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The First Real Time Tragedy: The Sinking of the RMS Titanic

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
December 5, 2022 3:00 am

The First Real Time Tragedy: The Sinking of the RMS Titanic

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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December 5, 2022 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, on April 18th, 1912, New York Harbor was packed with reporters, onlookers, and family members of those who had been on the RMS Titanic who didn't know whether or not their loved ones had made it. All of them were waiting on the Carpathia, a ship that had mattered very little up to this point. At the front of the crowd was Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of radio and founder of the Marconi Company. On board was his surviving wireless operator-Harold Bride. William Hazelgrove, author of One Hundred and Sixty Minutes: The Race to Save the RMS Titanic tells the story of both men and the technology that helped save over 700 people.

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2023 Lyric orders are full, but go to Cadillac.com and complete a pre-order from model year 24 to be among the first to order a model year 24 when available. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, the show where America is the star and the American people. And to hear and search for the Our American Stories podcast, go to the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcast. A little known fact about the Titanic is that it was actually owned by an American, KP Morgan. Up next, a story about this infamous ship through the eyes of two men who often don't come up in discussions about the ship. The ship's wireless operators, William Hazelgrove, will tell the story, but to start us off, here's a reading from Titanic survivor, Jack Thayer's autobiography. Let's get into the story. Those were ordinary days, and into them had crept only gradually the telephone, the talking machine, the automobile, the airplane, due to have soon such a stimulating yet devastating effect upon civilization. The morning paper had headlines no larger than half an inch in height.

These days were peaceful. It seems to me that the disaster about to occur was the event which not only made the world rub its eyes in a way, but woke it with a start, keeping it moving at a rapidly accelerating pace ever since with less peace, satisfaction, and happiness. In my mind, the world of today awoke, April 15th, 1912. On the night Carpathia came into New York, it's thundering, it's lightning, rain's coming down. The dock in New York Harbor is just mobbed with people. Thousands of people who don't know if their husband, wives, daughters, sons have made it or not, and they see this ship emerging out of the darkness, brilliantly lit up, and it's met in the harbor by all these reporters on boats. These reporters literally start throwing guy bullets of money onto the deck of Carpathia, telling the passengers, jump off, we'll pick you out of the water, and we'll pay you whatever you want for your story, anything you want for your story.

And when the harbor pilot comes on, they all try and jump on board too, and they literally get punched and thrown off because this is the scoop of the century, and Carpathia pulls up. And of course, Guglia Marconi is at the head of the crowd to get on Carpathia when she pulls in, which has his wireless operator, Harold Bride, on board. Everybody wanted to talk to him because he's the surviving wireless operator. Marconi was a fascinating guy.

Guglia Marconi was from Italy, and he had a sort of quasi-interest in science, but he really had more of an entrepreneur's bent. He actually started some experiments in this attic of his parents' home. He had a cathode ray, and in the cathode ray were iron filings. So when he sent out an iron file, he said, you know what, I'm going to take this cathode ray. So when he sent out an electric signal, the iron filings jumped into the middle of a sort of glass bar in the middle of the cathode ray. So this meant that action had occurred from this electrical signal.

So the question was, well, how far could this go? So he had a friend take a gun and go off a long distance, and he shot off a signal. And when this friend received the signal, he shot off his gun. So he develops this technology that others have been developing, but he sort of takes it one step further. And he gives a science experiment, and basically they have a transmitter and a receiver. And the receiver is in a box that dings. And so they're in this theater.

All these people are there. And so basically Marconi would walk around the theater with this box. You know, somebody was manning the transmitter, and so they sent off the wireless telegraphy signal. It would hit the box, and it would ding. And everybody kept looking for wires. You know, where are the wires connecting this box to this transmitter? And Marconi just kept walking around with it, sort of like almost a waiter presenting this new technology.

Wireless. So then he started to think, you know, I wonder if this would work on water. That's really what you need. You need these ships to be in contact, because up to then ships would just disappear. Nobody knew what happened to them. So everybody was like, no, no, no, no. It won't work, because the earth is curved. The radio waves would just bounce off into space.

There's no way it'll work. So he went through all these experiments on the English Channel. And basically, you know, he had erected towers or blown down. He ended up using a kite to sort of get an antenna aloft. But he was able to transmit a signal across the English Channel. So then he thought, well, why not the ocean?

