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Titanic wireless man sticks to keys with legs beneath water

NEW YORK, April 19, 1912 (UP) -- At the very head of the list of wireless heroes must be placed the name of George Phillips, the young Englishman who was in charge of the wireless room on the ill-fated Titanic, and who paid with his life the price of his faithfulness to duty.

Phillips was at his key when the Titanic struck the iceberg which broke her back. His assistant, Harold Bride, had just gotten out of bed to relieve him, and was standing beside Phillips, clad in his pajamas, when they both felt a light jar.

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A moment later, Capt. Smith came to the door of the wireless room and told Phillips that the ship had struck an iceberg and that the extent of the damage was being ascertained.

"You may have to send out the call for assistance," the captain said as he left.

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In 10 minutes he was back. He told Phillips to send the call for help in the international code. The two wireless officers stood laughing and joking as Phillips flashed the call, having no idea that they were in real danger.

The Carpathia soon answered and Phillips sent Bride to tell the captain that she was coming to help them.

"Then I dressed," said Bride, who was found in the wireless room of the Carpathia helping the Carpathia's overworked operator. "I slipped an overcoat onto Phillips too, and for some time I ran back and forth between him and Capt. Smith with messages.

"The wireless kept growing weaker and weaker as water crept into the engine rooms and flooded the dynamos. But there remained some current and Phillips stuck to his key.

"I strapped a lifebelt on myself and onto Phillips. He was talking to the Olympic and telling them how desperate our plight was, when Capt. Smith came and told us we had done all we could and for us to look out for ourselves.

"But Phillips stayed at his post. The water came up around his legs, but he stuck to his key, trying to reach any ship he could to get out every call for help that he could possibly send.

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"It must have been 10 minutes, anyway, after the captain released him before the current gave out and he had to quit.

"I had gone out to see what chance we had of getting into a boat, and just as I came back for him a man from below was trying to take off his back the life preserver I had put on him. I laid the man out and Phillips and I ran aft.

"We separated, and I never saw him alive again. I'll never forget his sticking to that key, with the water washing his legs, when the captain himself told him to save himself. He would have stuck longer if he had been able to send anything."

Bride was saved in one of the lifeboats that left the Titanic, and after a few hours rest on the Carpathia he turned in and helped her operator send and receive the flood of messages that deluged the rescue ship.

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