British veteran sneaks out of nursing home for D-Day remembrance in Normandy
5:00 PM, Jun 7, 2014
A British D-Day veteran who was reported missing from a nursing home returned Sunday after traveling to France to mark the invasion's 70th anniversary, authorities said.
Bernard Jordan, 89, sneaked out of the home on England’s south coast on Thursday after being told by staff he could not make the trip to Normandy. Donning his war medals, the Royal Navy veteran joined his former comrades on a coach and then a ferry to travel to France.
“We got him a new blazer for his medals and a new shirt, and he had that on, and I think being Bernie, come the morning he just he thought, 'ah, it’s D-Day now, and I’m off, I’m going,' so he just took himself,” said Gracewell Care Homes Chief Executive Peter Curtis.
The nursing home staff called police Thursday to report Jordan missing. Officers started searching the area, including checking nearby hospitals but failed to find him.
On Saturday morning the local police chief tweeted: "Love this: 89yr old veteran reported missing by care home who said he can’t go to Normandy for #DDay70 remembrance. We’ve found him there!"
The plucky veteran even took time to get his picture taken with the crew of the ferry and the “Candy Girls,” performers who were on board this week to entertain veterans with music of the 1940’s.
“I knew he was a game old boy," said Sonia Pittam, who met him on board the ferry and took him to his cabin and then up to the ferry's bridge. "He certainly has his wits about him. He didn't say much about the [D-Day] landings, just how pleased he was to be on board and couldn't believe how everyone was looking after them and all the people waving on the route to the harbor entrance.”
Jordan told ferry staff that he felt like he was on a luxury cruise, officials from Brittany Ferries told ABC News today.
Asked how Jordan’s wife responded to his disappearance, Curtis responded: “She said, ‘Oh, I’m not in the least bit surprised.’”
Jordan waved to onlookers as he got off the ferry back in England on Saturday and told reporters the trip was “quite exciting” and that it’s “marvelous” to be home.
“This is a smashing country and I'm proud to have served it,” he said.
Jordan was a Royal Navy officer who from 1995-1996 served as mayor of the town of Hove, where The Pines nursing home is located.
ABC News' Alexander Marquardt contributed to this report.