Harold Sidney Bride was born to Arthur and Mary Ann (Rowe) Bride on January 11, 1890 in Hull, England. Harold's siblings were Arthur, Frank, Edwin and a sister Marie Celeste.
The family later moved to Shortlands, Kent, and at the time of the Titanic disaster resided at 58 Ravensbourne Avenue (Arthur Bride died sometime between 1918 and 1922).
At the age of 20, he scandalised the neighbourhood by building an antenna in his father's garden so he could practice telegraphy. He attended the Marconi training school in Liverpool where he was awarded a Certificate in Wireless Telegraphy in June 1911. He received his first sea-going appointment at that time.
Harold Bride joined the Marconi International Marine Communications Company in the summer of 1911, and served aboard the ships Haverford, Lusitania, Lafranc, Anselm, and Titanic.
After the sinking, he worked as a telegrapher in a London post office, then returned to the sea in 1913 as a wireless operator aboard SS Medina. In 1914, he was assigned to a relay station on the coast of Scotland (actually one of the first of wireless interception - ie: "spy" stations).
Leaving the employ of Marconi sometime in 1916, Bride served aboard HMS Mona’s Isle, a net layer, in1918 and 1919. His last seagoing assignment was as wireless operator on the Cross-Channel Ferry, until 1922.
After the sinking he received a hero's welcome when he returned home to Beckenham - his old teachers said it was their compulsory swimming classes that saved him….
Surviving relatives describe him as a small stocky man with curly hair, who loved a good joke.
Harold Bride died of lung cancer on April 29, 1956.
Harold Sidney Bride
(as of August 25, 1999)
© 1999 by Scott Anderson
(reproduced with permisison)
In beginning my research, I posted inquiries to various genealogical newsletters, as well as sending inquiries to amateur radio operators and organizations, and organizations devoted to the history of early wireless, including the Antique Wireless Association, of which I am a member. My earliest contacts were from the genealogical sources.
I was first contacted by Kathryn Goddard Meyer, who is Harold Bride’s cousin (her mother was Harold’s first cousin). She informed me that Harold was the youngest of five children, and that he had three brothers- Arthur, Frank, and Edwin- and a sister, Marie Celeste. Harold’s parents were Arthur John Larner Bride and Mary Ann Lowe, and his grandparents on his father’s side were John Henry Bride and Mary Ann Larner.
Harold’s father was one of 7 children. In 1869, John and Mary Bride emigrated to the United States and settled in Brooklyn, New York. Two of the children, Arthur and Thomas Henry Larner Bride, remained in England. John Henry Bride had run a successful shirt and collar manufacturing business in England that employed twenty persons, and is believed by both Kathryn Meyer and, according to her, her British cousins, to have left Great Britain due to financial problems.
Mrs. Meyer went on to say that the family in America changed their names to Jarvis, including the children (Charles George, her grandfather; Augusta Clara; Mildred Alice; and Walter Edward [another child, Mary Ann, had died as an infant]). According to her, Harold stayed with her grandparents while in New York during the 1912 US Senate Titanic hearings. This can be substantiated by a comment in the record of the proceedings as follows:
Senator SMITH. Is Mr. Bride, the Marconi operator of the Titanic present?
Mr. MARCONI. No, sir.
Senator SMITH. Where has he gone?
Mr. MARCONI. He has gone to some house uptown, where he is going to be looked after, sir.
Senator SMITH. Has he gone to some hospital?
Mr. SAMMIS. No, Senator, he has gone to the house of some relative of his. I heard you tell him that you were not going to question him anymore to-day, so I sent him along.
This may be further substantiated by an article in the New York Times of April 20, 1912, which details Bride’s visit to the home of "his uncle", Walter E. Jarvis of West 92nd Street, New York City, in the company of Harold Thomas Cottam, wireless operator aboard R.M.S. Carpathia. An additional reference is Bride’s report, concerning the Titanic sinking, to W.R. Cross, traffic manager for the Marconi Company, which is addressed from 294 West 92nd Street, New York, and in which he makes reference to "…staying with relatives and waiting orders from the Marconi Co. here…"
Mrs. Meyer also stated that Arthur Bride, Harold’s father, visited the United States in 1914 and 1915 (exact dates and reason for the visits not known to this writer).
Marconi (L) and Harold Bride (R) at the US Enquiry
I would like to state at this point that, while not part of my research per se, it is not my belief that Harold Bride and Jack Phillips, the senior operator, ever served together, on the White Star Line’s Adriatic or elsewhere, prior to assignment aboard Titanic at Belfast, despite what is often stated to the contrary. My basis for this belief stems from three items-- (1), Bride’s direct statement on the matter on the second day of the US Senate inquiry, as follows:
Senator SMITH. Were you acquainted with any of the officers or
the crew of the Titanic when you entered service on that boat?
