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Wireless Operator Harold Bride

Sending For Help

Wireless Operator Harold Bride, Recalls the Band Playing Autumn, Sheet MusicI was standing by Phillips , the chief operator, telling him to go to bed, when the captain put his head into the cabin.

"We've struck an iceberg," the captain said "and I'm having an inspection made to tell what it has done to us. You better get ready to send out a call for assisitance. But don't send it until I tell you."

The captain went a away and with in ten minutes he was back. We could hear a terrible confusion outaide, but there was not the least thing to indicate that there was any trouble. The wireless was working perfectly.

"Send the call for ssistance," ordered the captain, barely putting his head in the door.

"What call shall I send?" Phillips asked.

" The regulation international call for help. Just that."

Then the captain was gone. Phillips began to send " C.Q.D." He flashed away at it and we joked while he did so. All of us made light of the disaster.

" The Carpathia answered our signal. We told her our position and said we were sinking by the head. The operator went to tell the captain and in 5 minutes returned and told us that the captain of the Carpathia was putting about and heading for us.

Our captain had left us at this time and Phillips told me to run and tell him what the Carpathia had answered. I did so and then went through an awfully big crowd of people to get to his cabin. The decks were full of scrambling men and women. I saw no fighting, but I heard stories of it.

I came back and heard Phillips giving the Carpathia full directions. Phillips told me to put on my clothes. Until that moment I forgot that I was not dressed.

I went to my cabin and dressed. I bought an overcoat to Phillips. It was extremely cold. I slipped the overcoat over him whilst he worked.

Every few minutes Phillips would send me to the captain with little messages. They were merely telling how Carpathia was coming our way and gave her speed.

Wireless Grows Weaker

I noticed as I came back from one trip that they were putting women and children into lifeboats. I noticed that the list forward was increasing. Phillips told me the wireless was growing weaker. The captain came and told us our engine rooms were taking on water and that the dynamos might not last much longer. We sent the word to Carpathia.

I went out on deck and looked around. The water was pretty close up to the boat deck. There was a great scramble aft and how poor Phillips worked through it right to the end I do not know.

He was a brave man. I learnt to love him that night and I suddenly felt for him a great reverence to see him standing there sticking to his work while everybody else was raging about. I will never live to forget the work of Phillips for the last awful 15 minutes.

I thought it was about time to look about and see if there was anything detached that would float. I remembered that every member of the crew had a special lifebelf and ought to know where it was. I remembered mine was under my bunk. I went and got it. Then I thought how cold the water was.

I remembered I had an extra jacket and a pair of boots and I put them on. I saw Phillips standing out there still sending away, giving the Cappathia details of just how we were doing.

We picked up the Olympia and told her we were sinking by the head and were about all down. As Phillips was sending the message I strapped his lifebelt to his back. I had already put on his overcoat. Every minute was precious, so I helped himall I could.

From the aft came the tunes of the band. It was a ragtime tune, I don't know what. Then there was 'Autumn'. Phillips ran aft and that was the last time I ever saw him.

To The Lifeboats !

I went to the place where I had seen a collapsible lifeboat on the boat deck and to my surprise I saw the boat and the men still trying to push it off. I guess there wasn't a sailor in the crowd. They couldn't do it. I went up to them and was just lending a hand when a large wave washed over the deck.

The big wave carried the lifeboat off the deck.

But that was not all. I was in the boat and the boat was upside down and I was under it. And I remember realizing I was wet through and that whatever happened I must not breathe because I was underwater.

I knew I had to fight for it and I did. How I got out from under the lifeboat 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 lifebelts. I felt I simply had to get away from the ship. She was a beautiful sight then.

Floating in the Atlantic

Smoke and sparks were rushing out of her funnel and there was must have been an explosion but we hadn't heard it. We only saw the the big stream of sparks. The ship was gradually turning on her nose, just like a duck does when diving. I had one thing on my mind, to get away from the suction. The band was still playing and I guess they all went down. They were playing 'Autumn' then. I swam with all my might. I suppose I was anout 150 feet when the Titanic, on her nose, with her after quarter sticking straight up in the air, began to settle, slowly.

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 just slowly as she had been.

I forgot to mention that, besides the Olympic and Carpathia, we spoke to a German boat, I don't know which, and told them of our troubles. We also spoke to the Baltic. I remembered those things as I began to figure what ships would be coming towards us.

I felt, after a little while, like sinking. I was so cold. I saw a boat of some kind 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.

There was just enough room for me to roll on the edge. I lay there, not really caring what happened. Somebody sat on my legs; they were wedged in between slats and were being wrenched. I had not the heart left to ask the man to move. It was a terrible sight all around, men swimming and drowning.

I lay where I was , letting the man wrench my feet out of shape. Others came near. Nobaody gave them a hand. The overturned boat already had more men than it would hold and it was sinking.

At first the larger waves splashed over my head and I had to breathe when I could.

Some splendid people saved us. There boat had not capsized and it was full to capacity. Yet they came to us and loaded us all into it. I saw some lights off in the distance and knew a steamship was coming to our aid.

I didn't care what happened. I just lay and grasped when I could and felt the pain in my feet. At last the Carpathia was alongside our boat and the people were being taken up a rope ladder. Our boat drew near and one by one the men were taken off.

And The Band Played On

The way the band kept playing was a noble thing. I heard it first while we were working the wireless, when there was a ragtime tune for us and the last I saw of the band was when I was flaoting out in the sea, with my lifebelt on, they were still on deck playing 'Autumn'. How they ever did it I cannot imagine.

That and the way Phillips kept sending after the captain told him his life was his own and to look out for himself, are two things that stand out in my mind over all the rest.