Encyclopedia Titanica


New York Times

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Sea Gate Operator Explains the Messages to Bride and Cottam on the
"Keep Your Mouth Shut" Not Official, but Friendly Words of One Operator
to Another

Answering the charge that orders were sent to the wireless operators on
board the rescue ship Carpathia to hold back news of the Titanic
disaster, the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company issued yesterday this
statement from the operator in charge of the Sea Gate station:

"New York. April 22, 1912

"In answer to the unwarranted attack upon the Marconi Company, made by
The New York Herald, I beg to state the following:

"On Thursday, April 18, the day the Carpathia landed the survivors in
New York I was in charge of the wireless station at Sea Gate, Coney
Island, and was the only wireless operator who worked with the Carpathia
from the moment she established communication with Sea Gate until the
vessel docked.

"During this time all messages and information passed through my hands,
and I cannot deny too emphatically that any instructions or even hints
to suppress news of the disaster were transmitted to either Mr. Cottam
or Mr. Bride.

"On the contrary, instructions were issued by the Marconi Company to its
operators to obtain any possible information on the subject and 'rush'
it to headquarters.

"I established communication with the Carpathia at about 5 P. M. on the
day in question, and although static wireless conditions were most
trying for the reception of messages the Carpathia operator was
requested to go ahead with his traffic first. After receiving a large
number of private messages which were transmitted with all haste over
the land wires, the White Star Line phoned me a message which seemed to
me so urgent that I requested the Carpathia to cease 'sending and 'take'
this message at once.

Here follows the message:

Number 1 16, Rush.

Mr Bruce Ismay, SS. Carpathia

Concise Marconigram account of actual accident greatly needed for
enlightenment public and ourselves. This most important.


"This message was sent at 7:45 P. M. April 18 or in other words after
the vessel had passed Quarantine, and after receiving same, the
Carpathia operator said "Std bi." He was exhausted.

"He did not return until some time later when he resumed sending me his
private messages. Judging from the strength of the received signals it
appeared as though the vessel was nearing dock and I have since learned
that she was at or very near her dock. I immediately phoned the Marconi
Company that I had been unable to obtain any news and that nothing in
the nature of a press dispatch was received. This was 8:15 P. M. and I
was then requested by Mr. Sammins, [sic] the Chief Engineer of the
Marconi Company, to advise Messrs. Bride and Cottam not to talk of their
personal experiences to reporters, who would naturally be on the lookout
for them on the wharf, as an amount running into four figures would be
paid by some newspaper for such a narrative.

"I was rather lengthy in my explanation, striving all the time to
impress upon the Carpathia operator that this referred to his conduct
after landing. Owing to interference, he was unable to grasp the
situation readily, and I, realizing that time was short, and there might
still be a possibility of receiving some more of his traffic, repeated
my explanation in a more concise form, and it was then, that I flashed
the following words which were of my own construction:

Keep your mouth shut. Say nothing until you see Mr. Sammis.

"This was at 8:20 P. M. and the vessel, I believe, docked very shortly

"Up to this time no reply had even been received from Ismay to the
message previously quoted and it was obvious that there was not
sufficient time remaining for the transmission of any press or news.

"How then instructions to the operator, to surpress [sic] the news of
the disaster?



Mark Baber, USA


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Encyclopedia Titanica (2007) NO WIRELESS ORDER TO HOLD BACK NEWS (New York Times, Saturday 27th April 1912, ref: #5613, published 10 August 2007, generated 30th November 2022 03:25:54 AM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/no-wireless-order-hold-back-news.html