Wireless Operator's Working Arrangements

Oct 14, 2003
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Did Jack and Harold have set times to do their job ? Did they alternate and if they did so, does anyone know of this schedule? Did they eat in the Officer's Mess with the Officers and did those who ate there have to preorder their food? If so then what happens when they've only got a half hour to order and eat their meal?
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Hi Christa,

Jack and Harold would have eaten in the Postal Workers and Marconi Operators Saloon, which was located on C-deck just forward of the Maids and Valets Saloon.

I hope that helps.
 
Oct 14, 2003
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Thanks Lester, I never knew that!

Do you know if they had set schedules or when they alternated or anything like that?

I know Charles Lightoller said that they had rather a long menu to choose from. Did they order their food when they got there then? Also, Charles relieves Murdoch for lunch, do you know when abouts they had lunch (including the junior officers) and who relieved who?

You have been a great help!

Christa.
 

Dave Gittins

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Phillips and Bride worked out their working hours and meal breaks between themselves. Phillips did most of the work and Bride was very much a back-up. Bride usually took the small hours of the morning after sleeping in the early part of the night. It was all quite informal.
 
Nov 11, 2005
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Alright, i deemed this the more appropriate place to place this.
I read in a book (correct me please if i am wrong) that during the sinking of Titanic a "fight" broke out with Phillips and Bride against another crew.
Apparently, Bride shot "one black coward" (a member of crew, possibly greaser, fireman or such) in the back of the head, to protect Phillips. This "coward" had tried to stab Phillips and steal his life jacket. Somehow in the end, Phillips was unconscious and the "coward was left in the wireless coop. Bride, assumed, was trying to drag Phillips out.

In defence, Bride had stated "I had to do it".
Does anyone know the truth in this matter?

I read this in the book "Sinking of the Titanic, Eyewitness Accounts"
Edited by Jay Henry Mowbary.
 
May 3, 2005
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In ANTR, a crewman, possibly a stoker, steals into the Marconi Room and tries to take Phillips'
lifejacket. Bride holds the stoker while Phillips clubs him. The stoker is left lying on the floor ...either dead or unconscious...and Phillips and Bride leave the Marconi Room...neither of them were injured.
 
May 3, 2005
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>>Phillips and Bride worked out their working hours and meal breaks between themselves. Phillips did most of the work and Bride was very much a back-up. Bride usually took the small hours of the morning after sleeping in the early part of the night. It was all quite informal.<<

I should hope after nearly 50 years I am beyond the statutes of limitations and won't be court-martialed for this. LOL.

On our Electronic Technicians division (no more than 15 assigned at one time to the division) on our ship the "midnight to eight shift" in addition to duty hours, meal hours, etc. was informal and worked out between the crew members. Usually one man would set up a cot in the Auxiliary Radio Room with the telephone at the head of the cot. If he received a call for any trouble on any of the electronics equipment he would either attend to it himself or go below to the crew quarters and wake up the person involved with that equipment...radio, radar, etc.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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For whatever it may be worth, Mr. Bride submitted the following statement to the U.S. Senate Inquiry on this. From the statement:
quote:

Leaving Mr. Phillips operating, I went to our sleeping cabin, and got all our money together, returning to find a fireman or coal trimmer gently relieving Mr. Phillips of his lifebelt. There immediately followed a general scrimmage with the three of us.

I regret to say that we left to hurriedly to take the man in question with us, and without a doubt he sank with the ship in the Marconi cabin as we left him.
The full statement may be viewed at http://www.titanicinquiry.org/USInq/AmInq14Bride01.php

At the Mersey Wreck Commission, he offered the following testimony:
quote:

16773. When you returned to the marconi room on the last occasion did anything unusual occur?
- We had a lady inside there who was in a fainting condition, sitting down in a chair.

16774. Have you made a statement at any time that you found Mr. Phillips being attacked or his lifebelt being removed?
- Someone was taking the lifebelt off Phillips when I left the cabin.

