Like many WWII veterans, Bernard Jordan was among those who went back to Normandy to commemorate D-Day.
He just didn’t tell anyone at his care home that he was going.
Wearing his war medals under a gray raincoat, Jordan slipped out of the home early in the morning, caught a train to the coast where he met a few other WWII vets, and crossed the English Channel by ferry.
By then, the police had been called in to search for Jordan, the Guardian reports. On the other side of the Channel, he and his men once more arrived where they and 156,000 other allied troops landed seven decades earlier.
As a Royal Navy Officer on D-Day, Jordan saw tens of thousands of his fellow service members killed in battle on the shores of northern France. 70 years later, those memories were undoubtedly still with him. And, when he returned, so were the hearts and minds of England.
Just days after he returned home, he received more than 2,500 birthday cards from people around the world who had heard of his “Great Escape.” He was even made an honorary alderman of Brighton and Hove.
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“Bernie caught the world’s imagination last year when he made his ‘surprise’ trip to France and brought a huge amount of joy to a lot of people. He will be much missed by everyone here, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife,” said Amanda Scott, managing director of Gracewell Healthcare, which owns the care home in Hove that Jordan lived in until his death in 2014.
“Bernie was always insistent that what he did during the war was nothing unusual, and only what many thousands of others did for their country,” she continued. “That may well be true, but the little bit of excitement he gave everyone last June was typical of his no-nonsense attitude to life and is how he will be remembered by thousands of people.”
Jordan died on Dec. 30, 2014, and his wife passed away just seven days later. They both left behind their estates to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).
Learn more about Jordan’s Great Escape in the video below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.