Briton sent to Nazi concentration camp has remains returned 70 years after his death
Briton who was sent from Jersey to Belsen death camp more than 70 years ago for ‘taking a Nazi officer’s bike for a spin’ is finally returned home posthumously after his grave is found
- Frank Le Villio stole a Nazi officer’s motorcycle when he was just 19-years-old
- He stole the bike and took it for a joyride in Nazi-occupied Jersey, where he lived
- He was charged with ‘military larceny’ and sentenced to imprisonment in France
- Later deported to Bergen-Belsen & died from tuberculosis year after his release
A Briton sent to a Nazi concentration camp for taking a German officer’s bike has had his remains returned more than 70 years after his death.
When he was just 19-years-old, Frank Le Villio stole a Nazi officers’ bike and took it on a joy ride in occupied Jersey.
He was charged with ‘military larceny’ and sentenced to three months’ imprisonment in France just before D-Day in 1944, before being deported to Bergen-Belsen.
Frank Le Villio stole a Nazi officers’ bike and took it on a joy ride in occupied Jersey when he was just 19-years-old
Mr Le Villio survived the ordeal but was severely weakened by the horrific conditions he endured in prisons and concentration camps.
He died of tuberculosis aged 21 after returning to the UK to live with his aunt in Nottingham, a year after his release from Bergen-Belsen.
He is understood to be one of only two Brits to survive the infamous Nazi concentration camp but the location of his pauper’s grave was only discovered last year.
Following a campaign to find his remains, he has finally been returned to Jersey where a special ceremony attended by more than 100 people was held on Wednesday.
He has finally been returned to Jersey where a special ceremony attended by more than 100 people was held on Wednesday.
His remains will be reburied today at the Surville Cemetery, close to where he grew up in St Hellier.
Mr Le Villio’s cousin Stan Hockley said he was ‘delighted’ to have him home after the service yesterday.
Looking back on his memories of his cousin, Mr Hockley said: ‘I remember kicking a ball around with him in the street; happy memories.
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‘He was a bit of a Jack the lad, running about and doing all these things.
‘He was mad on motorbikes, he had his own Matchless motorbike and he adored it.’
Stanley Keiller, who was a young boy during the Nazi’s occupation of Jersey, helped track down Mr Le Villio’s remains after discovering the story surrounding his burial.
He contacted a local priest and undertaker to join the search and Mr Le Villio’s body was found buried in a paupers grave at Wilford Hill Cemetery in 2017.
Mr Keiller added: ‘He was a young teenager who was taken away from us in those occupation years, and there’s a satisfaction in having found him.
Pictured: The occupation registration card of Frank Le Villio
‘He would have lived a short and sad life, but now he could rest in peace.’
Although Mr Le Villio’s family in Jersey were aware he was buried in Nottingham, they went more than seven decades without knowing the location of his grave.
Speaking on the incident leading up to his cousin’s arrest, Mr Hockley said: ‘It was harmless fun, really, but he was caught, arrested by the German Military Police, charged with ‘military larceny’, and sentenced to three months imprisonment in France.
He was sent to the notorious Fresnes prison near Paris, then on to two further prison camps – Belfort, and finally to Neuengamme, before ending up in Belsen.
Mr Hockley added: ‘The emphasis these days is on ‘”forgive and forget”. But those who say that – do they have relatives who were tortured and murdered, just for having an illicit ride on a bike?’
Le Villio’s remains will be reburied today at the Surville Cemetery, close to where he grew up in St Hellier
Bergen-Belsen concentration camp: A ‘hell on Earth’ where tens of thousands of Jews and other Nazi enemies were sentenced to death
Bergen-Belsen was a Nazi concentration camp in what is today Lower Saxony in northern Germany, southwest of the town of Bergen near Celle.
It was originally built as a prisoner of war camp in 1943, where Jewish hostages were held with the intention of training them for German soldiers.
Belsen later expanded to accommodate Jews from other concentration camps.
Overcrowding, lack of food and poor sanitary conditions caused outbreaks of typhus, tuberculosis, typhoid fever and dysentery, which led to the death of more than 35,000 inmates in just the first few months of 1945 alone.
Bodies were left to rot on the floor, while other corpses of other victims were piled up around the camp.
The camp was liberated in 15 April 1945 by British soldiers, where around 60,000 prisoners were found inside. Many of those were extremely ill or malnourished.
The exact number of people who died at the camp is unknown, but estimates place the number at 50,000, many of them Jews.
The number of prisoners at the camp is unknown, as SS soldiers destroyed files as British troops marched on the hell hole. Less than half the estimated 120,000 prisoners at the camp were mentioned by name in the remaining documents.
Anne Frank was among one of the prisoners to enter the camp and never leave alive. She is believed to have died in February or March 1945, just months before the camp was liberated.
Describing the concentration camp, Major Dick Williams, one of the first British soldiers to enter and liberate the camp, said: ‘It was an evil, filthy place; a hell on Earth.’
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