On this day in history : 29th April 1956 – The death of Harold Bride, Junior Wireless Officer during the ill-fated maiden voyage of RMS Titanic – but who managed to survive….
Harold Sydney Bride was born in Nunhead, London on the 11th of January 1890, the youngest of five children…. On deciding he wanted to be a wireless operator he trained with Marconi, completing his training in July 1911…. His first sea assignment was onboard the American transatlantic liner SS Haverford…. He had further postings on the Beaverford, LaFrance, the Lusitania and the Anslem, before in 1912 joining the crew of RMS Titanic as Junior Wireless Officer, assisting Jack Phillips….
The Titanic left Southampton bound for New York on the 10th of April….The wireless room was situated on the Boat Deck and amongst the operators’ duties was to send personal messages on behalf of the passengers…. Another crucial duty was to receive iceberg warnings from other ships….
On the evening of the 14th of April Bride was grabbing a few hours sleep before he was due to take over from Phillips at midnight…. The pair were trying to clear a backlog of messages to be sent for passengers – as the radio had not been working properly earlier….
The Titanic struck an iceberg at 11.40pm…. Bride woke and rushed to find out what had happened…. Phillips told him they had struck something and Bride hurried to finish his preparations to go on duty…. Shortly afterwards Captain Smith appeared and asked the two wireless operators to be on standby to send out a distress signal…. Just after midnight he reappeared, giving them the ship’s position and ordering them to request help….
Phillips sent out the distress call and Bride acted as messenger to keep the Captain informed as to which ships may come to the now sinking Titanic’s aid…. The closest ship was RMS Carpathia – unfortunately it did not arrive until after the Titanic had gone down….
Phillips and Bride remained at their post sending out SOS signals…. By now Bride was wearing a life jacket, Phillips was still to put his on…. The Captain came in to tell them that their duty was done and that they were relieved…. Bride went to fetch some personal belongings – whilst Phillips continued to work…. When Bride returned he discovered another crew member attempting to steal Phillips’ life jacket – he managed to grab hold of the man and Phillips rose and knocked the crew member out…. By now water was flooding into the wireless room….
Bride began to help launch one of the two remaining lifeboats – only it was to be washed off the deck inside down….with Bride beneath it…. Somehow he managed to swim out and climb on to the upturned boat…. He and 15 other men managed to cling on until they were taken into other lifeboats and eventually RMS Carpathia…
Although badly injured Bride was able to help Harold Cottom, Carpathia’s wireless operator, send out scores of messages from other Titanic survivors…. Bride had badly sprained one of his feet, the other was severely frost bitten – he had to be carried from the Carpathia – but was greeted by Guglielmo Marconi himself…. He received $1,000 from the New York Times for his exclusive story – and later gave evidence at the inquest….
Bride went on to marry Lucy Downie in April 1920 and they had three children…. He continued to be a Marconi wireless operator and in World War 1 served as an operator onboard the steamship ‘Mona’s Isle’…. In 1922 he retired from service, settled in Glasgow and worked as a salesman…. He died aged 66 of lung cancer….