Mr Harold Thomas Cottam was born on 27 January 1891 in Southwell, Notts, the eldest son of William Cottam (builder) and his wife Jane. Harold had four younger brothers.
© Marconi Electronic Systems, Courtesy of Jemma Hyder, UK
He attended Minter Grammar School and later studied the Marconi wireless system in London. Harold was the youngest ever graduate from the GB school of telegraphy, finishing when he was still 17. He went to sea straight away, but later returned to shore to work at one of the shore stations belonging to the Post office. He returned to sea aboard the White Star Liner Medic, on the Liverpool to Sydney run. He made two round trips before transferring to the Carpathia in February 1912.
On 14 April 1912 Cottam was aboard the Carpathia. He was waiting for an answer from the Parisian before going to bed. He was bending down to untie his shoelaces when the message came in. He rushed to tell Captain Rostron who immediately ordered the Carpathia turned around. As the Carpathia steamed back to New York Cottam worked with Titanic wireless operator Harold Bride to transmit messages from the survivors to to their relatives
Cottam served on the Raith Castle in January 1919, the Orsoba in the same year and in the Chira in 1921.
Harold married Elsie Jean Shepperson in 1922 and they had four children, two boys and two girls, William, Jean, Sybil and Angus. Angus died in the late 1960's but not in Vietnam as has been quoted by some sources. William lived in the USA, Sybil in Canada and Jean in Australia.
Harold Cottam died in 1984.