And again, everybody's like, there's no way this is going to work. And they didn't understand this at the time. Wireless could only go about 500 miles during the daylight hours.

But at night, on a cold, clear night, like April 14, 1912, where it was just brilliantly clear, these signals could bounce on and on up to 2,000 miles. So when Marconi proved this, this was amazing to people. This was just groundbreaking, because now a ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean could tell the world what was going on. And by the way, that's what makes Titanic so unique, one of the things, is that it's the first real time disaster.

Disaster. So Marconi's waiting at the dock. And aboard Carpathia, Harold Cotton, who was the wireless man on Carpathia, literally keels over from exhaustion. So they say to Harold Bride, who survived under a lifeboat, feet are horribly frostbitten, they say, look, we know you've been through hell and back, but can you take over the wireless?

You only want to know Morse code. So he does. The first telegram he gets is from Google Leo Marconi, who says to him, don't say a word. Don't say a word to anybody.

I've arranged for you to tell your story to the New York Times for $1,000, which is like $20,000 today. And he doesn't. And Carpathia pulls up. And he's literally one of the first people to get on.

He's a rock star by today's standards. Everybody knows who this guy is. So he sees Part 4 when he walks on board, and he goes right to the wireless room where Harold Bride is still working, still sending messages. And he says to him, your work is done. He has him taken off the ship and taken to a waiting car. Then he's taken to the Strand Hotel where these reporters are there. And then he sits down and tells them what happened on Titanic. He gives them the story, basically, of the century. I was standing by Phillips, telling him to go to bed, when the captain put his head in the cabin.

He struck an iceberg. And you're listening to William Hazelgrove tell the story of the first real-time disaster in the world, when we come back, more of this remarkable story here on Our American Story. Folks, if you love the stories we tell about this great country, and especially the stories of America's rich past, know that all of our stories about American history, from war to innovation, culture, and faith, are brought to us by the great folks at Hillsdale College, a place where students study all the things that are beautiful in life, and all the things that are good in life. And if you can't get to Hillsdale, Hillsdale will come to you with their free and terrific online courses.

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There's a better way to fly private. And we return to our American stories and our story on the sinking of the RMS Titanic through the eyes of her wireless operators, Harold Bride and Jack Phillips. When we last left off, William Hazelgrove was telling us about the night the Titanic's rescue ship, the Carpathia, sailed into New York Harbor and a little bit about the man who invented the technology that helped save some of the Titanic's passengers, Guglio Marconi. You'll be hearing excerpts of Harold Bride's interview with the New York Times throughout this piece. Let's return to the story.

Begin at the beginning. I was born at Nunhead, England, 22 years ago and joined the Marconi forces last July. I first worked on the Hoverford and then the Lusitania. I joined the Titanic at Belfast with Jack Phillips. Jack Phillips and Harold Bride were two working class youths from England and they both worked on different ships and ended up on Titanic. Actually, for Jack Phillips, it was really a sort of promotion. He was really leading the team there, if you will. I didn't have much to do on that Titanic except relieve Phillips from midnight until sometime in the morning when he woke up. On the night of the accident, I was not sending but was asleep.

I was due to be up to relieve Phillips earlier than usual. These guys are sort of like the computer nerds of today. It is a young man's game at this point. Nobody understands Morse code except these operators. It sounds like static and it's amazing they can decipher this but they do and they're able to travel. It's exciting for them to be on this big ship and they really are on the cutting edge of technology of their time. This ability to send a wireless message through the atmosphere is just amazing and it's going to change everything.

And what's interesting is this. They are pretty much isolated from the ship. The wireless operators slept in their room.

They ate there. They had no contact with the crew and by the way, the room was called the silent room because it had to be insulated against several things. One was noise coming in but two, they were using direct current. We use alternating current so we don't electrocute ourselves.

Direct current, you step it way up, especially if you've got to broadcast out, shoot out these signals across the Atlantic. The key would literally crack very loudly so they had to also muffle that. And that reminds me, if it hadn't been for a lucky thing, we would have never been able to send any call for help. So before Titanic hits the iceberg, believe it or not, their wireless set was broken the day of April 14th. We noticed something was wrong on Sunday and Phillips and I worked for seven hours to find it.

We found a burned out secretary at last and repaired it just a few hours before the iceberg was struck. And they had all these messages piled up. Wireless is really for passengers.

