An 89-year-old British World War II veteran who went missing from his retirement home was found in Normandy enjoying a D-Day anniversary get-together with former comrades, police said on Friday.
Bernard Jordan slipped out of The Pines care home in the seaside town of Hove in southern England on Thursday wearing his medals under his raincoat.
He then joined a coach party heading for events to mark the 70th anniversary of the landings in Ouistreham, northern France.
His retirement home insisted Jordan, a Royal Navy veteran, was not banned from joining the commemorations, as was initially reported.
“Staff at the home tried to get Mr Jordan on to an accredited tour with the Royal British Legion but, due to the last-minute nature of the request, this was not possible,” said Peter Curtis, chief executive of Gracewell Healthcare, which runs The Pines.
“Mr Jordan was reported missing to the police yesterday evening as a matter of caution because he did not return form his normal trip to town and when he left had not told us he was still intent on trying to get to Normandy,” Curtis said.
Jordan is a former mayor of Hove whose proudest moments include meeting former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, according to a recent Gracewell Healthcare blog posting about him.
A spokesman for Sussex Police confirmed Jordan had been unaccounted for for about 12 hours, but would be allowed to stay in France to finish commemorating D-Day.
“We were called at 7:15pm yesterday by staff at a nursing home in Hove who said an 89-year-old who lived there had gone out at 10:30am that morning and had not been seen since,” a spokesman said.
“The nursing home received a phone call from a younger veteran from [neighbouring] Brighton at 10:30pm who said he had met the pensioner on a coach on the way to France and that they were safe and well in a hotel in Ouistreham,” he 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.”