Harold Phillimore c.1919
(National Archives, crown copyright, courtesy of Michael Poirier)
Mr Harold Charles William Phillimore (Saloon steward, 2nd class) was born in Shirley, Southampton, Hampshire, England on 1 May 1888.
He was the son of Henry Charles Phillimore (1856-1930), a mariner, and Caroline Grant (1862-1940). His father hailed from Shirley and his mother from in Corfe Castle, Dorset, and they had married in 1883.
Harold was one of eight children born to his parents, his siblings being: Carry Ethel (b. 1885), Beatrice Maud (b. 1890), Daisy May (b. 1892), Henry Sidney (b. 1894), Ellen Kathleen (b. 1896), Florence Mabel (b. 1898) and Basil Edward (b. 1905).
He first appears on the 1891 census when the family were living at 86 Church Street, Shirley. The 1901 census would see the family having moved to 42 Tory (?) Road, Portswood, Southampton. Harold first worked as a grocer on London Road in Southampton before he went to sea at age 20, his first ship being the Majestic. By the time of the 1911 census he is described as a seaman and still living at home with his family, now at 73 Priory Road, St Denys. He later served aboard Adriatic and Olympic, reportedly being aboard the latter vessel for her delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton.
Purportedly also on the delivery trip of Titanic from Belfast to Southampton, when he signed-on to the Titanic, on 4 April 1912, Harold gave his address as 72 Priory Road, (Southampton). He had transferred from the Olympic and received monthly wages of £3, 15s.
Harold remained on the Titanic during her final throes and managed to climb aboard some floating wreckage where he spent time with another man who later died of exposure. He was one of only a very few men rescued from the water by lifeboat 14 which had, under the command of Fifth Officer Harold Lowe, distributed its passengers to other boats and returned to the scene of the sinking amid hundreds of floating bodies to search for survivors. Phillimore spied the boat approaching and called out, with Lowe and his crew responding by travelling towards him and extending out an oar for him to grasp. Such was his frozen condition though that he was unable to grasp it but he was eventually hauled into boat 14.
Phillimore continued as a steward in the merchant marine. Following the outbreak of WWI he volunteered in September 1915 and served aboard SS Royal George, engaged in transport work to various parts of the British Empire and he was later awarded the General Service and Mercantile Marine War Medals. During peacetime he continued to work at sea and served aboard ships including Queen Mary and Berengaria. Acting as a bedroom steward for some 36 years he would wait on several illustrious people, including the Duke of Windsor (Edward VIII). In his younger years aboard Adriatic he recalled waiting upon the famed music hall actress, comedian and musician Marie Lloyd. He retired in 1956 at the ripe age of 68.
Harold Phillimore in the 1940s
(National Archives, crown copyright, courtesy of Gavin Bell)
Back on land Phillimore had married in 1913 to Mabel Podesta (b. 1889), a Southampton native. Mabel died in 1933 and Harold was remarried two years later to Annie Carver. He had no children from either marriage.
Harold settled in Eastleigh, Hampshire at 43 Nutbeem Road and died on 26 April 1967 aged 79, just one day after the death of another crew survivor, the last living officer of Titanic Joseph Boxhall which the contemporary press reported. Harold, who was survived by his wife, was buried in South Stoneham Cemetery, Southampton.