British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 14

Testimony of Harold S. Bride, recalled

Further examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL.

16323. You have been sworn. In June, 1911, you had obtained your certificate of proficiency in radio-telegraphy from the Postmaster-General?
- Yes.

16324. And later on you were appointed by the marconi Company to serve as assistant wireless operator on the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

16325. When did you go on board the "Titanic"?
- I joined the "Titanic" in Belfast.

16326. When? Was that in the beginning of April?
- In the beginning of April.

16327. Was Mr. Phillips the senior operator?
- Yes.

16328. Did you find him there when you went there?
- Yes.

16329. Did he and you go through tests with several wireless stations?
- Yes.

16330. That was while the "Titanic" was on her trial test?
- Yes.

16331. For wireless? During the voyage from Belfast to Southampton?
- During the voyage from Belfast to Southampton, yes.

16332. Only one general question: Did you find the apparatus was in good working order?
- Perfect.

16333. First of all, will you tell us how were your duties arranged as regards time with Mr. Phillips? When did you go on watch? How long did you remain on duty? What were your hours?
- Mr. Phillips started the watch at eight o'clock at night, and he remained on watch until 2 o'clock in the morning.

16334. Was that your regular practice?
- That was Mr. Phillips's watch of a nighttime. I kept the watch from 2 o'clock to 8 o'clock in the morning.

16335. That is six hours each on duty?
- Yes.

16336. You divided up the time from 8 o'clock at night until 8 o'clock in the morning in that way?
- Yes.

16337. What did you do with regard to day duty - the same?
- During the day we relieved each other to suit each other's convenience.

16338. No regular time at all?
- No, but a constant watch was kept.

16339. (The Commissioner.) You mean that there was always one of you there?
- Yes.

16340. (The Attorney-General.) Will you just tell us - for the present I am only going to ask you this simply - Is there a Marconi room on board the vessel on which you have to operate?
- Yes.

16341. And there was on the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

16342. (The Attorney-General.) No doubt your Lordship saw the room on the "Olympic." (To the witness.) That is quite close to the bridge, is it not?
- Quite close to the bridge.

16343. (The Commissioner.) I suppose it is in the same position as the marconi room on the "Olympic"?
- I believe there is a difference.

16344. In the position?
- In the exact position of the cabin.

16345. Is it in practically the same place?
- It is in practically the same place.

16346. (The Attorney-General.) Has your Lordship the plan of the "Titanic" - do you see where it is? It is just forward of what is marked as the elevator gear. (To the witness.) I want to know a little about this. There are, I see, three rooms; there is what is called the silent room, which is, I suppose, the room in which you work where you receive and transmit?
- No, the silent room is the one we use for transmitting.

16347. Then there is another room called the marconi room. What is that?
- That is the room where we sit to receive and send our messages.

16348. Then bedroom?
- That is the bedroom.

16349. Is that for both or one of you?
- For both.

16350. I am not sure that I understand what you said about the difference between the silent room and the marconi room. Do you transmit in a different room to the one in which you receive?
- The silent room contains the alternator and the motor and the spark gap, and it is made silent so that the noise from the sparks shall not disturb anybody round about there. You can close the sound entirely out, and it is connected through to the operating room, and the key is in the operating room.

16351. What I want to know about this for the moment is, when you speak of the silent room do you mean you only transmit in that room? Your answer to me was that "it is the room in which we transmit messages." Do you understand?
- Yes.

16352. Do you mean that it is the room in which you only transmit messages?
- It is the room which contains the transmitting gear.

16353. Do you mean you do only transmit from there?
- Yes.

16354. Is the marconi room then the room in which you would only receive messages?
- No.

16355. That is why I want you to tell us. What is that?
- The transmitting gear is inside the silent room, and it is connected through by means of wires to the key in the marconi room which we operate. The receiving apparatus is in the marconi room.

16356. That is what I wanted. You, I suppose, were in the habit of recording messages, were you, in the ordinary way?
- Yes.

16357. While you were on the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

16358. I must ask you as a matter of form. There are no records at all that have been preserved of the messages to the "Titanic," none of the "Titanic" records?
- No.