Harold Bride, Jack Phillips did not work for White Star. They worked for Marconi and that's really how Marconi made his money. Because you could go send a telegram now from Titanic and Titanic had the most powerful wireless set you could put on a ship. So you could send a telegram back to New York saying, hey Jim, I'm in the middle of the Atlantic on Titanic, I'm having a great time, meet you for lunch. Also what they could do is they could take information from a shore station where the information would be beamed out or shot out to Titanic and then they had big printing presses and Titanic had its own newspaper. So then Titanic would create a newspaper so the rich could sit and have their coffee and croissants and read about say the Chicago Cubs or whatever.

This was amazing to people and it was a pretty sophisticated system. I mean they had pneumatic tubes, stewards would take the messages to the room, they'd come out with a message, but it was laborious to send them and so they would just pile up. You know, there's a lot of passengers, so these guys are going hard at it when a ship named the Californian is approaching pretty close. They're maybe 10 to 12 miles away and they've got some messages for Titanic. And so what happens is while Jack Phillips, who's the head operator, is trying to get through these messages, this operator breaks in. It's sort of like getting in your car with the radiator turned up. If these boats are on top of each other then you know it's very loud to the operator and so he breaks in and blows Jack Phillips' ears off with this message saying, hey I've got some messages for you, some ice warnings, and Phillips retorts, keep out, shut up, I'm working Cape Race.

And so this operator, there's only one operator in California, which again is 10 to 12 miles away, says you know it's been a long day and he turns his set off, which is going to have implications down the line that are amazing. So now as Titanic's steaming toward this iceberg, yes ice warnings have come in, yes they've been taken up to the bridge, had they been acted on, no, a couple of them were stuck onto a bulletin board. So at this moment as they're plunging through the North Atlantic at 24 knots, Jack Phillips and Harold Bride are just working it, trying to get passenger messages out. It's bitterly cold and lookout fleet is up in the crow's nest looking for icebergs.

Also it's incredibly calm. The North Atlantic is usually not this calm but it's a millpile, it's like glass, so the stars are all reflecting off the water too. So you have a million speckled stars against this cold night, it's so cold that there's sort of these ice particles floating around the deck lights, which is very much evidence that you're entering into an ice field because those icebergs turn it sort of super cold, they just sort of bring the temperature down around them. So they're up there, they're freezing, they see the iceberg, they calm down and they reverse the engine, they crank it over, the wheel over to the left and Titanic takes a very, very long time to turn. When she finally does, they feel like they missed her but they stopped the ship.

Captain Smith who's in his stateroom comes bursting out, what happened? The watertight doors are closed. Now the watertight doors are the reason that Titanic is called unsinkable.

What are they? They're these big steel doors that take every bulkhead and seal it off. Now in theory, if a bulkhead's sealed off, the water could only come in so far.

With Titanic, the bulkheads only go up to E deck. That means that this water coming in is going to fill up the first compartment and then go up and over into the second compartment. It'd be like if you're sitting in your living room and you left the windows open in the bedroom next to your living room and your bedroom fills up with water and it comes over the top into your living room where you're sitting. Or think of a weight thrown into the front of a canoe just pulling it down. Well that's what the water does. Now even still, Titanic can float with four compartments flooded but five compartments flooded. So now the weight of the water, 39,000 tons rushing in, is overcoming the ship's buoyancy and so at this point, Titanic is doomed.

Though for most people, there's no evidence of it. This is a monster ship. People are still serving drinks, food still being served. Everything's going along like nothing's wrong. Also, there is no PA. There is no public address system and there's been no lifeboat drills.

So you have these lifeboats 90 feet up and they've never worked together to ever lower them. Mostly though, people don't know. So how do you find out? Well the first class, the steward comes up says, I say sir would you mind putting on your life jacket and coming up top but we're just it's not a big thing but we might get in the boats.

So they do. How does the third class steerage famously and the bottom of the ship find out? Maybe somebody yells down the hallway. Most of them don't speak English anyway and by the way they're down in this labyrinth of a ship.

They have no idea how to get up there. So it's all against them right away and famously in the movie we all see the blocked doorways passages and we think oh how evil. Actually that wasn't evil. That's the way it was then. It was expected a white star to separate the classes.

So yes doors were blocked against the third class coming up and bamming into the first class dressed in probably ten thousand dollar dinner clothes going to dinner and so you had that kind of money with people who literally owned just the clothes on their back down in steerage coming to America for a better life. And you're listening to William Hazelgrove tell the remarkable story of the sinking of the Titanic through what we would consider now to be tech geeks. The two wireless operators who were working with the cutting edge technology of its time.

Technology that could have saved the Titanic and in the end preserved the story of the Titanic and saved lives. When we come back more of this storytelling again from the wireless technicians point of view here on Our American Story. Passing the ball is fun. The Frito-Lay pass the ball challenge is more fun. Frito-Lay the official USA snack of the FIFA World Cup 2022 is giving you the chance to win custom soccer swag and amazing prizes by joining their pass the ball challenge. To enter just scan the QR code on specially marked bags of Lay's Cheetos and Doritos and look for the Golden World Soccer Ball. Explore the ever-growing community and even find friends on the ball. Then pass the ball to fellow soccer fans and play daily games for a chance to score custom swag like limited edition jerseys, duffel bags, scarfs and balls. Grab a specially marked bag of Lay's Cheetos or Doritos or visit FritoLayScore.com now to join the pass the ball challenge and you can win amazing Frito-Lay prizes.

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There's a better way to fly private. And we return to our American stories and our story on the sinking of the RMS Titanic through the eyes of her wireless operators, Harold Bride and Jack Phillips. When we last left off the Titanic had struck an iceberg and was slowly sinking into the Atlantic Ocean. The water temperature at the time 27 degrees and her captain EJ Smith was now forced to reckon with how exactly he was going to save the 2240 people on board. Here again is William Hazelgrove. Let's talk about Captain Smith. Captain Smith's like a duck head on the head. He does look like the captain in the movie.

You know, big white beard, very august. But he's never had a tragedy like this. In fact, he just gave an interview before the crew's saying, you know what, ship sinking sort of thing in the past.

Technology's too advanced for that. So he's stunned. And he goes down to the wireless room, the silent room, and the captain put his head in the cabin and said, we've struck an iceberg and I'm having an inspection made to tell what it has done for us. You better get ready to send out a call for assistance, but don't send it until I tell you to. The captain went away and in 10 minutes, I should estimate, he came back. We could hear a terrible confusion outside. Then they call for assistance, ordered the captain, barely putting his head in the door.

What call should I send? Phillips asked. The regulation international call for help. Just that. Then the captain was gone. Phillips began to send CQD.

He flashed away at it and we joked why he did so. Now CQD means basically listen up for what's coming next. An easy translation is come quick to stress. It's not literally, that's what it means, but basically that's what it says. Now at that moment, you're sending out this message.

All right. So Titanic has four big antennas over the top of her phone. So it only exists in one photo and they start beaming these things out, shooting them out over the North Atlantic at night, which is the most powerful thing.

Shooting them out over the North Atlantic at night, which is the best time. And what's it say? It says, have struck an iceberg, need a media assistance, longitude, latitude, over and over and over. This is what Jack Phillips is just sending. He's just sending it one out on top of the other. Now, this early technology has only so many frequencies. So when somebody's sending something out, you can't hear what's coming back. It's like early, early phones.

When the early world circuits, people had to literally wait for the farm down the road to get off so they could get on or they could listen to their call. And that's what this wireless technology is like. You're sending out, but you can't hear coming back. So Jack Phillips has to take on faith, mostly that people are hearing him and he's just repeatedly sending these signals out to any ship. So what, what, what does this mean? What are they hoping for? They're hoping a ship will get this, turn around and come full speed toward them because they've only got two hours and 40 minutes or 160 minutes to live.

You have these two wireless operators who have mattered very little up to this point, really. Now everyone's fate on board the Titanic depends on them. Then the captain came back. What are you sending?

Yes. CQD, Phillips replied. The humor of the situation appealed to me and I cut in with a little remark that made us all laugh, including the captain. Send SOS, I said. It's the new call and it may be our last chance to send it.

Phillips with a laugh changed the signal to SOS. Now they're sending both and first it comes out, have struck an iceberg, need immediate assistance. Well, then it changes to have struck an iceberg, putting off women and children. He puts that in there because that in terms of the Mariner code is we're in trouble. We're going down fast. And that is way beyond has struck an iceberg, need assistance. Many ships begin to answer our signals, the Frankfurt, the Baltic, then the Carpathia answered our signal.

