I turned 25 April 11, Titanic’s second day out. John Phillips, senior wireless operator, at your service. One telgraphist is the norm, but liners this size have two. My assistant, Harold Bride, and I man the system ’round the clock, alternating six-hour shifts. We’ve been glued to our seats since Southampton, monitoring the usual navigational info of other ships but overwhelmed by passenger requests.
Work piled up when an equipment failure temporarily shut us down, and we’re still swamped with a huge backlog –mostly passenger messages that must be sent no matter what. I haven’t time tonight to talk icebergs with operators on other ships. One says large bergs are in our path, and another is surrounded by them and can’t move. All I can do is put their warnings aside till later.
Harold relieved me after 11 p.m., but an iceberg cut short my rest. I dashed back to the wireless room, where Harold and I tapped out frantic calls for help. Captain Smith ordered SOS and CQD distress signals, which meant Titanic was doomed. I told Harold to make a break and remained at my post. As the room flooded, the captain released me from duty, saying, “It’s every man for himself now.”
Special Edition – True Titanic Stories- 1st Class Maid Jaynee tells the story of John “Jack” Phillips on Video. Click Here.