Nottinghamshire's Titanic Hero

Photo:Harold Cottam of Southwell photographed on the boat deck of the Carpathia in March 1912 at the start of his most eventful voyage.  The ship's name can just be discerned on the lifeboat, right.

Harold Cottam of Southwell photographed on the boat deck of the Carpathia in March 1912 at the start of his most eventful voyage. The ship's name can just be discerned on the lifeboat, right.

Picture courtesy of the Newark Advertiser

Photo:AT THE MOVIES Harold Cottam attending the local premiere of the Titanic film "A Night to Remember" at the Savoy Cinema, Middlegate, Newark, Nottinghamshire, September 1958.  In the film Mr Cottam is played by Alec McCowen

AT THE MOVIES Harold Cottam attending the local premiere of the Titanic film "A Night to Remember" at the Savoy Cinema, Middlegate, Newark, Nottinghamshire, September 1958. In the film Mr Cottam is played by Alec McCowen

Picture courtesy of the Newark Advertiser

Southwell man's pivotal role in helping the stricken liner

DATELINE : April 15th, 1912 :

LOCATION : mid  Atlantic Ocean

The luxury liner RMS Titanic is sinking after hitting an iceberg at 23.40hrs on April 14th.

April 2012 sees the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic – the ‘unsinkable’ ship famously holed by an iceberg on its maiden voyage.

As the great ship settled in the water in the early hours of 15th April, fifty-eight miles away, 20 year old Harold Thomas Cottam of Church Street , Southwell (later of West Bridgford) in Nottinghamshire was a wireless operator on RMS Carpathia.

Through Morse Code messages received on his wireless set, Cottam became the first person to respond to the unfolding tragedy of the Titanic.

The Titanic’s impassioned pleas for assistance in Morse Code are recorded and reproduced verbatim on websites and in a number of museums, including as part of a permanent exhibition at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich – and Cottam’s responses are faithfully reproduced alongside.

Titanic 12.20am : COME AT ONCE. WE HAVE STRUCK A BERG. IT'S A CQD, OLD MAN

Cottam 12.25am :SHALL I TELL MY CAPTAIN? DO YOU REQUIRE ASSISTANCE?

Titanic 12.26am : YES, COME QUICK

Cottam 12.32am :PUTTING ABOUT AND HEADING FOR YOU

Titanic 12.40am : SOS TITANIC SINKING BY THE HEAD. WE ARE ABOUT ALL DOWN

 

After steaming at 17.5 knots for just under four hours, the Carpathia reached the Titanic at 4.10am .

By 8.30am she had picked up the last lifeboat with survivors and left the area at 8.50, bound for New York .

Over 1500 people died in the Titanic disaster, but over 700 more were saved – due in no small measure to the vigilance of 20 year-old Harold Cottam of Southwell.

Cottam received a ‘hero’s welcome’ when the Carpathia reached New York .  He continued to work at sea until 1922 when he took a job as a sales representative.

He died at Lowdham in Nottinghamshire in May 1984, aged 93.

Clich HERE to read about Harold Cottam's commemorative plaque in Lowdham

 

This page was added by Website Administrator on 13/04/2012.
Comments about this page

The 1979 TV Movie "S.O.S. Titanic" was on tv recently, and I noticed that Harold Cottam was played in that one by actor Christopher Strauli

By Jon Steel
On 23/09/2016

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