John George “Jack” Phillips was born 11 April 1887 in Godalming, Surrey, England. In 1902, at age fifteen, he became employed at the Post Office where he began training on the telegraph. He then went to the Marconi Company’s Wireless Telegraphy Training School in 1906. Upon his graduation in August that same year, he was posted as an operator for White Star Line’s Teutonic. He operated the wireless on various ships over the next two years before going to Ireland to operate a Marconi station. In March 1912, he was given orders to join another White Star Liner Titanic, where he was the head operator. When the news came from Captain Smith 14 April, 1912, Phillips began sending out CQD and SOS distress signals on the wireless. Phillips and assistant operator Harold Bride stayed on the wireless until power failure and Captain Smith released them of their duties. It is unknown how Phillips left the sinking ship, but later that night, he was clinging to the side of the collapsible lifeboat that was floating upside down in the ocean, which also had Second Officer Lightoller and Harold Bride aboard. Despite reaching the collapsible boat, Jack Phillips died shortly before dawn at age 25. His body was never recovered. In Godalming, the community raised the Phillips Memorial, the largest Titanic memorial in the world.
April 15, 2012 will mark the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of Titanic and of the death of over 1,500 people.