As one of the last of a rapidly fading generation of humble, great men, he’s gone too soon even at 90.
A veteran of World War II who slipped away from a nursing home in England last year to attend the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of D-Day in France has died at the age of 90.
Bernard Jordan, who became known as the Great Escaper after his escapade last June, died peacefully at The Pines, a care home in Hove, East Sussex, the hospital said in a statement.
His secret departure from the home to take a cross-Channel ferry to France, wearing his war medals under a gray raincoat, prompted a police search when the staff at the home reported him missing.
Mr. Jordan, who served in the Royal Navy, made his own way to Normandy, and his whereabouts was discovered only when a younger veteran telephoned during the night of June 5 to say that he had met Mr. Jordan, who was safe and would return when he was good and ready.
Mr. Jordan later said that he had gone to Normandy because “my thoughts were with my mates who had been killed. I was going to pay my respects. I was a bit off course, but I got there.”
He told the nursing home staff he was going out to take a walk, and headed toward Portsmouth to attend D-Day celebrations there. But on the way, he decided instead to take the overnight ferry to Caen. Although he had no accreditation, he was allowed into the ceremonies and ended up about 100 yards from Queen Elizabeth II.
There were so many moving tales of WWII survivors who talked about the fact that they probably wouldn’t live long enough to make it to another D-Day ceremony. With his passing, Jordan’s spunk and guts to get there last summer is all the more admirable and poignant. Again, God bless him and those he fought with.