Hero's welcome after Great (rest home) Escape

Last updated 10:26 08/06/2014
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GREAT ESCAPER: Bernard Jordan said he was going for a walk and instead went to Normandy for D-Day celebrations. At right is Jordan during his time in the Royal Navy.

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The 89-year-old veteran who ran away from his rest home in England to join D-Day commemorations in France has returned home to a hero's welcome.

Bernard Jordan, the former mayor of Hove, slipped out on Thursday morning (local time) after staff at The Pines at Furse Hill told him they couldn't get him on an official tour at the last minute.

Undeterred, he quietly pinned his medals to his jacket, donned a raincoat and set out for what the staff thought was his normal trip into town.

When he failed to return by nightfall, the nursing home called Sussex Police. Jordan turned out to be quite safe and sound - in Ouistreham, France, with friends. Another veteran reported that Jordan had hooked up with their group in Hove and travelled across the English Channel for the 70th-anniversary ceremonies.

The former Royal Navy officer has been lauded for his fighting spirit and garnered media attention around the world. His trip has been dubbed "The Great Escape".

"I expect I will be in some trouble with the care home, but it was worth it," the Daily Mail reported him as saying upon his return to England.

"I just wanted to go over and join in with the commemorations.

"Being a veteran myself this was important to me and it meant the world to be there. I met some great characters - from old veterans to dancing girls - and I loved every minute."

Instead of a reprimand, Jordan was greeted by cheering staff at the care home in Hove, the Telegraph reported. As he made his way from the taxi, staff broke into a rendition of "For he's a jolly good fellow".

The veteran then recovered from his trip with a breakfast of bacon and eggs.

On June 6, 1944, Jordan was on one of the nearly 7000 ships to take troops and equipment into northern France and provided covering fire.

D-Day wasn't Jordan's first taste of action, the Telegraph reported.

He had previously taken part in the Battle of the Atlantic, a battle between German U-boats and the British ships trying to keep supply routes open to the US.

In true wartime "loose lips sink ships" spirit, Jordan's wife Irene, who lives at the same rest home as him, didn't mention his Normandy plans to anyone.

"My wife knew I was going - she supported me. I'm really pleased I did it and I'll do it again next year if I'm still here," the Daily Mail reported him saying.

Enamoured with their passenger, a spokesman for Brittany Ferries said they would let Jordan travel with them for free in the future.

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