D-Day 70th anniversary: Veteran who disappeared from care home to attend Normandy commemorations on his way home

Bernard Jordan said he had travelled from Sussex to see the 'first class show'

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The Independent Online

A veteran who was found at the D-Day commemorations in Normandy after disappearing from his care home is on his way back to the UK.

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

The former Royal Navy officer said he made the journey to see the “first class show” – and planned to do so again next year.

Mr Jordan told ITV: “Because I wanted to go to this show here that was on today, that was the main reason I came over here.

"It's a first class show because I have been here last year and I have been here obviously this time and I'm going to - touch wood I'm still with us - and I will be 91 then, but if I am still about I shall try next year's as well."

Asked if he would be in trouble with the care home he added: "I might be, but I hope not."

The pensioner, 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.


Brittany Ferries said Mr Jordan was returning to the UK on Friday night and it had laid on a cabin, meals and a car back to The Pines.

Ship's liaison officer Sonia Pittam, who met Mr Jordan on his outward journey to France, said: "I knew he was a game old boy.

“He certainly has his wits about him, he didn't say much about the landings, just how pleased he was to be on board and couldn't believe how everyone was looking after them (veterans) and all the people waving on the route to the harbour entrance.

"He kept saying, 'All this for us'."

Police officers said they have spoke to the veteran and would have a chat with him upon his return “to check he is ok”.

A piper plays a lament on Gold Beach as Royal Marines landing craft arrive at Arromanche at the start of yesterday’s D-Day commemorations

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.”

The Gracewell Healthcare blog says Mr Jordan has lived in Hove his “whole life” and has lived at The Pines since January, adding: “He served in the Second World War in the Royal Navy and upon returning married his sweetheart, Irene, and began his professional calling.

"Bernard looks back on his career modestly and believed he was very fortunate to serve his community."

Mr Jordan told the blog: ”I was able to take my chance, serve the people of my town and do a job I loved. I am very proud of what I was able to do.

“For anyone who is interested in becoming mayor, you must be prepared to work hard.”

He was mayor of Hove from 1995 to 1996, the blog said.

The highlight of his working life was meeting Margaret Thatcher, according to the blog post.

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