During a recent guided tour of the Royal Albert Hall, I asked our guide how the poppies that fall during the Annual Remembrance Day Service are released. I was told that they are dropped physically by men in the attic of the Hall through a small hole. Everyone represents a life tragically lost. Of course, we know the names of many and can visit their final resting places in cemeteries across Europe. Others will forever remain anonymous. One name that you may know well is that of Bernard Jordan. It was a name that hit the national headlines back in the summer of 2014.

Bernard, aged 89 and a War World Two veteran and D-Day survivor, was living with his wife Irene in a nursing home in Hove. Having applied for, but failed to get tickets for the 70th Anniversary D-Day Commemorations in France, he simply left the home early one morning, hopped on a train for Bournemouth, and got on a ferry for France. And, he made it. Even linking up with other veterans along the way. The thing is, he didn’t actually tell anyone what he was doing or where he was going.

His absence sparked a frantic search for him that made the news headlines. Unaware of the fuss he had caused Bernard later said: “My thoughts were with my mates who had been killed, I was going to pay my respects. I was a bit off course, but I got there.”

Now his story and that of Irene’s has been told in an excellent new film called The Great Escaper. Michael Caine turns in a superb, funny, and touching performance as Bernard and proves, even at the age of 90, he’s still one of our greatest actors. Talking of which, Glenda Jackson plays Irene, the only other person who did have an idea about what was going on. Sadly, this would prove to be Glenda’s last film role before her untimely death in June this year. She’s terrific in this and plays the part with a real twinkle in her eye.

I absolutely loved this film. It’s superb. Everything about it is just right and you really should see it. A very appropriate offering for this time of year, and a reminder, as if we needed it, of the debt of gratitude we owe to those who never came home, and those who did. We will remember them.

Main Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Brothers

Andy Godfrey

Andy Godfrey is a speaker with Outreach UK and has been in full-time Christian work for many years. He is a founding member of the Mark Kermode Appreciation Society and has a collection of nearly 3,000 movies. He’s also an ardent Bristol City fan.

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