Harold Bride

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Harold Sydney Bride
Harold Bride.jpg
Harold Bride
Born (1890-01-11)11 January 1890
London, England
Died 29 April 1956(1956-04-29) (aged 66)
Glasgow, Scotland

Harold Sydney Bride (11 January 1890 – 29 April 1956) was the junior wireless officer on the ocean liner RMS Titanic during its ill-fated maiden voyage. After the Titanic struck an iceberg at 11:40 pm 14 April 1912, Bride and his senior colleague Jack Phillips were responsible for relaying SOS messages to ships in the vicinity, which led to the survivors being picked up by the RMS Carpathia. The men remained at their posts until the ship's power was almost completely out. Bride was washed off the ship as the boat deck flooded, but managed to scramble onto the upturned lifeboat Collapsible 'B', where he remained until being rescued by the Carpathia the following morning. Despite being injured, he helped the Carpathia's wireless operator transmit survivor lists and personal messages from the ship.

Early history[edit]

Harold Bride was born in Nunhead, London, England, in 1890 to Arthur Bride and Mary Ann Lowe. The youngest of five children, Bride lived with his family in Bromley. After primary school Bride decided he wanted to become a wireless operator and he worked in his family's business to help pay for training. He completed training for the Marconi Company in July 1911. Working for Marconi, his first sea assignment as a wireless operator was on the Haverford and later worked on the Beaverford, the LaFrance, the Lusitania, and the Anselm.

RMS Titanic[edit]

In 1912 Bride joined the White Star Line ocean liner RMS Titanic as the Junior Wireless operator and assistant to John "Jack" Phillips at Belfast, Ireland. Stories have appeared that Bride knew Phillips before Titanic, but Bride insisted that they had never met before Belfast.[1] The Titanic left on its maiden voyage to New York City, United States, from Southampton, England, on 10 April. During the voyage, from the wireless room on the Boat deck, Bride and Phillips sent out passengers' personal messages and received iceberg warnings from other ships. On 11 April, a day after the ship set sail, Phillips and Bride had celebrated Phillips' 25th birthday, with pastries brought from the first class dining room. On the evening of 14 April 1912 Bride had gone to bed early in preparation to relieve Jack Phillips at midnight, two hours earlier than normal. The wireless had not been working earlier and Phillips was busy catching up on a backlog of passengers' personal messages being sent to Cape Race, Newfoundland.

The Titanic hit an iceberg at 11:40 pm that night and began sinking. Bride woke up shortly after and asked Phillips what was happening. Phillips said they struck something; Bride acknowledged Phillips and began to get ready to go on duty. Captain Edward Smith soon came into the wireless room alerting Bride and Phillips to be ready to send out a distress signal. Shortly after midnight he came in and told them to request help and gave them the ship's position.

Bride being carried up the ramp of a ship

Jack Phillips sent out CQD while Bride took messages to the Captain about which ships were coming to Titanic's assistance. However, the closest ship to respond, the RMS Carpathia, wouldn’t reach Titanic until after it sank. At one point Bride reminded Phillips that the new code was SOS and jokingly[2] said, "Send SOS, it's the new call, and it may be your last chance to send it." Later Phillips took a quick break and Bride took over the wireless. Phillips soon returned to the wireless room reporting that the forward part of the ship was flooded and that they should put on more clothes and life vests. Bride began to get dressed while Phillips went back to work on the wireless machine.

The wireless power was almost completely out when Captain Smith arrived and told the men that they had done their duty and that they were relieved. Phillips continued working while Bride gathered some money and personal belongings. When his back was turned a crew member had sneaked in and was taking Phillips' life vest. Bride saw and grabbed the man while Phillips stood up and knocked the crew member out.[2] Water was coming onto the boat deck as they ran out of the wireless room and Bride began helping remove one of the last two lifeboats, Collapsible B, off the roof of the officer's quarters. The crew was unable to launch the boat before it was washed off the deck upside down. Bride was also washed off the deck and found himself beneath the overturned boat. He swam out from under and climbed onto the boat, on which he and fifteen other men were able to survive, although the collapsible was waterlogged and slowly sinking. Phillips, who had also made it to this boat, died shortly before rescue arrived. Bride and the others on B were later assisted into other lifeboats and were eventually taken aboard the RMS Carpathia.

On the Carpathia, the seriously injured Bride rested, and later helped the Carpathia's wireless operator, Harold Cottam, send out the large number of personal messages from the survivors. According to Encyclopedia Titanica: "Incidentally, Bride and Cottam had met before the disaster and were good friends. After the tragedy they stayed in contact for many years".[2][3]

Post–Titanic[edit]

Thrilling Story by Titanic's Surviving Wireless Man
Harold Bride, New York Times, 1919
Full audio (00:18:27). Text.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Bride, who had to be carried off the Carpathia because of his injuries to his feet (one was badly sprained, the other frostbitten),[4] was met in New York City by Guglielmo Marconi and The New York Times, which gave Bride $1,000 for his exclusive story, "Thrilling Story by Titanic's Surviving Wireless Man".[5] Bride later gave testimony in the American and British inquiries into the Titanic disaster, describing what iceberg warnings had been received and what had happened the night of the disaster.

In the American Inquiry, Bride was also questioned about ignoring requests for information, while on the Carpathia, from the press and the U.S. Navy, which wanted to know the fate of President Taft's personal friend and aide, Archibald Butt. Bride stated that priority was given to personal messages and survivor lists over answering questions from the press and claimed that the Navy did not understand British Morse signals, which the Navy denied. The Marconi Company was accused of secretly setting up the New York Times interview with Bride and telling him and Harold Cottam to keep quiet until they arrived in New York, but Marconi denied the accusations. This matter was not pursued, and Bride was considered one of the heroes of the disaster.[6]

Despite being a key witness in the inquiries, Bride kept a low profile after the sinking. Before Titanic, on 16 March 1912, he became engaged to Mabel Ludlow,[7] but he broke off the engagement in September when he met Lucy Downie, whom he married on 10 April 1920. In August 1912, London via Melbourne, records show Bride being aboard the SS Medina as a Marconi Operator. During World War I, Bride served as the wireless operator on the steamship Mona’s Isle, and in 1922 he and Lucy moved to Glasgow, where Bride became a salesman. They had three children: Lucy in 1921, John in 1924 and Jeanette in 1929.

Harold Bride died of lung cancer on 29 April 1956.

Film depictions[edit]

He was played by David McCallum in the 1958 film A Night to Remember, by Barry Pepper in the 1996 CBS-TV miniseries Titanic, by Craig Kelly in the 1997 film Titanic, and by Jake Swing in Thomas Lynskey's 2012 independent short film The Last Signals, a biographical drama about Bride.[8]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lane, Allison and Parks Stephenson. "Mr John George Phillips". Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved 23 July 2005. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b c Harold Bride, Surviving Wireless Operator of the Titanic (19 April 1912). "Thrilling Story by Titanic's Surviving Wireless Man; Bride Tells How He and Phillips Worked and How He Finished a Stoker Who Tried to Steal Phillips's Life Belt -- Ship Sank to Tune of 'Autumn'". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 July 2010. 
  3. ^ "Mr. Harold Sydney McBride." Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved 2010, 10 July.
  4. ^ Harold Bride (1912, 21 April). "Harold Bride Resting". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Testimony of Harold S. Bride, recalled (1912, 29 April). "United States Senate Titanic Inquiry, Day 10". Titanic Inquiry Project. 
  6. ^ Rutman, Sharon and Jay Stevenson (1998). The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Titanic. Alpha Books. ISBN 0-02-862712-1. 
  7. ^ Harold Bride (1912, 21 April). "Harold Bride Resting". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ IMDb Entry: The Last Signals, Retrieved 7 July 2013

References[edit]