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D-Day: Hove veteran disappears for Normandy trip

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media captionBernard Jordan made some friends and picked up some duty free on the ferry to France, as the BBC's Andy Moore reports

A World War Two veteran who disappeared from his nursing home to attend the D-Day commemorations in France is on his way back to the UK.

Bernard Jordan, 89, left the home in Hove unannounced at 10:30 BST on Thursday and was reported missing to Sussex Police that evening.

Staff later discovered he had joined other veterans in France.

The former Royal Navy officer said he hoped his trip would not land him in trouble.

On Friday evening, it was confirmed Mr Jordan was on an overnight ferry and had been given a cabin, meals and a transfer back to his nursing home.

image copyrightGracewell Healthcare
image captionStaff could not get Bernard Jordan on an accredited tour to Normandy so he made his own way there

Prior to embarking, Mr Jordan told ITV News: "I have been here last year and I have been here obviously this time... but if I am still about I shall try next year's as well."

Asked if he would be in trouble when he returned home, he added: "I might be, but I hope not."

Ship's liaison officer Sonia Pittam, who met Mr Jordan on his way 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'."

Peter Curtis, chief executive of Gracewell Care Homes, said he had spoken to Mr Jordan's guide and added: "He found it all very emotional - much more than he was expecting, which is why he wants to come home early."

He said he thought Mr Jordan wanted to be back at the care home with his wife Irene, and added that he would be meeting the veteran when he disembarks the ferry.

Mr Jordan, who was mayor of Hove from 1995-96, is a resident of The Pines nursing home in Hove.

'Missing with medals'

Hundreds of veterans marked the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in France, with events on the beaches of Normandy.

The landings were the first stage of the invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe.

Earlier, it was believed care home staff stopped Mr Jordan from going to the events.

image copyrightGracewell Healthcare
image captionBernard Jordan served in the Royal Navy

Brighton and Hove police had tweeted: "90 year old veteran reported missing from care home. Turns out they'd said no to him going to #DDay70 but he went anyway #fightingspirit"

The pensioner had gone out wearing a grey raincoat and a jacket underneath with his war medals on, Sussex Police said.

A police spokesman earlier said: "We have spoken to the veteran who called the home today and are satisfied that the pensioner is fine and that his friends are going to ensure he gets back to Hove safely over the next couple of days after the D-Day celebrations finish.

"Once the pensioner is home, we will go and have a chat with him to check he is OK."

Nev Kemp, the police commander for the City of Brighton & Hove, 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!"

But Mr Curtis said it was "definitely not the case" that Mr Jordan was banned from attending the D-Day commemorations.

He 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."

'Disappointment over tour'

Staff had in fact tried to get Mr Jordan on to an accredited tour with the Royal British Legion, he added, but it had not been possible because of the last-minute nature of the request.

Mr Curtis said: "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.

"When he left, [he] had not told us he was still intent on trying to get to Normandy."

And he said staff at the company were "in awe" of the part Mr Jordan had played in the D-Day invasion.

According to the company's blog, Mr Jordan has lived in Hove all his life and at the home since January.

It said: "He served in the Second World War in the Royal Navy and upon returning married his sweetheart, Irene."

Brighton councillor Les Hamilton, who preceded Mr Jordan as mayor of Hove said the 89-year-old veteran had previously attended the 50th and 60th memorial services in Normandy.

"The memorial services meant a lot to him. He clearly didn't want to miss what might be his last one."

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