16359. Would you tell us so far as you are able what was the first message you recollect with regard to ice reports?
- The first message I recollect on the 14th April was from the "Californian."

16360. That is the first you recollect?
- Yes, and the last.

16361. Is it the only one?
- It is the only one I recollect.

16362. That is on the 14th?
- Yes.

16363. Just before I ask you about that - that is speaking of the 14th, but had you had any messages before the 14th that you recollect?
- No.

16364. Would you tell me what was the message that you recollect receiving on the 14th. Do you recollect the time when you received it?
- The time was between five and half-past in the afternoon, ship's time. It stated that the "Californian" was passing close to large icebergs and gave the latitude and longitude.

16365. (The Attorney-General.) Your Lordship will recollect that is very much what Mr. Evans said at page 201. He says 5.35, and the witness says about 5.30. (To the witness.) Was that a message to you, or was it merely a message which you overheard?
- It was a message intended for me in the first place, but which I overheard afterwards.

16366. I am not quite sure that I understand what you mean by that. Was it a message which was directed to you?
- It was not directed.

16367. Were you called up?
- It was not directed to me, but I took it down for delivery.

16368. (The Commissioner.) Do you mean by taking it down writing it down?
- Yes.

16369. (The Attorney-General.) Do you always write the messages down which you receive?
- Yes.

16370. Is that the invariable practice?
- Invariable.

16371. Do you also write the messages which you send?
- They are generally written for us.

16372. And put before you for the purpose of your transmitting them?
- Yes.

16373. What ship was sending the message?
- The "Californian."

16374. For whom was the message intended?
- To the best of my recollection it was the "Baltic."

16375. How would you know that?
- By the call letters.

16376. Which would indicate the "Baltic"?
- Yes.

16377. Was that the message which you first overheard?
- Yes.

16378. What did you do? What I want to know is could you tell whether the "Baltic" was receiving the message?
- The "Baltic" did eventually receive the message.

16379. How do you know that?
- Because she acknowledged it to the "Californian."

16380. Did you hear the message from the "Baltic" to the "Californian"?
- Yes.

16381. Did you realise from that that it was an ice report?
- Yes.

16382. Then during this time did you know that there was any message that the "Californian" had for you?
- I knew it was the same message that the "Californian" had for me.

16383. You mean that your letters were called: is that it?

Sir Robert Finlay:

16384. (The Attorney-General - To the witness.) Just let us see what you mean by that. I understood you to tell us that you heard the message between the "Californian' and the "Baltic." Is that what you have said?
- Yes.

16385. How do you know the message was for you?
- Because the "Californian" had called me previously and said she had an ice report for me.

16386. Then you heard what was taking place, and you knew what the report was?
- Yes.

Sir Robert Finlay:
I think that the message was sent to the "Titanic," but, as I understand the witness, he was busy and did not attend to it at the time. That was a message to the "Titanic." Then afterwards he heard the same message repeated to the "Baltic."

The Attorney-General:
I do not think that is what he said.

The Solicitor-General:
That is neither his evidence nor is it the fact.

The Attorney-General:
I have not heard the witness say a word about that, but we will see. It may be right. All I mean is that it is not as I understood what was the witness's evidence, because he has not said that.

Sir Robert Finlay:
I understood him to say he did not acknowledge the message when it was sent to the "Titanic," and he afterwards heard the same message being sent by the "Californian" to the "Baltic."

16387. (The Attorney-General.) It may be so; we will get it quite clear. It is quite possible that is right. (To the witness.) Was that right? Did you hear what my learned friend Sir Robert Finlay said just now?
- Perfectly correct.

16388. So that although you knew you were called, you had something else to do; you were busy at the time?
- Yes.

16389. Then you eventually overheard it?
- Yes.

16390. (The Commissioner.) I do not want you to skip over that. What business had you that you were attending to at the moment?
- I was attending to another branch of my work.

16391. What branch?
- I was writing up the accounts.

16392. Pounds, shillings and pence, you mean?
- Yes.

16393. The account book?
- Yes.

16394. That is what you were attending to at that particular time?
- Yes.

16395. (The Attorney-General.) Did you send any message yourself in answer?
- Yes, I acknowledged the receipt of the report.

