Titanic-Californian wireless message


Arun Vajpey

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It is well known that at 11:07 on Sunday 14th April 1912, Cyril Evans, the wireless operator of the Californian sent the following message to the Titanic:

“MGY this is MWL. We are stopped and surrounded by ice.”

Phillips on Titanic was busy working Cape Race (MCE) at the time, and told Evans to “Keep out”. But many accounts say that Phillips actually exclaimed "Shut up! Shut up!! I'm working Cape Race! Keep out!"

What I want to know is whether there is any evidence that Phillips actually told Evans to shut up? If so, would Evans have reported this rebuff to Captain Lord?
 

Julian Atkins

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Hi Arun,

Have a look at p.119 of Sam's new book, and the footnote 2 on p.141

Evans did not tell Captain Lord about this till the next day.

Cheers,

Julian
 
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Arun Vajpey

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Thanks Julian. I looked those up; I had somehow missed the footnote before (age, I guess ;) ). I had not known that [DDD] in Sparks' lingo meant 'shut-up' and so Phillips did say so. I assume the Cape Race message that he was sending was a private one and so in a sense, Phillips had neglected in his duty even though Evans' message was op-to-op and not a prioritized MSG. The content of Evans' message was clearly important and so Phillips has to take responsibility for not following that through.
 
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I think Evans actually played it well. It was not all the uncommon in those days for an operator to tell another to wait or to shut up. I've also read they would sometimes get mad and purposefully try to jam each other. Sort of their version of modern DOS attack today.
 

Arun Vajpey

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It was not all the uncommon in those days for an operator to tell another to wait or to shut up. I've also read they would sometimes get mad and purposefully try to jam each other.
Wow! I did not know that! I always thought that people working in that kind of jobs are always professional and never let emotions get the better of them whatever the provocation. Like Air Traffic Controllers for example. When you know that losing your control could affect innocent third parties......you know what I mean.
 

Rob Lawes

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The problem these chaps faced regarding transmission of signals would have been horrendous compared to today's modern sets.

The signal would have been extremely noisy with a wide bandwidth made up of harmonics (basically echoes at frequencies either side of the main signal). If you were listening to the noise on a pair of headphones you would have heard ghosting of signals coming and going, ship and atmospheric interference and all kinds of noise.

The effects of radio wave propagation were not well understood at the time and we know that it was an unusual night with a high amount of electro-magnetic interference due to the Northern lights being observed later that night and from the fact that unusually high radio ranges were being achieved.

It is usual that due to the changing shape of the ionosphere at night lower frequencies would achieve greater ranges. I believe Titanic was operating between 500 KHz and 1Mhz.

With Phillips straining into his headphones to hear the capes acknowledgment of his transmissions Californian, which would have had Titanic inside its radio horizon in ground and sky waves, would have given Phillips quite a jump when Evans started to broadcast.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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With Phillips straining into his headphones to hear the capes acknowledgment of his transmissions Californian, which would have had Titanic inside its radio horizon in ground and sky waves, would have given Phillips quite a jump when Evans started to broadcast.

Ken Griffith, the Welsh actor who played Phillips in the 1958 film A Night To Remember, gave a superb natural looking 'jump' when Evans' signal came in.
 
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Wow! I did not know that! I always thought that people working in that kind of jobs are always professional and never let emotions get the better of them whatever the provocation. Like Air Traffic Controllers for example. When you know that losing your control could affect innocent third parties......you know what I mean.
Naw...they'er human like everyone else and sometimes have a bad day. I've heard pilots and ATC go at each other. Cussing and swearing at each other. Doesn't happen often at least from my experiance but I've heard some doozies flying into/out of Vegas. I'm sure it was the same with the radio operators in 1912. The hardest part of flying for me was always the radio work. Flying into Class C airspace was no fun for me.
 

lucykathleen

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Thanks Julian. I looked those up; I had somehow missed the footnote before (age, I guess ;) ). I had not known that [DDD] in Sparks' lingo meant 'shut-up' and so Phillips did say so. I assume the Cape Race message that he was sending was a private one and so in a sense, Phillips had neglected in his duty even though Evans' message was op-to-op and not a prioritized MSG. The content of Evans' message was clearly important and so Phillips has to take responsibility for not following that through.


jack philips talked with cape race . distress call titanic. first a 14 old boy heard it...
 
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Julian Atkins

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I think this whole aspect of the disaster needs revisiting, as I have since read Parks Stephenson's treatise on all of this.

We could really do with a time line of the news reports sent by Cape Race and what wavelength you had to adjust to of the 2 in use. Cottam and Evans both stated they overheard 'private' ie commercial paid for messages from Cape Race being sent to Titanic.

I haven't checked anything tonight, but I would presume that Cottam and Evans altered their wavelength to transmit to Titanic? Then Evans reverted back to the wavelength he was listening to Cape Race on after the 'DDD' before he went to bed some 30 minutes later, and perhaps coinciding with the clockwork running down on his receiver?