Mr. BRIDE. No, sir,
Senator SMITH. Had you sailed with any of them before?
Mr. BRIDE. No, sir.
Senator SMITH. Were you acquainted with Mr. Phillips?
Mr. BRIDE. Not until I saw him in Belfast.
Senator SMITH. Was he in Belfast?
Mr. BRIDE. Yes, sir.
Senator SMITH. Once or oftener?
Mr. BRIDE. I went up to Belfast to join the Titanic.
Senator SMITH. Did you join her in Belfast?
Mr. BRIDE. Yes, sir.
(2), an additional statement made by him at the inquiry:
Senator SMITH. What is your occupation?
Mr. BRIDE. Wireless-telegraph operator.
Senator SMITH. How long have you been engaged in that business?
Mr. BRIDE. Since the beginning of last July , sir.
Senator SMITH. What service have you seen since then?
Mr. BRIDE. I have been to America, here, three times and down to
Brazil three times.
Senator SMITH. On what boats?
Mr. BRIDE. I went to Philadelphia on the Haverford, twice to New
York on the Lusitania, once to Brazil on the Lanfranc, and twice
to Brazil on the Anselm.
and (3), an article in the Daily Sketch of London, dated April 18, 1912, in which an unnamed official of the Marconi Company is quoted as giving Bride’s service with the same particulars as Bride himself at the US inquiry.
Harold Bride (L in wheelchair) and Harold Cottham (R/O Carpathia) at the US enquiry
My next contacts came from Bill Copland, who is related to Harold Bride’s wife, Lucy Downie, and his cousin, Colin Downie. Additional confirmation came from an undated article published in the Stranraer newspaper the week following Bride’s death.
Mr. Copland confirmed that Bride’s mother’s maiden name was Lowe, not Rowe as is frequently listed. He went on to give particulars as to Lucy Downie Bride, as follows: according to Mr. Copland, Mrs. Bride was born as Lucy Johnstone on November 6, 1889, in the parish of Kildalton and Oa, on the Isle of Islay, to Jessie Johnstone and William Downie, an engineer. Her parents married at Birkenhead on April 23, 1890, thereby legitimizing Lucy, who became known as Lucy Johnstone Downie.
Bride had been engaged at one time to Mabel Ludlow, a nurse, of East Grinstead, and, according to the April 24, 1912 Daily Sketch¸ he had sent her a telegram shortly after the sinking, saying simply "safe and well".
Excellent research by Barbara Goldberg of Scarsdale, New York uncovered some interesting facts concerning Bride’s training as a wireless operator. Records of the Merseyside Maritime Museum reveal that Bride took his operator’s examination on June 28, 1911 and had a sending and receiving rate of 22 words a minute. His knowledge of the rules was described as "very good." Ms. Goldberg states that "the results that were sent to me suggest that very few students achieved a ‘very good’; most were ‘fair’ or ‘good’, so Harold must have been somewhat unusual in this regard". His license was issued on June 29, 1911. His records note that his original certificate was lost with the Titanic, and that a duplicate was issued on June 25, 1912.
Contemporary issues of The Marconigraph, the Marconi Company magazine, also uncovered by Ms. Goldberg, reported, in the "Movements of Operators" section, Bride’s assignment to the P&O liner Medina in August of 1912, to the German in December of that year, and assignments to the Dover Castle and Namur in the first two months of 1913. Interestingly enough, Harold Cottam, formerly of RMS Carpathia, relieved Bride in his assignment to the Dover Castle. To date, no record has yet been unearthed of additional assignments for Harold Bride.
Lucy Downie married Harold Bride at Stranraer, Wigtownshire, Scotland, on April 10, 1920. The best man was Lucy’s brother, James Downie, a marine engineer.
The Brides had three children, all three of whom were alive at the time of their father’s death—Lucy, who became a nurse in Nigeria and married a doctor in Government service ; John, who was a forestry officer in the same country, and was later killed in an automobile accident there, leaving a wife of Danish origin and one daughter; and Jeanette, who taught first at Droughduil School, and later in the primary school on the Hebridean island of Scarba, but then went to teach in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Jeanette never married, and died of cancer in Scotland.
After moving to Scotland in 1922, Bride worked as a chemist (pharmacist) in Hanover Street, Stranraer. Mr. Copland believes that Bride had trained as a pharmacist at some time, but had no details on this. After a period of time, Harold became a commercial traveller for a London pharmaceutical company.
At one point, Harold and Lucy Downie Bride resided in small quarters at Ashcliffe, Dunning, Perthshire, and were at least in residence there on June 8, 1945, when he signed his last will and testament. Inquiries to Simon Warren of the historical society in Dunning have revealed that at least two persons in the area recall the Brides during their time there, a Mr. Charlie Laing and a Mrs. McCullough, and noted that their impressions were that the Brides were very private persons. An adopted son of a former owner of Ashcliffe recalls a couple with two daughters living on the grounds there in about 1945, but distinctly recalls their name as ‘MacBride’ or ‘Macbride’. Upon retirement in 1948, Bride and his wife moved into the manse at Glasserton, near Whithorn, while Lucy taught at the Isle-of-Whithorn primary school. They move from there during the winter of 1955-56 to Provan Hall, Stepps, where they resided at the time of Harold’s death of lung cancer on April 29, 1956. His estate at the time of his death came to £ 137, to include 1350 shares of ordinary stock in Louis G. Ford Ltd.
Research conducted on my behalf by Mrs. Elma Richmond of Glasgow has uncovered that Harold Bride was cremated under the direction of Wylie and Lochead, undertakers, of that city, on May 2, 1956, and that his ashes were scattered in the Garden of Remembrance at Maryhill Crematorium. Lucy Downie Bride returned to Stranraer after Harold’s death, and her home of record there was 17 Victoria Place when she died in Prestwick, Ayrshire, on August 8, 1973. In her will, she also requested cremation, and that her ashes be scattered as well, presumably in the same location as those of her husband.
It was related by a niece of Bride’s, Christina, that he operated amateur radio in his later years, and would stay up late at night contacting other ‘ham’ operators all over the world. However, to date no record of an amateur operator’s license, callsign, or logged radio contact has been found. However, a recent (August 1999) statement by a longtime resident of Whithorn to amateur radio operator and artist David Waugh of Ireland reveals that there were several aerials around the Bride residence there which caused much speculation at the time, so the possibility of Bride’s involvement with radio after his service with the Marconi Company seems to be at least a possibility.
Additionally, I have found reason to believe that, while Harold and Lucy Bride may have been somewhat reclusive or not particularly outgoing, there is nothing at present to support a commonly held belief that Harold Bride was secretive concerning his experience aboard Titanic to the extent that even his own family was unaware of his role in the disaster until after his death. According to Colin Downie, as well as other relatives, it was common knowledge within the family as to Bride's involvement, even among family members who had never even met him.
This represents the total of what I have been able to uncover to date on this subject, and, to the best of my belief and judgement, is accurate. However, there are a great many leads remaining that have not yet been actively pursued, as well as some sources with whom I have already initiated contact, and from whom I am awaiting replies, so the possibility exists that I will be able to add to what is presented here in the near future. Anyone wishing to contact me may do so at the email listed below.
e-mail: ascension_fl@yahoo. com (primary)
Update - Harold Bride's great nephews visit Belfast
A paraphrased extract from Harold Bride's account of the tragedy
It is evening on April 14 - both wireless officers were exhausted after sending passenger traffic all day. Turning to Harold Bride, Phillips told him, "You turn in, boy, and get some sleep." Bride gratefully retreated to the sleeping quarters of the wireless cabin, where he collapsed on a bed. The weary Phillips kept tapping out messages to the receiving station at Cape Race, Newfoundland. At 11 p.m. he was suddenly interrupted by a message from the Leyland liner Californian, bound from London to Boston. The Californian's operator was broadcasting a warning that ice had drifted into the shipping lanes.
The Californian was only ten miles away from the Titanic, so the warning came in loud and clear. It came in too loud for Phillips, who was wearing headphones with the volume turned up high. The morse code signals stunned his ears like exploding artillery shells. Infuriated by the racket, Phillips tapped out an angry reply on his key: "Shut up, shut up! I am busy; I am working Cape Race!"
Forty minutes later the Titanic struck an iceberg. The 66,000-ton Titanic was steaming at 22 1/2 knots when the impact occurred. The ship did not collide head-on with the iceberg; she merely sideswiped an underwater spur of ice. This light, grazing blow slit a long gash in the Titanic's belly, and water began pouring into five of the vessel's watertight compartments.
If the ice had punctured only four of her watertight compartments, the Titanic would have more than likely stayed afloat. But with five compartments flooding, she was doomed.
In the cabin adjacent to the wireless room, Harold Bride woke up. He would later recall:
"I was conscious of waking up and hearing Phillips sending to Cape Race. I read what he was sending. It was a traffic matter.
