Posts Tagged ‘Final’

D-Day ‘Great Escaper’ Bernard Jordan makes his final journey as he’s laid to rest with his wife

January 30th, 2015

Around 150 mourners gathered as Mr Jordan’s coffin, draped in the Union flag and topped with his medals and a wreath of poppies, arrived at church in front of his wife’s.

Assistant curate Father Mark Lyon, who led the service, said: “It’s a great privilege to give thanks for the lives of Bernie and Rene.

“Although Bernie made the headlines, it’s a testament to the depth of her that Rene would not allow him to make this final journey alone.

“In this we can take comfort, knowing that they make their journey into eternity together, hand in hand.”

Bernard Jordan and his wife Irene on their wedding day

Mr and Mrs Jordan, who did not have children, had been married for 59 years and celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 2005.

As a former mayor of Hove, the service was told Mr Jordan had been a long-serving community stalwart before his trip to last year’s D-Day commemorations.

Paying tribute, Mr Fitch said Mr Jordan “had a flare for being outrageous” and that Brighton and Hove had “lost two of its dearest souls”.

He said: “Bernie, in what were to be the last few months of his life, became a national and international figure due to his trip to France and his desire to participate in the Normandy Landings commemorations.

“What really captured the public’s imagination was not his own scheduled flit from the Pines (care home) but the character of the man – a person determined to honour and value his comrades despite his increasing age and less than perfect health.”

Mr Fitch also paid tribute to Mrs Jordan as “demure and quiet”, adding that “she was the perfect foil for her gregarious and big-hearted husband”.

Dennis Smith, the husband of one of the couple’s nieces, told the service that the Jordans were “different characters” who complemented each other.

Mr Smith said Mrs Jordan took a great interest in the Royal Family, particularly the younger generation.

And she acted as an “assertive” figure, often keeping her husband grounded during his “flights of fancy”.

He added that her death, just days after her husband, came as she “saw little prospect of a life without him”.

After the Last Post sounded, Royal British Legion standard bearers lowered their flags before mourners filed out of the church ahead of a private committal.

Mr Jordan’s disappearance to Normandy last June 5 sparked a police search that led to him being catapulted to international attention.

His whereabouts emerged only when a younger veteran phoned later that night to say he had met Mr Jordan and he was safe.

Royal Navy veteran Mr Jordan told reporters on his return that his aim was to remember his fallen “mates”.

Bernard Jordan

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.

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.

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Foyle’s War, final episode review: Is this really goodbye?

January 19th, 2015

We all like to see a great series go out with a bang, and Sunday night’s episode of Foyle’s War (ITV) certainly finished on a big one. But I’m not at all sure that – if I hadn’t been forewarned by last week’s sudden announcement by ITV – I would even have realised this was supposed to the swansong of one of British television’s best loved characters.

Far from it. With a plot packing in an audacious assassination attempt, postwar black-marketeering, Soviet spymasters, a scandal within the Security Service and a conspiracy to falsely incriminate a member of parliament – this felt more like a series at the height of its powers rather than an invitation to bid farewell to dear old Christopher Foyle, that most decent and understated wartime copper who latterly morphed so successfully into MI5’s only reliable chap in the Cold War’s early days.

As such, for ITV to let the axe fall on the series at this particular point seems remarkably bone-headed. Foyle’s War has, since its debut in 2002, been a firm audience favourite (recent episodes pulled in around five million viewers, or a 20 per cent audience share).

Famously, viewer protest pulled the show back from the brink of cancellation twice before. Such fanaticism can be attributed largely to a unique charm of character and performance – not only in Foyle himself, brought brilliantly to life by Michael Kitchen’s muted, charismatic acting style. Honeysuckle Weeks, too, as his impeccably mannered sidekick and driver, Sam Stewart, is another unobtrusive yet magnetic presence; her home life (Foyle doesn’t really have one) offering a window onto the times. Even her departure last night, forced by pregnancy, felt more like a momentary obstacle than a conclusive end.

For viewers inclined to hark back to a Britain united against a common foe, the series’ wartime setting had been a huge attraction. Yet Foyle’s seamless transition to the tensions of the burgeoning Cold War era cleverly maintained the hunkered down attitude while introducing us to an intriguing new era when enemies were still all around, yet no one (not even MI5) knew precisely who or where they were.

Not everything about Foyle’s War was great. The two-hour format that invited some to curl up for an absorbing night in, was for others off-puttingly slow and old hat. And if the reward was a feature-filmish sense of involvement and high production values that lavished attention on costume and period detail (not always accurately, as evidenced by many an incensed reader post on the Telegraph website), Foyle’s unhurried investigative style meant the pace rarely picked up above the stately.

Still the series had a renewed vigour of late. For many – myself included – Foyle’s bleak Cold War escapades rekindled a flagging interest. Creator Anthony Horowitz’s decision to root the postwar stories in real life cases brought new grit and relevance, exploring the early nuclear arms race and resurgent anti-semitism in recent episodes. This episode juggled wartime and postwar eras, echoing a scandal in which young British agents were sent to certain death in occupied Europe by a Special Operations Executive unwilling to admit its network had been compromised, while a subplot involving spivs and police corruption kept bringing us back to 1946. Around this was spun the mystery of an attempt on the life of former SOE bigwig Hilda Pierce (Ellie Haddington), who survived – thanks to Foyle – long enough to inflict her own brand of explosive summary justice upon her weaselly former SOE boss.

As an episode ending it certainly had a grim satisfaction. But for Foyle himself, the closing scenes had nothing of the finale about them. Quite the opposite. The determined set of his jaw, his lingering final glance towards enigmatic Elizabeth Addis (Hermione Gulliford) spoke, if anything, of many adventures to come.