16396. To whom?
- To the "Californian."

16397. Do you remember what it was you said?
- Not the exact words, but it was to the effect that I had overheard him send it and that I had taken it down.

The Attorney-General:
Your Lordship will remember, if you want the passage where this is dealt with by Evans, it is at page 202, Question 8972: "(Q.) What did the 'Titanic' say to you when you offered your ice report? - (A.) He said: 'It is all right; I heard you sending it to the 'Antillian,' and I have got it."

16398. (The Commissioner - To the witness.) Do you remember sending such a message?
- It was a message to that effect, but there was no mention made of a ship's name.

16399. That is what I wanted to know. Do you remember ever having referred to the
- In a case like that you would refer to the ship's call letters; you would not mention the ship by name.

16400. I suppose the man on the "Californian" would have the corresponding letters?
- Yes.

16401. Do you remember referring to the call-letters of a ship called the "Antillian"?
- I remember referring to the call-letters of a ship which I understood to be the "Baltic."

16402. (The Attorney-General.) Whatever it is, whether you recollect the letters or the name of the ship or not, it was a ship with which the "Californian" was in communication - is that right?
- Yes.

16403. And whose message you overheard?
- Yes.

16404. So far, your recollection is clear?
- Yes. I see in America - I am going to read a passage from the evidence you gave in America with regard to the message, which is on April 20th, 1912.

The Commissioner:
I have not got the American evidence.

The Attorney-General:
I thought I handed it up. Your Lordship need not be troubled with it; we will get the effect of the evidence from this Witness.

The Commissioner:
That is what I mean. I do not ask for it, but I presume that whenever it is referred to the reference to it will be on the shorthand notes.

The Attorney-General:

The Commissioner:
For instance, what you are to say at present will be taken down on the shorthand notes.

16405. (The Attorney-General.) Yes. (To the witness.) I would like you to tell the exact language of that message. If you will follow what I am putting to you, this is your answer: "(Q.) It stated that the 'Californian' had passed three large icebergs, and gave their latitude and longitude? - (A.) That they passed three large icebergs, yes." And then you are asked, "And gave their latitude and longitude. (A.) Yes, she passed very close to them." And then you were asked whether you recollected the latitude and longitude, and you said you did not. That is the evidence you gave in America?
- Yes.

16406. I take it that evidence is right?
- That is correct.

The Attorney-General:
The message which has already been read, which I will just refer to again, which was actually sent, your Lordship will remember, "Three large bergs five miles to southward of us. Regards."

The Commissioner:
There is the latitude and longitude.

The Attorney-General:
Yes, I am going to refer to that; I wanted to get first the actual facts to bring them to his recollection: "Three large bergs five miles to southwards of us. Regards"; but you see how it begins, "6.30 p.m., A.T.S." which is we know the ship's time. Then there is the latitude 42.3º N., and the longitude 49.9º W.

16407. (The Commissioner.) The message begins "To Captain, Antillian."

The Witness:

The Attorney-General:
It is sent off at 5.35.

The Commissioner:
At 6.30 p.m. those three large bergs were noticed.

The Attorney-General:
Your Lordship will recollect that the time which is there mentioned is the time at which they are seen and the latitude and longitude are there given. I think it is unnecessary to go further into that. We could show, if it had been necessary, from the procès-verbal that the "Californian" message was not to the "Baltic," that they were not in communication with the "Baltic' at that time at all, and that the message we have got is the message from the Captain of the "Californian" to the "Antillian," and no doubt is the message which is before you.

The Commissioner:
Is he mistaken when he says that he thinks the message was to the "Baltic."

16408. (The Attorney-General.) I think so, according to what we have got. (To the witness.) You said you thought it was to the "Baltic." I have called your attention to the only message which we have got, at least of which we know so far, which is a message from the "Californian" to the "Antillian," sent at about 5.30 and giving this information about the "three large icebergs, five miles to the southward of us." Is there any reason you have to recollect that it was to the "Baltic"? May it have been this message to the "Antillian"?
- There is no special reason why I should recollect the "Baltic" beyond the fact that it was on my mind from the time I landed in New York, and that was the evidence I gave on the saturday.

16409. I think I understand what you mean?
- At the same time we had many communications and on the Sunday the traffic was very heavy.

16410. (The Commissioner.) You were very busy on the Sunday?
- Very busy.

16411. (The Attorney-General.) According to your recollection when you gave the evidence in America you thought it was a communication from the "Californian" intended for the "Baltic"?
- Yes.

16412. What did you do when you got that message?
- I delivered it to the Officer on the bridge.

16413. Do you remember who the Officer on the bridge was?
- No, I was not acquainted with the Officers.

16414. But whatever it was, I understand it was the ice report which you have told us of, and you delivered that at once to the Officer on the bridge?
- Yes.

16415. Was that what you always did when you got a message - well, what is your objection, Sir Robert?

Sir Robert Finlay:
My objection is that we know what he did when he heard the message to the "Titanic." However -

16416. (The Attorney-General - To the witness.) What was your practice when you got a message?
- If it was for the navigating staff or the Captain we delivered it personally.

The Commissioner:
You scarcely had a practice on board the "Titanic," because it was her first voyage. You may have had a practice on some of the other ships.

The Attorney-General:
He was there for some days, of course.

16417. (The Commissioner.) Yes, he was there for some days. (To the witness.) This is the only ice message, as far as I have gathered, that you can tell us anything about?
- It was our practice if a message -

16418. Never mind about your practice at present. I am asking you, was this the only ice message that you remember being received on board the "Titanic"?
- It was the only ice message, but it was not the only message for Captain Smith.

The Attorney-General:
I did not ask him about a practice as to an ice message, My Lord.

16419. (The Commissioner.) No, but I am thinking about ice messages. (To the witness.) Did you receive any other message that you can remember that concerned in any way the navigation of the ship?
- None that I can recollect.

16420. Then this is the only message you received during the whole of this voyage that could in any way affect the navigation of the ship?
- Yes.

16421. And you say you delivered it?
- Yes.

16422. Then I do not know what practice you could have about such messages on that ship; you may have had a practice on other ships?
- There were messages coming through for Captain Smith all the time, but they did not affect the navigation of the ship.

16423. (The Attorney-General.) I did not think he had said that, nor was he asked, My Lord. I did not think he had said anything to the contrary of that nor had he been asked. I asked what the practice was when he got a message. I agree that the important thing is to know what happened with regard to an ice message as to which there could not be a practice. (To the witness.) What I wanted to ask you was this. You told us there were a number of messages which came through for Captain Smith; by name, do you mean?
- Yes.

16424. Of course, those would be delivered to him personally?
- Personally.

16425. (The Commissioner.) Would they be delivered to an Officer of the ship, or to the Captain to whom they were addressed?
- They were invariably delivered to the Captain.

16426. This was not addressed to the Captain?
- No.

16427. And you simply delivered it to an Officer on the bridge?
- Yes.

16428. (The Attorney-General.) Could you tell us how long it was after you got the message that you delivered it on the bridge?
- About two minutes.

16429. Did it strike you as an important message?
- Well, those sort of messages are looked upon as important.

16430. So that you would deliver it as soon as you could?
- Yes.

16431. All that you would have to do is to take down the message and go from your room on to the bridge to deliver it to the Officer?
- Yes.

16432. And that is your recollection of what you did?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
Sir Robert, is there any doubt that this message did come to the knowledge of the Officers.

Sir Robert Finlay:
I think there is no doubt at all, My Lord.

The Attorney-General:
We need not pursue it.

Sir Robert Finlay:
No; the point is when.

16433. (The Attorney-General.) One moment. When it came to the notice of the Officers of the ship?
- This Witness says that he gave it two minutes after it was received. (To the witness.) Were you at this time, that is at the time you received the message, receiving messages from a number of ships?
- Yes.