We told her our position and told her that we were sinking by the head. So Harold Cotton, who's aboard the Carpathia, who's the wireless operator, he actually knows Jack Phillips and they get the message late, almost 1230. The operator on the Carpathia went to tell the captain and in five minutes returned and told us that the captain of the Carpathia was putting about and heading for us. Captain Rostrum is the captain. He was known as the electric spark among his men. He's incredibly energetic and he's very well liked by the crew, by the passengers.

He's known as a very fair captain. Now, when he gets the message from Titanic saying, come quick, distressed, he too is in the North Atlantic and he too is at risk of sinking if he hits an iceberg. And he makes this decision very quickly that he was going to put not only his life, but it really everybody in his ship. He's going to put all their lives on the line to go help these people in distress because he feels that's his duty. And he's going to take your ship faster than it's ever been designed to go. He gets up every stoker, the guys who shovel coal and gives them all a shot of brandy and says, go to it. And he diverts all the steam from the passengers.

Okay. So these are steam driven ships. So the big pistons, right? So the more steam, the faster they go. Turns the Carpathia around, uncovers his lifeboat, sets up a hospital triage station, puts out extra lookouts, says a prayer. He's a religious man and takes off full speed for Titanic, weaving his way through icebergs, putting it all on the line. He's going so fast that the passengers who are now freezing, because they don't have any heat anymore, are coming out and saying, we think Carpathia is on fire and he's going toward the shore to run underground. This is what ships would do if they caught fire. They could make a beeline for the shore and just try and run the ship around because nobody's told them what they're really doing. So Rostrum, who's just hell bent on getting there, immediately becomes their best shot at being rescued, even though he's 50 miles away. While we continued to send every few minutes, Philips would send me to the captain with little messages. They were merely telling how the Carpathia was coming our way and gave her speed. I noticed as I came back from one trip that they were putting women and children in lifeboats.

I noticed that the list forward was increasing and Philips told me that the wireless was growing weaker. So at 2 a.m. Captain Smith comes into the silent room and he said, men, you have done your full duty. You can do no more. Abandon your cabin. Now it's every man for himself. You look out for yourselves. I release you. That's the way of it at this kind of time.

Every man for himself. Titanic's at about a 45 degree angle. Water's coming into the wireless room. The ship's going down. Well, Philips and Brides stay there. The dynamos are still going. There's still some power.

Even though it's weak, it's sort of like rural circuits getting fainter. You know, they've turned kind of almost red, the lights. But it's still enough to try and get out these signals.

So they stay there right up until 2 20 when she's going down. Philips clung on, sending, sending. He clung on for about 10 to 15 minutes after the captain had released him.

The water was then coming into our cabin. How poor Philips worked through it, I don't know. He was a brave man.

I learned to love him that night and I suddenly felt for him a great reverence. I see him standing there, thinking to his work while everybody else is raging about. I will never live to forget the work of Philips for the last awful 15 minutes. Another strange moment is a stoker comes in and he's one of the guys who shovels coal and tries to steal Jack Philips' jacket from him. While he works, something happened that I hate to tell about. I was back in my room getting Philips' money for him and as I looked out the door, I saw a stoker or somebody from Below Decks leaning over Philips from behind.

He was too busy to notice what the man was doing. The man was slipping a life belt off of Philips' back. He was a big man too.

As you can see, I'm very small and I don't know what it was that I got a hold of. I remember in a flash the way Philips had clung on, how I had to fix the life belt in place because he was too busy to do it. I know that man from Below Decks had his own life belt and should have known where to get it. I suddenly felt a passion to not let that man die a decent sailor's death. I wish he might have stretched rope or walked a plank. I did my duty. I hope I'd finished him. I don't know.

We left him on the floor of the wireless room and he was not moving. Passing the ball is fun. The Frito-Lay Pass the Ball Challenge is more fun. Frito-Lay, the official USA snack of the FIFA World Cup 2022, is giving you the chance to win custom soccer swag and amazing prizes by joining their Pass the Ball Challenge. To enter, just scan the QR code on specially marked bags of Leis, Cheetos and Doritos and look for the Golden World Soccer Ball. Explore the ever-growing community and even find friends on the ball. Then pass the ball to fellow soccer fans and play daily games for a chance to score custom swag like limited edition jerseys, duffel bags, scarfs and balls.