Given this series’ history of resurrections, it doesn’t seem too great a stretch to hope that some day we’ll enjoy more of them.

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Final leap to honour Arnhem's fallen

September 22nd, 2014

The battalion was led by Lt Col John Frost, whose character was played by Anthony Hopkins in the Richard Attenborough film A Bridge Too Far, which was based on the battle.

However, having been unable to defend the bridge, Cpl Bloys was among many paratroopers captured by the SS and taken to a prisoner of war camp in Germany.

He managed to escape but was captured once again. He then managed to escape for a second time with another soldier and the pair stole a car in which they managed to make it to American lines.

He last visited Arnhem in 2004 with his wife Doreen, who died six years later. Before his own death in February he described how the horrors of the fighting at Arnhem were still “fresh in my mind”.

“You can never really get it across to people about the horrors of battle. You are speaking to people one minute and then two minutes afterwards their life is finished. It was a terrible battle and was not well planned.”

On Saturday dozens of veterans of the assault, most of them in their nineties and either wheelchair bound or walking with the aid of sticks, watched as around 500 Allied troops jumped out of planes to commemorate the seven-decade anniversary of the Second World War operation.

Cpl Bloys was one of a number of veterans whose ashes were scattered by British paratroopers landing on Ginkel Heath, in a show of respect and camaraderie towards their predecessors.

This weekend his daughter-in-law Rita, who watched the jump with her husband Ian, among a crowd of around 40,000 people said the gesture was first suggested by a paratrooper who attended Cpl Bloys’s funeral in March. Cpl Bloys had died a month earlier aged 90.

Mrs Bloys, 65, said: “It is just an unofficial thing that they offered to do for us. My father-in-law was very fond of the area. In his later years he said he felt that the fighting had destroyed the area, but he came back here often.

“We just thought it would be fitting to leave a bit of him here. It seems like the final thing we can do for him. We are very emotional.”

Mr Bloys, 66, a former electrician for Ford from Hornchurch in Essex, said before the jump: “He never expressed a wish for what he wanted done with his ashes. But especially in the early days he used to come back here. The last time was on the sixtieth anniversary in 2004. He appreciated the way the Dutch people treated him. He was there for a few days and all the young children were asking for his autograph. It was like being a movie star.

“He was in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and then Arnhem but Arnhem was the one he mentioned the most.

“We want to do the right thing by him. This will be his last jump – I think he would appreciate that.”

Operation Market Garden saw more than 40,000 British, US, Canadian and Polish troops dropped behind the German lines at Arnhem in September 1944.

The attack was conceived by Field Marshal Montgomery to inflict a fatal blow on the Germans and bring the war to a close by the end of the year.

The aim of the operation was to capture a series of river crossings in German-occupied territory to allow Allied tanks to cross the Rhine and sweep into Germany.

However, despite early successes, strong resistance prevented troops from capturing the final bridge at Arnhem.

The British unexpectedly found themselves up against the 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions, leading to one of the most devastating and bloody battles of the war.

After nine days of street fighting between 17 and 25 September, and running out of food and ammunition, British forces were overwhelmed and forced to withdraw. An estimated 1,700 British soldiers lost their lives.

Yesterday Brig Nick Borton. the commander of 16 Air Assault Bde, whose paratroopers carried out yesterday’s commemoration jump, said the event had given serving troops the opportunity to highlight the “humbling exploits” of the Allied airborne forces 70 years ago.

This weekend Les Fuller, 93, who served as a private with 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment, told the Sunday Telegraph the commemoration at the site of the battle bought back “Massive memories. Memories I could hardly tell you about.”

Mr Fuller was badly wounded as he tried to make his way to the bridge. He said: “We had to detour around Oosterbeek and I finally finished up at the Rhine Pavilion where a fellow who had a howitzer across the other side of the river in a brick field spotted me (I didn’t spot him) and that’s when it came to an end for me.

“A fellow named Sgt Robinson, who was the Sgt medic of the 3rd Battalion, happened to come across me and he went up and got the crew of a tank that was parked just up the road to come and pick me up and hand me over for medical attention which I badly needed.”

Saturday’s event also included a commemoration service at a memorial at Ginkel Heath and a moment of silence as the Last Post was played, before both veterans and serving soldiers laid wreaths to remember the fallen.

The previous day thousands of cheering residents had lined Arnhem’s streets to look on as 83 British and Polish veterans walked or passed them in wheelchairs as part of a week-long commemoration of Operation Market Garden.

Alec Hall, 92, who was a medic during the battle, said of the commemorations: “It brings back so many memories. It’s like it was yesterday. I often think about those few days.”

Bill Carter, 90, who served as a private with the 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment, saluted the landing paratroopers as he watched the drop from his wheelchair, accompanied by three generations of his family – the youngest of which was his 15-year-old grandson William Wilding.

Mr Carter said he was proud to return to the site, adding that the event brought back “a lot of good memories” of the men he served with but also “a lot of sad memories” of the battle.

Tom Hicks from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was another of the veterans attending Saturday’s drop, which was carried out using mainly Hercules aircraft as well as a Dakota from the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The 95-year-old said that Dutch locals had initially thought that they had been liberated from the Nazis when he and his fellow paratroopers landed.

“They brought milk out and flowers and thought the war was over. They thought they were liberated.

“And we knew there was a long way to go before they were liberated. Children [were] holding your hand and skipping… thinking ‘oh, back to normal life’.”

The retreat by Allied forces meant that it was another eight months before they secured a victory which ended the war in Europe.

Mr Hicks added: “I think the message is that even though you are beaten, you never give up, even against all odds.”

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