Mr Fred Harris was born in Middlesex, England around 1873 but about his background and family remain uncertain.
He appears on the 1911 census living at 57 Melville Road in Gosport, Hampshire and was described as a married labourer in the public works and aged 38. His wife of eight years is not listed at the same address and her identity currently remains unknown; however, the census indicates that they were childless.
He had served 12 years as a member of the Portsmouth Division of Royal Marines.
He had previously served the Duke of Wellington and the Oceanic immediately prior to joining the Titanic.
When he signed on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912 Harris gave his address as 57 Melville Road, Gosport. As a fireman, he could expect monthly wages of £6.
Frederick Harris survived the sinking and later said of his escape:
Fredk. Harris of Gosport said when the last boat had gone and it was realised that the vessel was going to sink, there was wild confusion, and deck chairs and anything that would float were seized by the men as they jumped overboard. He saw the captain jump into the water and swim to a child, which he placed on a raft. - The Western Times, 30 April 1912.
In another interview related in the Western Daily Mercury (29 April 1912) he claimed that first officer Murdoch shot himself. He got into a "small raft" but was afterwards taken into a lifeboat, finding himself half dead with the cold.
The reliability of these accounts is questionable and some researchers place Frederick Harris in lifeboat 14 when he left Titanic.
Fred Harris, surviving fireman, was in boat 14, 'the last but one to leave the port side.' - Portsmouth Times, p. 6, May 4, 1912.
Harris was not required to give evidence to either the American or British Inquiries into the sinking.
What became of Frederick Harris is not certain.1