16775. Do I understand you to state that you thought it was a stoker who was taking this lifebelt off Mr. Phillips?
- I presumed from the appearance of the man that he was someone in that line of business.

16776. This would have been a few minutes before you left the room?
- Yes.

16777. Was he dressed in stoker's gear?
- Yes.

16778. Do I understand that you hit him, or what?
- Well, we stopped him from taking the lifebelt off.

16779. "We," you say?
- Yes.

16780. I understood the report was that Mr. Phillips was engaged at this time with his work?
- Yes.

16781. Sending messages; and that you forced this man away?
- Well, I forced the man away and it attracted Mr. Phillips's attention, and he came and assisted me.

16782. Is your recollection of this matter very clear?
- It is fairly clear.

16783. Would you know the man again if you saw him?
- I am not likely to see him.

16784. You are supposed to have hit him?
- Well, I held him and Mr. Phillips hit him.

16785. Mr. Phillips hit him?
- Yes.

16786. That is the difference between what you say and what I read. You are absolutely positive on this question?
- I am positive on it, yes.
No gunfire involved. Just good old fashioned fists.​
 
This is one of the situations that is fairly new to me. I suppose there are a lot of them involving the "goings-on" of that night. I never knew that Mr. Bride actually testified to the fact. My question is would Mr. Bride have any reason to lie about being the one to hit him? Mr. Phillips had passed on, so it seems to me that if there were a chance for him to be "in trouble" he would pin it on someone that also died. Is that a ridiculous question? lol Or does that even make sense?

Thanks for your input,
Kendra
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I never knew that Mr. Bride actually testified to the fact.<<

The inquiries themselves are a very useful resource. Often as not, they cut through a lot of sensationalism by going right to what the source of a particular story actually said as opposed to what some rag claimed they said.

>>My question is would Mr. Bride have any reason to lie about being the one to hit him?<<

Not that I'm aware of. Since the only one who can possibly answer that question is no longer available to answer, I'm not aware of any way to know.
 

Dave Gittins

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Bride was a very bad witness. Here's a bit of my book.

"In his New York Times story, Bride had included an incident he did not mention to the enquiry. Shortly before Titanic sank, ‘a stoker, or somebody from below decks’ had entered the radio room and had attempted to remove the lifebelt that John Phillips was wearing. According to Bride, this attack on his brave colleague so enraged him that he ‘...suddenly felt a passion not to let that man die a decent sailor’s death.' Regardless of his own small stature, Bride had furiously attacked the offender and knocked him senseless. Bride concluded, ‘I did my duty. I hope I finished him. I don’t know. We left him on the cabin floor of the wireless room, and he was not moving.’

Perhaps Bride felt that his story had been exaggerated by the press or he may have realised that it amounted to a confession to murder. In his letter to Cross, he toned down the tale and expressed regret for the man who, in the New York Times version, ‘...should have stretched rope or walked the plank.' The deadly attack became ‘a general scrimmage with the three of us.’ In London the story would change once more."

The London version is posted above. None of Bride's stories mention a gun.
 
Oct 14, 2009
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Thanks for the info! I didn't know that Bride had altered his account on this. I agree with you on the gun--everything indicates that the officers were the only ones with access to them.

Bride does seem like a headstrong and, at times, arrogant personality, evidenced by his testimony concerning the Frankfurt exchange while the Titanic was sinking, when Phillips had called the wireless operator on the Frankfurt a fool:

Sen.Smith: In such an emergency, do you not think that a more detailed statement might have been sent? Take, for instance, the message from the Titanic to the Carpathia that the boiler rooms were filling with water and the ship sinking; that could have been sent with perfect propriety to a boat that was in proximity, could it not?

Bride: No, sir, I do not think it could have been, under the circumstances.

Sen.Smith: Do you mean to say that the regulations under which you operate are such that in a situation of this character you have such discretionary power that you may DISMISS an inquiry of that character---

Bride: You use your common sense, and the man on the Frankfurt apparently was not using his at the time.

