Mr John George Phillips

© Marconi Electronic Systems

Mr John George "Jack" Phillips was born on Monday 11 April, 1887, above a Draper's shop in Farncombe Street, Godalming, Surrey. His father George Alfred Phillips ran the shop, with his mother Ann (née Sanders), for a man named Gammon who had several branches in the area. By the time Jack was born his twin sisters Elsie and Ethel were already thirteen years old.

Jack was christened at the church of St. John the Evangelist, just a few hundred yards from the shop, where there is a plaque dedicated to his memory. Jack began his education at the Church School, before going on to attend the tiny local private grammar school for boys. By 1902, at the age of fifteen, Jack had finished his schooling and he joined the Post Office where he trained to be a telegraphist.

St. John the Evangelist
Godalming Grammer School
Courtesy of Jemma Hyder, UK
Courtesy of Jemma Hyder, UK


He remained at the Godalming Post Office until March 1906 when he left for the to undertake further training at the Marconi Company's Wireless Telegraphy Training School at Seaforth Barracks just north of Liverpool. He graduated in August 1906 and received his first post as an operator aboard the white Star Liner Teutonic.

Courtesy of Jemma Hyder, UK

For the next two years he sailed on various liners including the Lusitania and Mauretania until 1908 when he was given an operating post at the Marconi station just outside the small town of Clifden, on the West Coast of Ireland in County Galway. There he served as an operator, transmitting and recieving messages from the Marconi station in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. Towards the end of 1911 Jack returned to sea on the Adriatic and remained with her until Christmas. In the New Year he once again boarded his favourite ship, the Oceanic sailing from Southampton to New York.

On returning to England in March 1912 he received his orders to travel to Belfast and join the Titanic. Some have stated that Jack was acquainted with the other Wireless operator Harold Bride before they sailed on the Titanic, but Bride himself confirmed that they had never met before this point.

The wireless was kept busy with commercial traffic after the Titanic sailed from Southampton 1 and the equipment was damaged as a result. Harold Bride estimated that 250 messages were transmitted in the run up to Sunday night. Jack was turning in for a long awaited rest when the collision came about, and was just about to go to sleep when Captain Smith arrived in the wireless cabin. Once Smith had issued the order to send for help Jack remained at his post sending out the both the CQD and the SOS signals, taking short breaks to go and observe the situation outside. He sent Harold Bride to and from the Captain with regular updates as to the progress of the Carpathia until shortly before the sinking when Smith visited the wireless room to release themfrom their duties.

Both operators left at the same time, Bride going forward to help with collapsible B, and Jack probably running aft. It is not known how Jack left the ship but one way or another he found himself clinging to the same collapsible as Bride and Second Officer Lightoller. Sources say he was conversing with the latter into the small hours about the various ships that could be on the way.

Conditions on the upturned raft were harsh and as Harold Bride stated Jack was being relieved two hours early at midnight because he was exhausted after a heavy day transmitting traffic and repairing equipment. Under the circumstances it proved too much and Jack Phillips died sometime before dawn.

Back home in Godalming the community rallied round and the result was the Phillips Memorial, the largest Titanic memorial in the World. It consists of a cloister, an open field, a field of wild flowers, and a walk along the River Wey.

Courtesy of Jemma Hyder, UK

1. Phillips worked the 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift, and Bride the 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. shift



Bride Fixing Lifebelt on Phillips
New York Times  (1912) 
Jack Phillips
John George Phillips
Lectures pour Tous 
Jack Phillips in a French book for children
Captain Smith and Jack Phillips

Articles and Stories

Titanica! (2007) 
Derby Daily Telegraph (1925) 
New York Times (1915) 
New York Times (1914) 
Surrey Advertiser and County Times (1912) 
New York Tribune (1912) 
The Times (1912) 
Godalming and District News (1912) 
Oxford Times (1912) 
Daily Home News (1912) 
New York Times (1912) 
Wiltshire Times (1912) 
Washington Post (1912) 
Washington Times (1912) 
Chicago Daily Journal (1912) 
The Toronto World (1912) 
Boston Globe (1912) 
New York Times (1912) 
The Sun (New York) (1912) 
Surrey Advertiser and County Times 

Comment and discuss

Jack Phillips' final moments (186 posts)
The Jack PhillipsHarold Bride picture (91 posts)
Jack Phillips Postcards (63 posts)
Jack Phillips (62 posts)
Jack Phillips Had A HalfBrother (45 posts)
Jack Phillips Anyone know if he worked on the Olympic (42 posts)
John George "Jack" Phillips Ancestry (35 posts)
Final Hours in the Marconi Room (16 posts)
Wasn't Jack Phillips wearing a lifebelt? (14 posts)
Jack Phillips memorials (13 posts)
What happened to girlfriend Kathleen Bex (11 posts)
Plan for a commemorative plaque in memory of Jack Phillips in Clifden Ireland (9 posts)
Any photos of Jack Phillips (8 posts)
Need some info on Jack Phillips (6 posts)
Watch hours (6 posts)
Did Phillips and Bride exit thru the wireless shack's skylight (5 posts)
Jack Phillips news stories (5 posts)
Book about Jack Phillips (3 posts)
Titanic in contact with Tenerife (2 posts)
Other ships on which he sailed (1 post)
Any coming articles or biographies (1 post)
A book on Jack (1 post)


Jemma Hyder, UK
Brandon Whited, USA

References and Sources

General Register Office Certified Copy of an Entry of Birth
Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
John Booth & Sean Coughlan (1993) Titanic Signals of Disaster. White Star Publicatons, Westbury, Wiltshire. ISBN 0 9518190 1 1
British Census 1881
British Census 1891
John P. Eaton & Charles A. Haas (2000) Titanic: A Journey Through Time.
John P. Eaton & Charles A. Haas (1994) Titanic: Triumph & Tragedy, 2nd ed. Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1 85260 493 X
Colonel Archibald Gracie (1913) The Truth about the Titanic. New York, Mitchell Kennerley
Donald Hyslop, Alastair Forsyth and Sheila Jemima (1997) Titanic Voices: Memories from the Fateful Voyage, Sutton Publishing, Southampton City Council. ISBN 0 7509 1436 X
Charles H. Lightoller (1935) The Titanic and Other Ships
Don Lynch & Ken Marschall (1992) Titanic: An Illustrated History. London, Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0 340 56271 4
United States Senate (62nd Congress), Subcommittee Hearings of the Committee on Commerce, Titanic Disaster, Washington 1912
Wreck Commissioners'' Court, Proceedings before the Right Hon. Lord Mersey on a Formal Investigation Ordered by the Board of Trade into the Loss of the S.S. Titanic
Parish magazine, May 1887
Post Office Archives, Mount Pleasant
Logs of the Lusitania (1907), Mauretania (1908), Oceanic (1911) (Public Record Office, Kew)
New York Times, 19 April, 1912, Harold Bride''s Account
Marconi Archives
Godalming Town Council minutes (1912-1913)
Search archive British newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2015) John George Phillips (ref: #2051, last updated: 4th October 2015, accessed 9th May 2021 08:49:12 AM)

Discover More

Join the Encyclopedia Titanica Community (21k)     Join the Encyclopedia Titanica Facebook Group (11k)