If you piece together the 'jig saw' of Marconigram messages, there is a lot that is not explained or recorded. Sutherland, Marconi operator on the Parisian, had ceased transmitting and gone to bed some 2 hours 30 minutes before Cottam heard the CQD from Titanic - so why was Cottam still up purportedly waiting for a message from Sutherland on the Parisian?

Cheers,

Julian
 
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jack philips talked with cape race . distress call titanic. first a 14 old boy heard it...
If I had read that before I had forgotten it. Had to go look it up. He could very well be the first to hear it at the Cape race station. But also hard to prove. Over the years many stations have claimed they were the first to hear Titanic that night. The logical assumption to me would be that many heard it at the same time...minus a few a micro seconds due to distance. Anyway an article below about the 14 year old who heard Titanic. Thanks.
 

lucykathleen

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I think this whole aspect of the disaster needs revisiting, as I have since read Parks Stephenson's treatise on all of this.

We could really do with a time line of the news reports sent by Cape Race and what wavelength you had to adjust to of the 2 in use. Cottam and Evans both stated they overheard 'private' ie commercial paid for messages from Cape Race being sent to Titanic.

I haven't checked anything tonight, but I would presume that Cottam and Evans altered their wavelength to transmit to Titanic? Then Evans reverted back to the wavelength he was listening to Cape Race on after the 'DDD' before he went to bed some 30 minutes later, and perhaps coinciding with the clockwork running down on his receiver?

If you piece together the 'jig saw' of Marconigram messages, there is a lot that is not explained or recorded. Sutherland, Marconi operator on the Parisian, had ceased transmitting and gone to bed some 2 hours 30 minutes before Cottam heard the CQD from Titanic - so why was Cottam still up purportedly waiting for a message from Sutherland on the Parisian?

Cheers,

Julian


haves you the messages
 

Elr James

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May 10, 2020
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It is well known that at 11:07 on Sunday 14th April 1912, Cyril Evans, the wireless operator of the Californian sent the following message to the Titanic:

“MGY this is MWL. We are stopped and surrounded by ice.”

Phillips on Titanic was busy working Cape Race (MCE) at the time, and told Evans to “Keep out”. But many accounts say that Phillips actually exclaimed "Shut up! Shut up!! I'm working Cape Race! Keep out!"

What I want to know is whether there is any evidence that Phillips actually told Evans to shut up? If so, would Evans have reported this rebuff to Captain Lord?
There's a discussion about it here. Seems a bit superfluous (and a waste of time) to morse 'shut up' after already sending 'keep out'.
 
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I would presume that Cottam and Evans altered their wavelength to transmit to Titanic?
Why? The standard wavelength for ship-to-ship stations was 600m. Cape Race would also use that wavelength for communicating messages with ship stations. Evans obviously didn't listen before barging in on Phillip's communications with Cape Race which interrupted Phillip's ability to hear the Cape Race message that was then being sent. Therefore, his quick DDD reprimand to Evans. The problem is that the message from Evans should have been prefixed with an MSG and it should have contained a position report. Otherwise, it was simply one operator chatting with another which had the lowest priority.

What I find interesting is that Lord would not budge after finding out informally from operator-to-operator messages that Titanic had sunk or was sinking when communications was established Monday morning even though Titanic's position was given in those messages from Mount Temple and Frankfurt. Lord insisted on getting an MSG from Capt. Gambell of Virginian before moving his vessel. Yet, the night before, it seems he was being very casual in telling Evans to tell Titanic they they were stopped because of ice.
 

Julian Atkins

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Hi Sam,

Not sure I agree with you on your first paragraph above, but suitably admonished if I am wrong!

We both have Booth's book with the pic of the original Marconigram sent by The Californian to The Antillian earlier that evening - written out in Captain Lord's own distinctive handwriting and with the remainder in Evan's hand. It is to my mind a most remarkable and important document, and the subsequent 'slackness' for the warning of ice to Titanic does seem odd around 11pm.

Cheers,

Julian
 

lucykathleen

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There's a discussion about it here. Seems a bit superfluous (and a waste of time) to morse 'shut up' after already sending 'keep out'.



can you send me the link
 

lucykathleen

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Hi Sam,

Not sure I agree with you on your first paragraph above, but suitably admonished if I am wrong!

We both have Booth's book with the pic of the original Marconigram sent by The Californian to The Antillian earlier that evening - written out in Captain Lord's own distinctive handwriting and with the remainder in Evan's hand. It is to my mind a most remarkable and important document, and the subsequent 'slackness' for the warning of ice to Titanic does seem odd around 11pm.

Cheers,

Julian


can send me a picture
 

Julian Atkins

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Lucykathleen,

(What lovely names; my eldest daughter is 'Lucy Elizabeth')

I will endeavour to do so, as I regard it as a most significant document, unless Sam beats me to it!

Cheers,

Julian
 
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Julian Atkins

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Here we go!
 

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