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‘Great Escaper’ Bernie Jordan’s D-Day medals on display for first time at The D-Day Story

The medals of D-Day ‘Great Escaper’ Bernie Jordan will go on display publicly for the first time along with other items belonging to him and from the film he inspired at The D-Day Story museum in Portsmouth.

Bernie’s real WWII medals will be on display, along with the replica medals worn by Michael Caine in his role, playing Bernie, and other memorabilia from the 2023 film The Great Escaper. The medals include the 1939-45 star, the Atlantic star with France and Germany clasp and the Italy star.

The Great Escaper film tells the story of secretly Bernie leaving a Hove care home to attend the D-Day 70 commemorations in Normandy, which captured the attention of world’s media at the time.

The display is launching at The D-Day Story on 29 May and will run throughout the national D-Day 80 commemorations being hosted in Portsmouth on 5 June.

The D-Day Story is run by Portsmouth City Council, and Leader Cllr Steve Pitt said: “Bernie Jordan’s wartime medals have never before been on display anywhere in the world. They are the very same medals he hid under his raincoat when, as an 89-year-old, he travelled from a care home to Portsmouth and then on to Normandy by ferry to join the 70th anniversary commemorations. His determined actions made him a national celebrity and we are honoured to have this extremely rare chance to show off his medals and celebrate his life at The D-Day Story museum.”

Bernie’s story also inspired the film ‘The Last Rifleman’, and the replica medals worn by Pierce Brosnan in the film will also be on display, along with:

  • Papers used by Bernie to plan his ‘escape’
  • The clapper board used during filming of The Great Escaper
  • An original Bob cartoon from Sunday Telegraph of Bernie as Steve McQueen on a motorcycle which featured in the film
  • A 1940s photograph of Bernie in Royal Navy uniform
  • A portrait painting of Bernie by artist Graham Clarke
  • Some of the thousands of birthday cards Bernie received after his return to his care home

The items are on loan to The D-Day Story from Scott and Karen Harrington of the ‘Harrington Best of British Collection, and will be on display in The D-Day Story museum from 29 May to end of June 2025, if not longer. The display is included in the general admission fee. For tickets go to
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