bride and Phillips stayed at their post long after Smith released them. That's heroic. Fixing a piece of broken machinery had no part in heroism. It was part of their job, and everyone who survived was very fortunate that they succeeded.
 
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Mike Spooner

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Mmm Is a hero to become a heroic!
21 Apr 2018 - The rarely told story of Jack Phillips, the Titanic hero from Surrey .... While many people know of Jack's heroism !
The other two Marconi hero or heroic I forgot to included. Harold Cottam of Carpathia and Giuseppe Marconi. You are right about Heinrich Rudolf Herz. But it was G Marconi who got the wireless service up and running on ships by 1900. Without that wireless all chance the 700 would have perished in the frizzing cold weather.
 

Seumas

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Mmm Is a hero to become a heroic!
21 Apr 2018 - The rarely told story of Jack Phillips, the Titanic hero from Surrey .... While many people know of Jack's heroism !
The other two Marconi hero or heroic I forgot to included. Harold Cottam of Carpathia and Giuseppe Marconi. You are right about Heinrich Rudolf Herz. But it was G Marconi who got the wireless service up and running on ships by 1900. Without that wireless all chance the 700 would have perished in the frizzing cold weather.
Who on earth is "Giuseppe Marconi" ?

I believe you meant Guglielmo Marconi.

Mmm Is a hero to become a heroic!

Eh ?

I can't be alone in losing patience with these random posts of utter gibberish surely ?
 
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Scott Mills

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I mean, okay, I get that sentiment; however, the poster's first language is clearly not English and he seems to be doing a lot better with English than I probably could with his language. Now, having said that, I get why it is frustrating... still I cannot help but feel a big part of the problem is us and he being lost in translation.
 

Mark Baber

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Moderator's hat on:

OK, folks. Let's get back to substance and not personalities.

Moderator's hat off.
 

Mike Spooner

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Who on earth is "Giuseppe Marconi" ?

I believe you meant Guglielmo Marconi.

Mmm Is a hero to become a heroic!

Eh ?

I can't be alone in losing patience with these random posts of utter gibberish surely ?
Yes my mistake Giuseppe was his father.
The thread is Jack Phillips final moments. Quite frankly has been discussed many times before with no 100% answer.
I see I may of not made my point not very clear? But I do feel annoyed when someone tries to criticise and find fault with him doing his job under difficult circumstances.
What I should of said. If wasn't for the wireless install and not the Board of Trades requirement, all lives would of been lost.
The HERO is what the local newspapers describe as he was for Titanic.
Do I feel he acted like a hero? Yes I do.
 

Seumas

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Who exactly is finding fault with what he was doing ?

He did his job, everyone recognises that.

The whole subject of X, Y & Z were heroes/villains of the Titanic disaster has been done a hundred thousand times before and usually reaches the same conclusions. There is nothing more to be gained by discussing it.