"I remembered how tired he was and got out of bed to relieve him. I didn't even feel the shock [as the Titanic struck the iceberg]. I hardly knew it had happened until after the captain had come to us. There was no jolt whatsoever.
"I was standing by Phillips 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 for us. You better get ready to send out a call for assistance. But don't send it until I tell you.' "The captain went away and in ten minutes, I should estimate the time, he came back. We could hear a terrible confusion outside, but there was not the least thing to indicate that there was any trouble. The wireless was working perfectly.
"'Send the call for assistance,' said the captain, barely putting his head in the door.
"'What call should 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 were joking while he did so. All of us made light of the disaster.
"We joked that way while he flashed signals for about five minutes. Then the captain came back. "'What are you sending?' he asked. "'C.Q.D.' Phillips replied.
"The humor of the situation appealed to me. I cut in with a little remark that made us all laugh, including the captain. 'Send S.O.S.,' I said. 'It's the new call, and it may be your last chance to send it.' "Phillips with a laugh changed the signal to 'S.O.S.'"
Phillips must have expected that he would quickly contact the Californian, whose wireless operator had so recently blasted his ears with code signals. But the operator of the Californian had just gone to bed for the night, after switching off his equipment.
While he waited for a reply to his S.O.S., Phillips swapped jokes with Harold Bride, who later recalled:
"We said lots of funny things to each other in the next few minutes. We 'picked up' [contacted by wireless] first the steamship Frankfurt. We gave her our position and said we had struck an iceberg and needed assistance. The Frankfurt operator went away to tell his captain."
Bride and Phillips stopped telling jokes when they noticed that the Titanic was starting to sink. According to Bride, "We could observe a distinct list forward." Soon after he made this alarming observation, Bride was cheered by a lucky event: Phillips contacted a second potential rescue ship, the White Star liner Carpathia. Bride recalled:
"The Carpathia answered our signal. We told her our position and said we were sinking by the head. Her operator went to tell his captain, and in five 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 I went through an awful mass of people to his cabin. The decks were full of scrambling men and women. I saw no fighting, but I heard of it.
"I came back and heard Phillips giving the Carpathia fuller 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 brought an overcoat to Phillips. It was very cold. I slipped an overcoat upon him while he worked.
"Every few minutes Phillips would send me to the captain with little messages. They were merely telling how the Carpathia was coming our way and gave her speed.
"I noticed as I came back from one trip that they were putting off women and children in 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 water and that the dynamos might not last much longer. We sent that word to the Carpathia.
"I went 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 continued to work through it I don't know. "He was a brave man. I learned to love him that night and I suddenly felt 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 during the last awful fifteen 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 life belt 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 some boots and I put those on, and an extra jacket, and I put that on. I saw Phillips standing out there still sending away, giving the Carpathia details of how we were doing.
"We picked up the Olympic and told her we were sinking down by the head and were about all down. As Phillips was sending the message I strapped the life belt to his back. I had already put on his overcoat. "I wondered if I could get him into his boots. He suggested with a sort of laugh that I look out and see if all the people were off in the boats, or if any boats were left, or how things stood.
"I saw a collapsible boat near a funnel and went over to it. Twelve men were trying to boost it down to the boat deck. They were having an awful time. It was the last boat left. I looked at it longingly a few minutes. Then I gave them a hand, and over she went. They all started to scramble in on the boat deck, and I walked back to Phillips. I said the last raft had gone.
"Then came the captain's voice: 'Men, you have done your full duty. You can do no more. Abandon your cabin. Now it's every man for himself. You look out for yourselves. I release you. That's the way of it at this kind of a time. Every man for himself.'
"I looked out. The boat deck was awash. Phillips clung on sending and sending. He clung on for about ten minutes, or maybe fifteen minutes after the captain had released him. The water was then coming into our cabin.
"While he worked something happened I hate to tell about. I was back at my room getting Phillips's money for him, and as I looked out the door I saw a stoker, or somebody from below decks, leaning over Phillips from behind. Phillips was too busy to notice what the man was doing. The man was slipping the life belt off Phillips's back.
"The stoker was a big man, too. As you can see, I am very small. I don't know what it was I got hold of. I remembered in a flash the way Phillips had clung on--how I had to fix that life belt in place because he was too busy to do it. I knew that this man from below decks had his own life belt and should have known where to get it. I suddenly felt a passion not to let that man die a decent sailor's death. I wished he might have stretched rope or walked a plank. I did my duty. I hope I finished him. I don't know.
We left him on the cabin floor of the wireless room and he was not moving.
"From aft came the tunes of the band. It was a ragtime tune, I don't know what...Phillips ran aft and that was the last I ever saw of him alive.
"I went to the place I had seen the collapsible boat 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 came awash of the deck.
"The big wave carried the boat off. I had hold of an oarlock and I went off with it. The next I knew I was in the boat.
"But that was not all. I was in the boat and the boat was upside down and I was under it. And I remember I realized I was wet through, and that whatever happened I must not breathe, for I was underwater.
"I knew I had to fight for it and I did. How I got out from under the boat 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 life belts. I felt I simply had to get away from the ship. She was a beautiful sight then. "Smoke and sparks were rushing out of her funnel. There must have been an explosion, but we heard none. We only saw the big stream of sparks.
The ship was gradually turning on her nose, just like a duck does that goes down for a dive. I had only one thing on my mind--to get away from the suction. The band was still playing. I guess all of the band went down. "They were playing 'Autumn,' then".
"I swam with all my might. I suppose I was a hundred and fifty feet away when the Titanic--on her nose, with her after-quarter sticking straight 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 so slowly as she had been."
"I forgot to mention that, besides the Olympic and the Carpathia, we [contacted by wireless] some German boat, I don't know which, and told them how we were. We also [contacted] the Baltic. I remembered those things as I began to figure out what ships would be coming toward us."
"I felt, after a little while, like sinking. I was very 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 [exhausted] when a hand reached out from the boat and pulled me aboard. It was our same collapsible. The same crowd was on it."
"There was just room for me to roll on the edge. I lay there not caring what happened. Somebody sat on my legs. They were wedged in between slats and were being wrenched. I had not the heart to ask the man to move. It was a terrible sight all around--men swimming and sinking."
"I lay where I was, letting the man wrench my feet out of shape. Others came near. Nobody gave them a hand. The bottom-up boat already had more men than it would hold and it was sinking."
"At first the larger waves splashed over my clothing. Then they began to splash over my head and I had to breathe when I could."
"As we floated around on our capsized boat and I kept straining my eyes for a ship's lights, somebody said, 'Don't the rest of you think we ought to pray?' The man who made the suggestion asked what the religion of the others was. One was a Catholic, one a Methodist, one a Presbyterian."
"It was decided that the most appropriate prayer for all was the Lord's Prayer. We spoke it over in chorus with the man who first suggested that we pray as the leader."
"Some splendid people saved us. They had a right-side-up boat, and it was full to its capacity (lifeboat 12). 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 gasped when I could and felt the pain in my feet. At last the Carpathia was alongside and the people were being taken up a rope ladder. Our boat drew near and one by one the men were taken off of it."
"One man was dead. I passed him and went up the ladder, although my feet pained terribly. The dead man was Phillips. He had died on the raft from exposure and cold, I guess. He had been all in from work before the wreck came. He stood his ground until the crisis had passed, and then he collapsed, I guess."
"But I hardly thought that then. I didn't think much of anything. I tried the rope ladder. My feet pained terribly, but I got to the top and felt hands reaching out to me. The next I knew a woman was leaning over me in a cabin and I felt her hand waving back my hair and rubbing my face."
"I felt somebody at my feet and felt the warmth of a jolt of liquor. Somebody got me under the arms. Then I was hustled down below to the hospital. That was early in the day I guess. I lay in the hospital until near night when they told me the Carpathia's wireless man was getting 'queer,' and could I help."
"After that I was never out of the wireless room, so I don't know what happened among the passengers. I saw nothing of Mrs. Astor or any of them. I just worked wireless. The splutter never died down. I knew it soothed the hurt and felt like a tie to the world of friends and home. "How could I then take news queries? Sometimes I let a newspaper ask a question and got a long string of stuff asking for particulars about everything."
"Whenever I started to take such a message I thought of the poor people waiting for their messages to go--hoping for answers to them. "I shut off the inquirers, and sent my personal messages. And I feel I did the right thing."
Harold Bride's statements were recorded by a reporter for the New York Times, who interviewed him at the dock on April 19, 1912. At the conclusion of the interview, Bride said:
"The ambulance man is waiting with a stretcher, and I guess I have got to go with him. I hope my legs get better soon"
"The way the band kept playing was a noble thing. I heard it first while still we were working wireless, when there was a ragtime tune for us, and the last I saw of the band, when I was floating out in the sea with my life belt on, it was still on the 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."
Kathryn Goddard Meyer (Harold Bride's cousin)
The New York Times. April 19, 1912.
A Night To Remember. by Walter Lord. Henry Holt & Co. New York. 1955.
The "Titanic Heros" web page
"Harold Bride - the little Timex"
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