16434. Were those messages which you had to relay to Cape Race?
- The majority.

16435. (The Attorney-General.) It is suggested by my learned friend, Sir Robert, your Lordship will recollect, that they were busy on the 14th, and I am to show that he was on the 13th as well receiving messages in this way. (To the witness.) You would get a number of messages which would come to you which you would then have to relay and transmit to Cape Race?
- Yes.

16436. As I understand you, from the time you received that message until the "Titanic" sank, so far as you are concerned, there was no other ice report?
- No.

16437. That is right, is it not?
- Yes.

16438. That is to say, you received none. Did you have any conversation at all with Mr. Phillips about ice messages?
- No.

16439. Nothing passed between you?
- Nothing at all.

16440. How long did you continue to receive messages before going away on this day - before going down to your dinner?
- To the best of my recollection -

The Commissioner:
What was the time?

16441. (The Attorney-General.) I know, but I want him to tell us; it was some time in the evening.

The Witness:
To the best of my recollection I went off watch between 6 and 7.

16442. At what time did you dine as a Rule?
- Seven o'clock.

16443. Then did you go to your dinner that evening do you remember?
- Yes.

16444. About that time?
- Yes.

16445. You can recollect that?
- Yes.

When did you come up again?

The Commissioner:
You say he can.

The Attorney-General:
I said he could because he had a pleasant smile about it.

The Commissioner:
I doubt very much whether he can remember going to his dinner that evening. He knows he had it.

16446. (The Attorney-General - To the witness.) I rather gathered from your pleasant recollections that you do remember it?
- I do remember it.

16447. (The Commissioner.) Do you remember every dinner you ever had?
- Well, not quite.

16448. (The Attorney-General.) But you went down and had your dinner; when was it you came up again?
- I could not give you any correct idea of the time.

Of course it is very difficult we know; you have not got your records, and we also know what has happened since. What I want you to do is to give us to the best of your ability what you recollect about it.

The Commissioner:
I do not want any answer unless he does recollect it.

The Attorney-General:
I agree; but we must try to find out from him.

The Commissioner:
Do try, but as to the events of this morning, I want to be as sure as I possibly can.

The Attorney-General:
Your Lordship must know how he recollects it before you can tell what value to attribute to the evidence.

The Commissioner:
That is why I want to know whether he does recollect at all.

The Attorney-General:
I quite agree. (To the witness.) Do you recollect coming up again from your dinner?

The Commissioner:
He cannot recollect; there is no use his saying to me he can recollect. He may know he did come up.

The Attorney-General:
Your Lordship will hear what happened afterwards, and you will find that he does recollect.

The Commissioner:
I can quite imagine that if he met some particular person, he might possibly recollect it; otherwise it is impossible.

16449. (The Attorney-General - To the witness.) We may be quite sure about this - that you did not stop down at dinner all that night?
- No.

16450. After you had had your dinner, did you have any conversation at all with Mr. Phillips?
- Yes, we chatted for a long while.

16451. Where was it you had this chat?
- In the marconi room.

16452. So that you had come up from your dinner to the marconi room?
- Yes.

16453. Do you remember how long it was after you went down to dinner that you had this chat with him in the marconi room?
- Somewhere about 20 minutes to half-an-hour.

16454. (The Commissioner.) What is this 20 minutes that you remember?
- For my dinner - about 20 minutes to half-an-hour I have for my dinner.

16455. I understand now from you that you recollect not only coming up from your dinner (that you did come up, of course we know.), but you recollect 20 minutes' conversation with Mr. Phillips. Is that what you mean to say?
- No, I was asked how long was it after I went down for my dinner before I returned, and I say it was between 20 minutes and half-an-hour.

The Attorney-General:
He did not say that he had 20 minutes' conversation with Mr. Phillips. The question I put to him was that he had some conversation with Mr. Phillips in the marconi room, and I asked him how long that was after he had gone down to his dinner, so as to get some idea of the time.

The Commissioner:
You asked him how long the conversation was.

16456. (The Attorney-General - To the witness.) It was in answer to that you said 20 minutes to half-an-hour?
- Yes.

16457. In talking to him, was communication established, can you tell me, with Cape Race?
- No.

16458. Was it established during that evening?
- Yes.

Continued >