Grab a specially marked bag of Leis, Cheetos or Doritos or visit FritoLayScore.com now to join the Pass the Ball Challenge and you can win amazing Frito-Lay prizes. When the world gets in the way of your music, try the new Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2, next-gen earbuds uniquely tuned to the shape of your ears. They use exclusive Bose technology that personalizes the audio performance to fit you, delivering the world's best noise cancellation and powerfully immersive sound so you can hear and feel every detail of the music you love. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2, soundshaped to you.

To learn more, visit Bose.com. Hey, there's a better way to fly. Instead of being stuck in endless lines and packed onto planes, try simplifying your travel with Surf Air. Save an average of two hours on every trip and avoid crowded airports with a new way to fly private. With Surf Air, you'll fly from smaller airports closer to your home.

There are no lines, no waiting and no stress. SurfAir.com, the best alternative to commercial air travel that makes flying easy. Get a free quote on your next flight at SurfAir.com.

There's a better way to fly private. And we return to our American stories and our final portion of our story on the sinking of the Titanic through the eyes of her wireless operators, Jack Phillips and Harold Bride. When we last left off, the situation on Titanic had become increasingly hopeless. And despite being ordered to abandon their cabin, the wireless operators continued to send desperate messages for help.

Eventually, both Harold Bride and Jack Phillips would leave the room in search for some salvation. Here again is William Hazelgrove. Let's continue with the story. From AFT came the tunes of the band. It's a ragtime tune.

I don't know what. Phillips ran AFT, and that was the last time I ever saw him alive. Basically, all order broke down in Titanic. They run out of the wireless room and one remaining boat called an Inglehart, which is a collapsible. Some men were trying to get it off the roof. I guess there wasn't a sailor in the crowd.

They couldn't do it. And the way most people ended up in the water on Titanic was a final wave came over the ship. Big wave carried the boat off. I had hold of an Orlock and I went off with it. Harold Bride ends up under a lifeboat, overturned in the water. And I remember realizing I was wet through and whatever happened, I must not breathe for I was underwater.

I knew I had to fight for it and I did. How I got out from under the boat, I do not know, but I felt a breath of air at last. There were men all around me, hundreds of them.

The sea was dotted with them, all depending on their life belt. When Titanic was sinking, it was strangely beautiful. You had this huge ship inverting all lit up against this cold sky with all these stars and this water that was just like glass. And it was an incredible spectacle. And then, of course, it broke apart.

He was a beautiful sight then. Smoke and sparks were rushing out of her funnel. There must have been an explosion, but we had heard none.

We only saw the big stream of sparks. The ship was gradually turning her nose, just like the duck does when it goes down for a dive. The band was still playing.

I guess all the band went down. And the sound was like a thousand freight trains crashing because everything inside Titanic broke loose when it inverted and went crashing down. All these big engines went crashing down from one end of the ship to the other.

And then she went straight down. And then there was a strange fog over the water that followed. When at last the waves washed over her rudder, there wasn't the least bit of suction I could feel. She must have kept going down slowly as she had been. I felt after a little while like sinking. It was very cold. I saw a boat near me and put all my strength into an effort to swim to it. It was hard work. I was all done when a hand reached out from the boat and pulled me aboard. It was our same collapsible.

The same crowd was on it. He climbs on top of it and lays there, his feet severely frostbitten. And literally, if anybody moves the wrong way, they fall off and they fall off and die. It's an incredible moment because on this lifeboat, there's probably 15 men all laying at different angles, literally laying on top of each other. Think of a boat. Just think about a dinghy, you know, a rowboat turned over and you're laying on top of it. And you have 10, 12, 15 other people laying on top of it and you're literally all laying on top of each other because if you move, you fall into the water.

Somebody sat on my legs. They were wedged in between slats and being wrenched. I didn't have the heart to tell the man to move. It was a terrible sight all around. Men swimming and sinking.

I lay where I was, letting the man wrench my feet out of shape. Others came near, but nobody gave them a hand. The bottom-up boat already had more men than it could hold and it was sinking.

And on this boat is really this, it's a sort of microcosm of humanity. As we floated around on our capsized boat and I kept straining my eyes for a ship's lights, somebody said, don't the rest of you think we ought to pray? The man who made the suggestion asked what the religion of the others was. Each man called out his religion. One was Catholic, one was Methodist, one was Presbyterian. It was decided that the most appropriate prayer for all was the Lord's Prayer. We spoke it over in chorus, but the man who first suggested that we pray as the leader.

