“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. 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.”
British war veteran Bernard Jordan. Mr. Jordan was among more than 650 ex-servicemen believed to have travelled to commemorate the D-Day invasion, described as the largest in military history. After failing to get a seat on an official bus trip to the events in France, he decided to make his own way there, walking out of The Pines care home in Hove in the south east of England on Thursday afternoon. From there he made his way to Portsmouth, joined up with another bus trip, and secured passage on an overnight ferry.
Staff at The Pines raised the alarm and contacted local police when they discovered he was missing, and it wasn’t until they received a phone call from a younger veteran who met Mr. Jordan on the bus that they realized where he was. He’s now returned to the UK and received a hero’s welcome from staff and other residents at The Pines.
He was also a guest of honor on the return crossing of the Normandy ferry, meeting the skipper Captain Olivier Macoin on deck. Brittany Ferries has said that Mr. Jordan will enjoy free travel to the D-Day commemorations for the rest of his life (!?). Mr. Jordan, who turns 90 this week, was surrounded by burly troops from the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Parachute Regiment on his journey home, as they declared: “He’s our new best mate.”
As he sat sipping tea and laughing with the men out on deck, he admitted he might be in trouble for not telling staff at his nursing home that he had decided to go to Normandy. He told how he got a friend to drive him to Brighton station and then took a train to Portsmouth. “I got down to the dockside and I saw someone I knew and asked if I could go on the trip. They said yes.”
When he arrived in the port of Ouistreham, France, he found a hotel near to the site of the international ceremony at Sword Beach and stayed there on his own.
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.”
Watch a news report below: