Frankie Le Villio
A still from a film in the Imperial War Museum collection, showing Frankie Le Villio among released prisoners at Sandbostel concentration camp, Germany on 1 May 1945
Frankie Le Villio went to live with family in Nottingham after being freed from imprisonment by the Germans. He died of tuberculosis the following year, so weakened by the unspeakable conditions he endured in prison and concentration camps.
Although it was long believed that he had been with Harold Le Druillenec at Bergen Belsen, it is now known that they travelled through France together after their deportation from Jersey on 30 June 1944, and the two were together for a time at Alter Banter Weg concentration camp in north Germany.
Frank's crime was to ‘borrow’ a German motorbike for a ride.
His family originally came from Brittany, but Frank was born in Jersey in Le Geyt Road on 11 September 1925. His grandparents and their young family came to Jersey from the small village of Coet-Coet near Vannes, where for at least 300 years the family had lived and worked as ‘laboureurs du terre’.
His mother died when he was very young. His father was a barman and Frank was educated at the Sacré Coeur orphanage, and later at Vauxhall School. Frank had two sisters, one of whom moved back to France and the other to New Zealand.
For a while the whole family lived in a house in Museum Street. The late curator of the German Underground Hospital, Joe Mière, in his book, Never To Be Forgotten, wrote: ‘As a young lad Frank was always up to tricks, but he was kind and very generous and a good sport. He longed for, but never received, any parental love or guidance.’
In 2002 Ron Tierney, whose brother Joe was had been a schoolfriend of Frank, said: ‘He was a harmless, gullible sort of person. There was no malice in him, and everybody at Vauxhall School learnt to ride on his Matchless motor-bike’.
He was 15 at the start of the Occupation and refused to work for the Germans, and in 1944 he took a motor bike belonging to a German soldier, and went for a ride. He was caught, arrested by the German Military Police, charged with “military larceny”, and sentenced to three months imprisonment in France in June 1944, just before the D-Day invasions cut off Jersey from France.
He was sent initially to the notorious Fresnes prison near Paris, then on to two further prison camps – Belfort, and finally to Neuengamme, before ending up in Sandbostel.
Following the liberation of the camp and his repatriation to Britain, he was treated for tuberculosis, and then went to live in Nottingham with an aunt. Although he must have felt well enough to get work – he was employed as railway porter for a while – his health had deteriorated beyond recovery and he died in September 1946, aged just 21.