Sen.Smith: Do you think the operator on the Frankfurt understood that he was a fool?

Bride: No, I think it was too fast for him.

Some of this hostility could be attributed to the fact that Titanic had Marconi wireless while Frankfurt was a Telefunken ship. It seems the operators enthusiastically acted out the rivalry.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I agree with you on the gun--everything indicates that the officers were the only ones with access to them. <<

Not entirely accurate. The officers were the only ones who had access to the waepons provided by White Star which were held under lock and key. It was not unknown for some to have personal weapons (Like the Browning semi-automatic pistol which Lowe had) or for even the passengers to have personal weapons. Michel Navratil Sr. had a loaded revolver on his person which was found on his body when it was recovered. Nobody seemed to give it much thought as anything signifigent.

The attitudes towards firearms in that day was very different from ours.
 
Oct 14, 2009
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Thanks, Michael--I didn't consider the possibility of personal firearms. And I'd assumed Lowe's pistol would have been a .455 Webley revolver--where did you find the info on his Browning? This probably belongs under a different thread, but were the officers' pistols Webleys like those issued to the British armed forces?

You're certainly right about the change in attitude toward guns. Can you imagine the reaction today to an armed crew on a Carnival ship?
 
Oct 14, 2009
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Thanks for the references, Bob--interesting stuff! It seems that the Webley Mk.IV was the likely issue from White Star.

Regarding Phillips and Bride, I would assume that their meals were free of charge, given how little Marconi paid them in wages..
 

Bob Godfrey

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As the wireless operators were paid by both Marconi and the shipping line, their earnings were better than most. Phillips, the senior man, made about the same as a junior deck officer, Bride a bit less. As for all crew members, free bed & board was a perk of the job. As single men with relatively few expenses to meet they would have enjoyed a pretty good living standard - allowing for the fact that expectations were a lot lower in 1912!
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>And I'd assumed Lowe's pistol would have been a .455 Webley revolver--where did you find the info on his Browning?<<

It's been mentioned several time here on the forum. That's where I first found out about it. I think I've seen it in several articles as well as a couple of books. My understanding is that the huge Webleys were the firearms issued by White Star. They didn't much care if an officer had a personal weapon.

That some officers and likely even some of the general crew throughout the merchent marine would have personal firearms shouldn't come as much of a shock. Like I said, attitudes were very different in those days and some ports-of-call were pretty tough. If you found yourself in a tight spot, you were on your own! Especially in places where the law and the criminal element were one and the same.

>>You're certainly right about the change in attitude toward guns. Can you imagine the reaction today to an armed crew on a Carnival ship?<<

Does the word "Illegal" ring a bell? I don't know how it's handled today. There may be a few weapons available to designated security personnel but that's as far as it goes. Most of the time, they'll be under lock and key.
 
Not to bring the conversation back again, but is the newspaper not reliable? Before you jump on that, please understand that I do know they added to and changed several stories. But honestly, I mean would they change his story that much? It seems sensational enough to me. However had he been trying to avoid repercussions, he may change his story for the inquiry. I know we cannot ask him personally, and I am not trying to suggest that the inquiry is not the best resource because I am aware that it IS the best reference resource we have. As Titanic (fanatics, or my personal favorite, Titaniacs) researchers, we must take Almost everything we read about Titanic with a grain of salt. People will lie, even under oath. Does anyone else think that he may have pushed the blame?

Thanks,
Kendra
 

Bob Godfrey

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From my own readings of the correspondence and memoirs of seafaring men I'd say that personal weapons, including firearms, were not at all uncommon even among the rank & file crew members, for the reasons that Mike has stated. And for those on the North Atlantic run a variety of exotic weapons could be obtained at little cost from any American pawn shop. While the shipping regulations discouraged this practice, it was left to the shipowners to make their own rules. Generally the policy was that whatever a man carried in his own kit was his own business, provided it remained out of sight and out of mind while on board. It's notable that during the sinking many seamen needing to cut ropes found it necessary to borrow knives from passengers.