So these 20 boats are within calling distance of each other. When Harold Bride says, I'm the wireless operator and I know Carpathia is coming to rescue us. This is really the only flicker of hope they have because once Titanic sunk, it was just gone.

And it wasn't like there was a lot of evidence of its passing and it was just ungodly quiet. And of course Carpathia came an hour and 10 minutes later. I saw some lights off in the distance and knew that a steamship was coming to our aid, but I didn't care what happened.

I just laid and gasped when I could. I felt the pain in my feet. And these were some of the last people to get aboard Carpathia and the water was starting to kick up and actually Carpathia could not maneuver correctly to get them to the side where they were.

They had to hoist most people in because they were too cold and too weak to climb up the rope ladder into Carpathia's hold. I tried the rope ladder. My feet pained badly, but I reached the top and felt the hands reaching out to me. The next thing I knew, a woman was leaning over me in a cabin and I felt her hand waving back my hair and rubbing my face. I felt somebody at my feet and the warmth of a jolt of liquor. Somebody got me under their arms. Then I was hustled down below to the hospital. That was early in the day, I guess. Then I passed out. Lawrence Beasley wrote when they were on Carpathia and he said it was strangely quiet.

Nobody said a word. Why was this? Well, because all these women who were mostly the survivors got on board realized then their husbands were gone and they were widows. There was a girl with a Browning camera and she took several photos and one of them is of a lifeboat that pulled up to the side of Carpathia and these people just looked so cold, but mostly how empty this lifeboat is. You know, it was so under loaded. And then she took another one of all these women just sitting on the deck wrapped up in blankets.

All these women who lost their husbands. So, you know, they really, I mean, for these people who were essentially shell-shocked and they didn't have that term yet because that term came from World War I, you know, five years later when these big shells would hit troops and they didn't know what was wrong with them. But they all had PTSD, no doubt. Harold Bride, he literally collapsed once he got on board Carpathia. They took him into this sort of makeshift hospital area. And then he woke up and they told me that the Carpathia's wireless man was getting queer.

And would I help? After that, I never left the wireless room, though I don't know what happened among the passengers. I just worked wireless.

The splitter never died down. I knew it soothed the hurt and felt like a tide to the world of friends and home. How could I take news queers? Sometimes I'd let a newspaper ask a question and get a long string of stuff asking for full particulars about everything. Whenever I started to take such a message, I thought that the poor people waiting for their messages to go, hoping for answers to them. I shut off the inquiries and sent my personal messages and I feel I did the right thing. I was still sending my messages when Mr. Marconi and Times reporter arrived to ask that I prepare this statement. There were maybe 100 left. I would like to send them all because I know I could get rest easier if I knew those messages had gone to the friends waiting for them. But an ambulance man was waiting with a stretcher and I guess I've got to go with him.

I hope my legs get better soon. And of course, Harold Bride would go on to live with his family after this and went back to the service for a little while. But then he left and I think he went into business, had a family, and disappeared from history. The heroes of Titanic were really Jack Phillips and Harold Bride and Captain Rostrum. Captain Rostrum was given the Congressional Medal of Honor, medals from the British, medals from groups, went on to an illustrious career. And these two pretty young guys put their own lives on the line and stayed at their post when they could have left at 2 a.m. when Captain Smith were leaving. They stayed all the way to the end and just kept trying to get somebody there to help them. And it's only through their efforts. Jack Phillips and Harold Bride, by staying at their post, they allowed those 700 people to survive. You know, I mean, you look at Titanic, you say, oh, it's a great catastrophe. Well, another way to look at it is it was really sort of an amazing rescue, that they were able to pluck these people from the middle of the North Atlantic at night and save them.

And that is only because of wireless technology. And, you know, there is a plan. When you think of heroics, and really it comes down to this, there's a plan to get the wireless room that's still on the floor of the Atlantic because it's basically falling apart and they want to get the setup. And if there was something embedded in those last coils, those last electromagnetic coils, you know, it would be that last message. And really, if you take their messages, really what they're saying is, will you come help us?

Will you come help us? And this is something that even today is still the same basic human plea. So really, I would say Captain Rostrum, Jack Phillips, Harold Bride, they were the heroes of Titanic. And a special thanks to William Hazelgrove. The book he wrote about this is called 160 Minutes, A Race to Save the RMS Titanic.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-05 05:40:26 / 2022-12-05 05:59:00 / 19

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