Nazi camp survivor Frank Le Villio to be repatriated

Frank Le Villio's registration cardImage copyright Jersey Heritage
Image caption Frank Le Villio worked as a mechanic’s apprentice

A Nazi concentration camp survivor whose unmarked grave was discovered in Nottingham after 70 years is to be repatriated.

Frank Le Villio’s family has been raising money to return his body to Jersey, where he grew up, but was £7,000 short of its target.

Now the parishes of St Saviour and St Helier, from the Channel Island, has said it will fund the re-burial.

Mr Le Villio’s cousin Stan Hockley said it was “wonderful news”.

When he was 19 Mr Le Villio stole a German officer’s motorbike in occupied Jersey and was sent to the Neuengamme and Sandbostel camps in Germany.

He was deported in 1944 and after the war lived in Nottingham, where he died aged 21 from tuberculosis.

He was buried in a paupers’ grave – along with six others – that was discovered last year.

Image caption Members of Mr Villio’s family attended a service at his grave in Nottingham

Mr Le Villio’s unmarked grave was found at Wilford Hill Cemetery, in Nottingham, where a service was later held to honour him.

His cousin Stan Hockley, from Jersey, has been trying to raise funds for the repatriation since last May.

The 85-year-old said: “It is wonderful, wonderful news and we are so delighted.

“After we found Frank, after 70 years, our main wish was to bring him back to his family in Jersey.

“It’s closure to a long, long occupation story and we can put flowers on his grave.

“So many people have helped and we are very grateful for all their combined efforts.”

Image caption Mr Le Villio developed tuberculosis while in the camps

Paul Battrick, of Pitcher & Le Quesne Funeral Directors in Jersey, has offered the company’s services to the family for free.

He said: “Being a Jersey man, it’s a privilege to bring an honourable gentleman back to his home and place him to rest with his parents at Surville Cemetary, in St Helier.

“We will put a Jersey flag on his coffin and give him a dignified funeral in his birth parish of St Saviour.”

Sadie Le Sueur-Rennard, the Constable of St Saviour, said: “We are more than happy to help a family to bring Frank home. Let him come home.”

The repatriation is due to take place in the summer.

Channel Islands postal workers’ plight under Nazi rule revealed

Radio station site in GuernseyImage copyright Courtesy of BT Heritage & Archives
Image caption A British Telecoms archive image of a radio station site in Guernsey after the occupation – the four men pictured are unknown

The struggle of two post office workers forced to live under Nazi rule in the Channel Islands has been revealed.

Telephone engineers Mr L Le Huray and Mr P G Warder were separated from their families for five years from 1940.

A retired BT engineer recently took files to BT Archives in London that show the islands’ governments held the pair back to train staff.

Authorities also resisted an attempted rescue by the RAF, the files have also revealed.

More news from the Channel Islands.

Image copyright Courtesy of BT Heritage & Archives
Image caption The documents given to the archive contain memos, letters and maps compiled on telecommunications operations in the Channel Islands during the war

Mr Le Hurray was one of three operators based in Jersey before the war, and Mr Warder one of five in Guernsey.

Letters between post office mangers suggested Mr Le Hurray and Mr Warder had “fallen victims to their duty” after the States of Jersey and Guernsey refused to let them leave until they had trained others to use the telecoms equipment.

Further letters say although the men were instructed to leave on 19 June and 29 June, “each time the decision was reversed after representations had been made by the island authorities”.

Image copyright Courtesy of BT Heritage & Archives
Image caption In 1940 the States of Guernsey said the engineers had a duty to remain as long as communication was possible

The occupation of the Channel Islands (30 June 1940 – 9 May 1945):

  • 28 June 1940, the Luftwaffe bombed Jersey and Guernsey, unaware that the islands were undefended, killing 44 people
  • 30 June – 25 July 1940, German forces occupy Guernsey, Jersey, Sark, Alderney and finally Herm (although troops were not stationed there)
  • 6 June 1944, following the D-Day landings food lines cut between the Channel Islands and German occupied France
  • The Red Cross ship SS Vega begins delivering food parcels as the islands begin to starve
  • 8 May 1945, VE Day, German forces do not yet surrender
  • 9 May 1945, Liberation Day, unconditional surrender signed by German command in the Channel islands

A rescue attempt was launched by the RAF in July 1940, but British troops again met resistance from the island’s governments.

Writing in a letter to Mrs Le Huray the mission’s commander, Francis Taylor, says they would have succeeded “but for the attitude adopted by the Bailiff of Guernsey” who informed him both men were being “retained” by the islands.

Image copyright Courtesy of BT Heritage & Archives
Image caption All other post office telecoms workers were evacuated, and Mr Le Huray and Mr Warder were the last due to leave
Image copyright Courtesy of BT Heritage & Archives
Image caption Communications were passed on to the engineers’ families who had been evacuated with other post office staff

Communications were re-established shortly after Victory in Europe Day (8 May 1945) when, according to the post office accounts, Mr Warder decided to “take over” the post office station in Jersey.

“Presenting himself at the Jersey repeater station [he] informed the officer in charge of the guard that he intended to take over the building on behalf of the British Post Office.

“The officer clicked his heels, saluted and said ‘very good Mr Warder’.

“The repeater station was once more British property.”