Mr Harold Bride tells of New York Crowd Who shadowed Him
Claimed as "Lost Son."
"It is a very difficult thing to be a hero, or at least to be thought a hero. How I longed at times to be quite unknown and just my ordinary self !"
With a smile Mr Harold Bride, the junior Marconi operator of the Titanic, made this remark to The Daily Mirror shortly after he had landed at Liverpool from the Baltic on Saturday morning.
A flutter of excitement went round the waiting crowds on the landing stage as he walked down the gangway - the first passenger to leave the ship.
With eager eyes he searched everywhere for his father, who had come to meet him. Then he saw him. The two rushed to each other.
"Hullo father!" cried the son, with the assumed casualness of youth.
Fingers feel frozen.
Harold Bride now bears little trace of his terrible ordeal. His right foot, however, is still numbed, and a curious result of his exposure and struggles in the icy sea-water is that the finger-tips of his right hand feel as if they were frozen - they are still insensitive to touch.
Otherwise, but for sleepless nights, Mr.Bride is quite well, and after a rest at his home at Shortlands (Kent) will resume his work as a Marconi operator.
During the train journey from Liverpool to Shortlands, he described his experiences "as a hero" in America. Of the actual story of the sinking of the Titanic and his own escape he can say nothing until after the Titanic inquiry.
Saved favourite pipe.
He relates with pride how he "salved his pipe." It was a favourite pipe, a long, straight briar, and it was with great joy that he found it still in his pocket on the Carpathia.
This pipe, together with two photographs blotched yellow with the sea water, were practically the only things he managed to save from the wreck.
Then he recalled the Carpathia's dramatic entry to New York harbour. "It was like a nightmare," he said. "On all sides were tugs and river craft of all kinds with newspaper men aboard shouting at us through megaphones; the din of the sirens, and hooters were deafening, searchlights played on as rockets were constantly exploding..."
And amidst all this bewilderment of lights and sounds Mr.Bride noticed, he says, with a particular distinctness the huge flashing advertisement signs.
When he arrived in New York, ill, tired out and temporarily lamed, he soon began to realise that he was a celebrity.
"I was taken in my uncle's house," he said, "but in a short time my address was found out and numbers of kind-hearted people visited me."
"When I went out into the street to go to Senator Smith's inquiry men and women pressed around to shake my hand. A few days after my arrival in New York came the first request for autographs."
Sold his autograph
"The first batch of letters came chiefly from American girls, all asking for my signature. One girl wrote: 'I should love to have your autograph to add to my collection of notorious characters.'
"At a friend's suggestion, I then sold my autograph for five and ten cents a time, and several dollars were thus obtained for my aunt's missionary box."
Among the letters received by Mr.Bride there were three from people who imagined him to be a long-lost relative.
One correspondent told an elaborate story of how she had lost sight of her boy years ago, and asked was he her son?
When at Washington for the inquiry the attentions of the American journalists and other people were so pressing that he had to disconnect the telephone in his bedroom at the New Willard Hotel.
A valuable tie-pin was one of the presents he received from an admirer, and just before he sailed on the Baltic, when he was able to walk without his crutches, there came along a strange gift from a lady.
"It was a cushion! A soft, expensive-looking cushion embroidered with green and yellow flowers."