THE war veteran who inspired the nation with his very own ‘great escape’ was honoured for his heroism by the Mayor of Brighton and Hove yesterday.
Bernard Jordan, 89, caused a media storm when he travelled all the way to Normandy to attend a remembrance ceremony for the 70th anniversary of D-Day. And yesterday he was invited to a special gathering at Brighton and Hove Town Hall’s mayoral parlour.
Mr Jordan said: “It’s unbelievable – I never thought there would be this kind of reception.
He added: “This is marvellous country and is worth fighting for – it was worth every day of that effort.”
Mr Jordan lives at The Pines care home in Hove with his wife Joan. He left to go to Normandy with his medals hidden under his coat when he found out the official Royal British Legion tour was all booked up.
Coun Brian Fitch, mayor of Brighton and Hove, gave Mr Jordan a series of unique gifts yesterday, including a bottle of commemorative Normandy cider and a cup of sand taken from the beaches of Normandy, before raising a toast to the veteran.
After enjoying a glass of the cider, Mr Jordan was taken for a celebratory lunch at Italian restaurant Donatello, on Brighton Place.
Mikele Addis, co-owner of Donatello, said: “It was a real honour and he very much enjoyed his meal.”
Mayor Fitch said: “I think Bernard is an inspiration – he has shown a commitment and determination that is an example of what can be done if you have a burning desire in your heart.
“He is a man who has taken part in the liberation of Europe from the Nazis, and then went on to give a lifetime of commitment to the people of Hove.”
Mr Jordan served in the Royal Navy throughout the war and took part in Operation Overlord, the invasion that finally pushed the Nazi army back to Berlin.
After the Second World War Bernard returned to Sussex and went on to become a councillor for the Borough of Hove.
From 1995-1996 he served as mayor of Hove, before Brighton and Hove City Council became a unitary authority.
Coun Fitch has submitted a proposal to the council’s chief executive to give Mr Jordan the freedom of the city.