The Paperweight Message


Dec 4, 2000
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C.H. Lightoller made famous the ice warning placed under a paperweight in the Marconi office and not delivered to Titanic's bridge. The story is widely quoted from his autobiography.

However, is there any first-hand, eyewitness corroboration of this story? I'm looking for a quotation from a survivor who verified from personal knowledge (and not repetition of what somebody else said) that the paperweight (or spindle) not only existed, but that the ice message from the steamer Messaba was really put under or on it.

Any suggestions as to other sources beyond Lightoller for this story?
 
Mar 3, 1998
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No, and I'm not certain of how Lightoller would know. The assumption, of course, is that Bride told him as much on the Carpathia.

I don't see the relevance, either way. The Mesaba message was not coded for the Master's immediate attention. Without that priority code, Phillips was required to first attend to the traffic for which his company employed him...that of the passengers' paid messages. Whether he used a paperweight or not, Phillips was doing his job by holding onto the message until his higher-priority work was completed. Naturally, the Titanic disaster would highlight the flaw in this system and the message-handling rules were immediately changed to give all messages relating to the ship's navigation an automatic priority. What seems like common sense to us today (Phillips deciding the priority of the message on his own) would have been a breach of Marconi Company policy and Postmaster-General regulations before the Titanic sank.

Parks
 

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