Widow of D-Day ‘Great Escaper’ dies


Published: Thursday 8th January 2015 by The News Editor

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The wife of a war veteran who slipped away from his care home to attend last year’s 70th anniversary D-Day events in France has died – just days after his death.

Irene Jordan, 88, died on Tuesday evening, seven days after the death of her husband Bernard Jordan, who was nicknamed the Great Escaper after his cross-Channel adventure last summer.

He died in hospital aged 90 on December 30 – six months after he captured the nation’s hearts when he travelled to D-Day events in Normandy wearing his war medals and grey mac.

A statement from Amanda Scott, managing director of Gracewell Healthcare which runs The Pines care home in Hove, East Sussex, where the couple lived, confirmed Mrs Jordan’s death.

It said: “Irene and Bernie will both be much missed by everyone at the home and our thoughts and prayers go out to their friends and family at this sad time.”

Brighton and Hove mayor Brian Fitch paid tribute to Mrs Jordan. He said: “They were a very close couple who will both be sadly missed.

“Irene went into the care home first after Bernie had looked after her at home, so it came as a bit of a shock that he died first.

“They had been married for more than 50 years and were a devoted couple. After he had gone, she probably gave up the will.

“They were religious people who are now reunited together.”

A ceremony celebrating Mr and Mrs Jordan’s lives will be held at All Saints Church in Hove on January 30 followed by a private funeral, Mr Fitch said.

A minute’s silence will be held at the next full meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council to remember the couple.

Mr Jordan’s disappearance sparked a police search last June 5 and his whereabouts emerged only when a younger veteran phoned later that night to say he had met Mr Jordan and he was safe.

Second World War veteran Mr Jordan, a former Royal Navy member and ex-mayor of Hove, told reporters on his return that his aim was to remember his fallen “mates”.

He had decided to join British veterans, most making their final pilgrimage to revisit the scene of their momentous invasion, to remember the heroes of the liberation of Europe.

Some 156,000 Allied troops landed on the five invasion beaches on June 6 1944, sparking an 80-day campaign to liberate Normandy involving three million troops and costing 250,000 lives.

Mr Jordan had hoped to return to Normandy this June. Brittany Ferries, which carried him across the Channel last summer, offered him free crossings to D-Day events for the rest of his life after learning of his exploits.

Following his death, the Royal British Legion said Mr Jordan’s decision to go to France highlighted “the spirit that epitomises the Second World War generation”.

On his 90th birthday, days after he returned from his escapade, he was inundated with more than 2,500 birthday cards from around the world.

Mr Jordan was later made an honorary alderman of Brighton and Hove in a special ceremony at Brighton Town Hall.

He joined an elite list to receive the honour, including Burmese democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi, former 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.

Published: Thursday 8th January 2015 by The News Editor

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