Encyclopedia Titanica


The Toronto World

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J. G. Phillips, Who Flashed the Signals of Distress From the Titanic, Talked Several Times to Two Local Wireless Operators While Working on the Great Lakes Boat and Told of His Ambitions.

Fred B. Barton, a local wireless operator, "talked" to J. G. Phillips of the steamer Titanic on Lake St. Clair, near Detroit, two years ago.  He formed an acquaintnceship (sic) with the wireless operator, who went to his death with the crew of the White Star giant liner, via wireless and was greatly shocked on hearing that he had not been rescued.  "Poor Phillips," said Mr. Barton.  "I knew him only by talking to him across the lake, but I found that he was a good fellow.  He had not been in the game very long, but he was honored (sic) with one of the highest posts in the business when he was given the position on the Titanic."

When Barton was tinkering with the wireless instrument on J. C. Eaton's yacht, the "Florence," while on a cruise around the great lakes, he "listened in" in the parlance of operators and heard the signal "M. G. B."  It is a habit of wireless men to keep in touch with all the vessels at all hours and when Barton heard "M. G. B." repeated several times, he tuned his wireless instrument and started up a conversation with J. G. Phillips, who sank with the Titanic.

Phillips' station, "M. G. B." was only a few miles away from Detroit.  He was (sic) operator on Gordon Bennett's private yacht "Lysistrata."  Mr. Bennett is president of the Commerical Cable Co.  Mr. Barton talked with Phillips for several hours and learned that he intended taking a position on the Oceanic the following year.  Before the Titanic left Southampton on its maiden and fatal voyage, Phillips was transferred to this steamer from the Oceanic.  His home was in London, Eng., where he lived with his mother.

Job Not Fast Enough

"The wireless business on a yacht is not fast enough for me."  Phillips had told Mr. Barton.  At that time he had applied for a position on an ocean-going vessel.

When this conversation took place, it was a fine summer evening, and the wireless sounds were as clear as a bell.  The next day when Barton "tuned up," the instrument, he ticked off "M. G. B." several times.  In a few moments he heard the continental code clicking "I-I. M. G. B."  He found it was Phillips on the "wire" and they again had a long conservation about things in general.  For several days, until the two yachts were out of range, Phillips and Barton talked by wireless.

Intended to Pay Visit.

"I only wish I had met him personally," said Mr. Barton to The World, when interviewed at the wireless station of the Goodyear Rubber Goods office, East Queen-st., where he listens to wireless talk six days in the week.  "Of course, all operators manage to get fairly well acquainted with one another by wireless or telegraph, even if they are miles apart.  I was going to look him up when the steamer he was working on was in port if I was given the chance."

Mr. Barton, whose home is also in Eng., increased his friendship with Phillips thru that fact, and they chatted much and intimately about the world's metropolis.

A short time after the conversation on Lake St. Clair with the operator of the Titanic, Hunter MacLaren, who had exchanged places with Barton, he taking the post on the yacht, and Barton going to the station on the roof of the departmental store, talked to Phillips.  This was in the vicinity of the Thousand Islands.  The conversation had been an ordinary one indulged in by operators the world over.

Related Biographies

John George Phillips


Encyclopedia Titanica (2006) WIRELESS WORK ON A YACHT NOT FAST ENOUGH FOR ME (The Toronto World, Wednesday 17th April 1912, ref: #5036, published 3 November 2006, generated 15th October 2021 08:37:58 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/wireless-work-yacht-not-fast-enough-for-me.html