Hove: 'Great Escaper' Bernard Jordan Dies

6 January 2015, 16:12 | Updated: 6 January 2015, 16:14

War veteran Bernard Jordan, who left his care home in Hove, East Sussex, to attend the 70th anniversary D-Day commemorations in Normandy last year, has died in hospital aged 90, the home has said.

Officials at the care home said Mr Jordan would be "much missed'' by his wife and all his friends at The Pines.

Amanda Scott, managing director of Gracewell Healthcare, said: "Bernie caught the world's imagination last year when he made his 'surprise' trip to France and bought 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.

"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.

"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.''

A month after his escapade in France, Mr Jordan was made an honorary alderman of Brighton and Hove during a reception at Brighton Town Hall.

The honour was to mark his "exceptional contribution to the work of the newly-formed Brighton and Hove Council and the former Hove Borough Council and to the community''.

He joined a select band of more than 30 men and women who have been made honorary aldermen or women of the city since 1997.

Others include Burmese democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi, Olympic champion Steve Ovett and First World War hero Henry Allingham, who became the world's oldest man before his death aged 113 in 2009.

Asked at the reception why he travelled to Normandy, Mr Jordan, a former local borough councillor and mayor of Hove, said: "My thoughts were with my mates who had been killed.

"I was going across to pay my respects. I was a bit off course but I got there.''

He added: "Britain is a smashing country and the people are smashing, and if you have to do something a bit special, then they are worth every effort.''

He celebrated his 90th birthday later in June and despite asking for a 'quiet one' received 2,500 cards from around the world.

Brian Fitch, the Mayor of Brighton and Hove, said: ``Whilst he was elderly, he seemed in good health and had a lot going for him.

"I will remember Bernie as a hard-working politician, as a great mayor of the city, and as someone who helped people.

Last year, when he made that escape from his care home to go to Normandy because he wanted to be part of the D-Day anniversary celebrations, it gained him worldwide coverage.

What I think he did that day was show a determination to achieve one of the things he believed in. He was a very lovely guy who cared about people.''

Mr Jordan, a former Royal Navy veteran, had vowed to return to Normandy this year.

Asked by reporters last June if he would go back, he said: ``Yes, I expect so, if I am still here, definitely.''

Brittany Ferries, which carried Mr Jordan on his trip across the Channel, had offered him free crossings to D-Day events for the rest of his life.

A spokesman for the ferry company, which adopted Mr Jordan as its honorary veteran, said:

``We're particularly sad to hear this news.

It was a real honour to carry Bernie back to the beaches of Normandy in June, and during his time on board our ships he made many friends amongst our crew.

We had been looking forward to welcoming him back on board again this coming June when we were planning to roll out the red carpet for him.

Sadly, that's not now to be. Our thoughts are with Bernie's wife, family and friends.''