D-Day 70th anniversary: Veteran Bernard Jordan arrives back in UK

The former Royal Navy officer left his care home to attend the commemorations in Normandy

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The Independent Online

A veteran who was found at the D-Day commemorations after disappearing from his care home has said he is “really pleased” he made the trip.

Bernard Jordan, 89, turned up on the beaches of Normandy after being reported missing from The Pines care home in Hove, Sussex.

Arriving in Portsmouth on the Brittany Ferries ship Normandie on Saturday, the former Royal Navy officer said: “I had a great time. I'm really pleased I did it.

"It was good, it gets even better as it goes on."

But he said that he would have to face the music when he returned to the home.

He said: ”Yeah, I'm going to have to face that but it's just one of those things.“

Mr Jordan said that his wife knew about his trip and when asked if he would go back next year, he said: "Yes, I expect so, if I am still here definitely."

Steve Tuckwell, director of communications for Brittany Ferries, said that Mr Jordan enjoyed a hearty breakfast  during the seven-hour crossing.

He said: "He's a tremendous fellow, we loved having him on board."

Mr Tuckwell said that Mr Jordan had been adopted as the company's honorary veteran and he would be given free crossings to the D-Day commemorations for the rest of his life. He said that Mr Jordan was found by a member of the crew as he travelled across to France on Thursday.

He said: "He was picked up by one of our staff, the ship's liaison officer, she found him wandering around, she took him under her wing, took him up to the bridge and treated him royally and he won the hearts of the crew.

“We adopted him as an honorary veteran and we will give him free travel to the Normandy beaches for the rest of his life.

"We owe him a huge debt and it was our way of paying him back, he's a marvellous guy."

He added: "We took him under our wing, he's a lovely, lovely guy, when he came off the crew all clapped him."

He said that Mr Jordan met a group of singers called the Candy Girls during the crossing to France and added: "He's got a lot of charm with the ladies but I understand he has a wife."

Mr Jordan, a former mayor of Hove, left The Pines at around 10.30am on Thursday morning clad in a grey rain coat with a jacket bearing his war medals underneath

Sussex police received a call from the nursing home at around 7.15pm that evening to say that Mr Jordan had not been seen since.

Following a fruitless search, the care home received a call from a younger veteran at about 10.30pm to say that he had met the missing pensioner on a coach on the way to France and that they were safe and well in a hotel in Ouistreham, France.

Susan Knowles, Mr Jordan's niece, told Sky News that her uncle had a history of visiting events he wasn't expected at.

She said: "Last time I saw him would be at a family funeral that he made his way down to again, and we were all quite amazed that he'd made his way to Bournemouth to this family funeral, on the train, on his own.

“He sort of just came walking up and we were quite surprised to see him there, because of his age and that, we didn't expect him to be there.

“If he's determined to do something he will.”

Although it was reported that staff had told the veteran he could not attend the 70th anniversary of the landings that changed the course of the Second World War, a spokesman for the home said it was “definitely not the case” that the veteran was banned from attending the D-Day commemorations.

In a statement, Peter Curtis, chief executive of Gracewell Healthcare, which runs The Pines, said: “Mr Jordan has full capacity, which means that he can come and go from the home as he pleases, which he does on most days. At no stage was he banned from going to the commemorations.

“In fact, staff at the home tried to get Mr Jordan on to an accredited tour with the Royal British Legion but, due to the last-minute nature of the request, this was not possible.

"Mr Jordan was reported missing to the police yesterday evening as a matter of caution because he did not return from his normal trip to town and when he left had not told us he was still intent on trying to get to Normandy.

“At Gracewell Healthcare we celebrate the individuality of our residents' lives and are in awe of the part Mr Jordan played in the D-Day invasion 70 years ago.”

Mr Jordan was among more than 650 ex-servicemen believed to have travelled to commemorate the invasion, described as the largest in military history.

This year’s D-Day commemorations were particularly poignant as it will likely be the final time the remaining veterans, who are now in their 80s and 90s, gather together to recall the day that “changed the world”.

Additional reporting by Press Association