Hero's Welcome For 'Great Escape' D-Day Veteran

A D-Day veteran who went "AWOL" from his care home to see Friday's commemorations in France has returned to a hero's welcome.

Bernard Jordan, 90, was cheered and hugged by staff waving Union Flags at The Pines nursing home in Hove, Sussex.

"I had a great time. I'm really pleased I did it," he said after the Brittany Ferries ship Normandie arrived in Portsmouth.

Quizzed on whether he would go back next year, he replied: "Yes, I expect so. If I am still here, definitely!"

The former Royal Navy officer said his wife had known about his trip.

And in a statement issued after his return to The Pines, Mr Jordan said he didn't realise what a "stir" he would cause.

"I want to thank everyone for their kind words and best wishes following my trip to Normandy - I never imagined my visit would cause such a stir!

"I'm delighted to be back at home with my wife and the wonderful staff here at The Pines. I was never banned from going to the commemorations, I just decided to make my own way there."

Brittany Ferries said Mr Jordan enjoyed a breakfast of bacon, two fried eggs, sausage, orange juice and coffee during the seven-hour crossing.

The pensioner would be given free crossings to the D-Day commemorations for the rest of his life, the company confirmed.

Police were called on Thursday night when staff realised the veteran had gone out at 10.30am and had not been seen since.

Mr Jordan was wearing his medals when he left but covered them up with a grey jacket and secretly boarded a coach to France.

At 10.30pm on Thursday - 12 hours after he was last seen - a younger veteran called to say he had met the pensioner on a coach on the journey to the commemorations.

He said the pair were sitting in a hotel in Ouistreham, Normandy, where world leaders have been mingling with veterans to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

Mr Jordan, a former mayor of Hove, was pictured with "Candy Girl" ferry staff on the way back to England.

Staff member Sonia Pittam told Sky News the 90-year-old was "a game old boy".

She said: "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 and all the people waving on the route to the harbour entrance."

His niece Susan Knowles said she was "very proud" of her uncle.

She told Sky News: "The last time I saw him would be at a family funeral that he made his way down to again, and we were all quite amazed that he'd made his way to Bournemouth to this family funeral, on the train, on his own.

"He sort of just came walking up and we were quite surprised to see him there, because of his age and that, we didn't expect him to be there.

"If he's determined to do something he will."

Care home boss Peter Curtis said staff at the home had tried to get Mr Jordan onto an accredited tour with the Royal British Legion but the request ended up being too last-minute.