Saving Russian Bill
Feodor Buryi was born in 1919 to a Smolensk family that moved to Tomsk in Siberia when he was a child. After the Germans started their invasion of the Soviet Union, Feodor was called up to serve, aged 21. He was placed in the air force, but in October 1941 his plane was shot down by the Germans. Feodor was the only survivor of the 3-person crew. Landing behind enemy lines, he went underground remaining undetected until the spring offensive. The Germans decided to round up all the soldiers caught behind their lines and put them into P.O.W. camps. In June 1942 Feodor was transported, with hundreds other captured men, across Europe, arriving in St Malo where he was sent on to Jersey.
Russian P.O.W's being transported to work camps
Once in Jersey, Feodor was processed by the Organisation Todt (OT) and moved to camp Immelmann. Immelmann was found at the bottom of Jubilee Hill in St Peter. It was a notorious camp known for its harsh treatment of workers. Feodor decided this was not going to be his life and decided he would escape the OT camp. After being caught twice trying to escape he received punishments ranging from humiliation to beatings, all of which drained his strength.
On the 23rd of September 1942, with the help of the other inmates, Feodor’s third attempt was successful. Out on a work assignment, the others distracted the guards and Feodor escaped.
On the run through the rural parish of St Ouen, Feodor arrived at the Farmhouse of René Le Mottée.
René Le Mottée Courtesy of Jersey Heritage
Remains of the OT Camp Immelmann, taken by the RAF in February 1945 (copyright of the crown).
"I knew at once that he was an escaped Russian prisoner from one of the camps. I took him into the kitchen and gave him some milk. He gulped down a glassful and then fainted. I knew that, whatever the consequences, for I had four young children, I had to help this Russian ally. We installed him in a hay-loft, where he lived for three months. The children looked upon him as their brother and called him Bill. He told us about the terrible plight of the prisoners in the camps, so we used to go as far as the quarries and leave food for the prisoners to find. However, there were informers among the local population. Someone gave Bill away to the Germans. One day I saw some of the Gestapo making their way toward the house. Literally, at the last moment, Bill managed to get away."
René Le Mottée.
‘Bill’ then approached Louisa Gould, whom he knew already and told her that he had nowhere to go. Louisa Gould ran a village shop at Millais in the parish of St Ouen. She was a widow with two sons Edward & Ralph. Edward, who was an anti-aircraft control officer aboard HMS Bonaventure, was killed in action when his ship was torpedoed off Alexandria in March 1941. Ralph had continued his studies in Exeter and remained in England during the Occupation, joining the RAF. Louisa said yes to Bill as she wanted to prevent another mother losing her son.
Louisa Gould's home. The side extension was used as the shop.
Bill soon became a member of the family and Louisa, her brother Harold, her sister Ivy and friends all helped to teach Bill English. Bill was taught to use a French accent, so that the Germans would not believe he was Russian. However, it was very clear to the locals Bill was in fact Russian.
Louisa had taken out an insurance policy with the General Accident Life Corporation and needed to make a claim due to a burn on one of her rugs from a coal ember. Bob Le Sueur, who single-handedly ran the Jersey branch of the General Accident Life Corporation during the Occupation, visited Louisa to complete the paperwork. Bob met Bill and immediately knew he was not a French man. Due to Bob’s work, he could visit many people and properties without drawing suspicion from the German Authorities. Bill soon received a forged ID Card, a local gentleman, Oscar Le Breuilly, had “lost’’ his and it was soon modified for Bill to use.
Oscar Le Breuilly's German identification record, it notes the request for a duplicate. Courtesy of Jersey Heritage
Bob Le Sueur Courtesy of Jersey Heritage
On the 13 June 1942, the Germans ordered that all wireless sets belonging to the civil population of the Channel Islands be to be surrendered. Louisa had not paid any attention to this order and kept her wireless radio set in her bedroom. Each night at 10 pm (Jersey was moved to European time) she, Bill and any guests would listen to the BBC 9 pm news broadcast. She was known to pass on any news to her shoppers.
Louisa Gould was an incredible person, brave, strong and sometimes stubborn. From our research and interviews with people who knew her, it was clear that she was too trusting of others and did not believe the German soldiers would do anything. It was, of course, not the soldiers that would do something but the German Secret Field Police (Geheime Feldpolizei or GFP, for short).
It is believed that neighbours ofLouisawroteadamming letter to the German Administration, but incorrectly addressed it to ‘Victoria College’ instead of ‘Victoria College House’ where the administration was based. Vice principal of the College Pat Tatam steamed the letter open, read the content and then re-addressed it, thereby creating a 24-hour delay. Pat arranged for a messenger to be despatched to warn Louisa about the impending raid.
Louisa, with the help of Alice Gavey, immediately removed all traces that Bill had been in her house and hid the wireless radio. At 6:00 am the next morning Bill left for the home of Ivy Forster. That day, 25th of May 1944, the Germans raided Louisa’s house, arresting her and Alice. In a rush to hide all the traces of Bill, the pair had missed a Russian to English Dictionary, Gift labels to Bill and from Louisa and Ivy as well as a camera given to Bill.
Bill soon arrived at Ivy Fosters home. Ivy had also been harbouring a Russian slave, George Koslov, an officer who had also escaped camp Immelmann. George was a restless man and did not enjoy being cooped up. He used to walk around the town and even went to the theatre with the Fosters, where he sat alongside German officers. Bob Le Sueur soon arrived at the house, and a discussion was started on what to do next. Bob recommended that the two Russians leave with him and he would find them hiding places. Bill and Ivy believed the Germans would not come looking. Arthur, Ivy’s husband, soon returned from work to find Bill and agreed with Bob that they needed to be moved urgently. Bob moved both Bill and George that evening. He would not tell the Fosters where they were going to go in fear of German interrogation. On the 1st of June, one week after Louisa’s arrest, the Fosters home was raided, and Ivy arrested.
On the 8th of May, the Germans arrest to of Louisa’s closest friends. Berthe Pitolet, a French housekeeper who had lived in Jersey for 25 years and worked in town, and Dora Hacquoil, a schoolteacher. Pitolet was a regular visitor at Louisa’s house and would spend three or four weeks at a time with her. Hacquoil joined Louisa and Bill in the daily ten o’clock BBC radio broadcast in Louisa’s bedroom.
The last to be arrested was Harold Le Druillenec, Louisa’s brother, it is believed the informants had advised the Germans about the people visiting Louisa for her BBC broadcasts. As Harold’s wife Phyllis and Ivy’s husband Arthur rarely visited Louisa, they were not interviewed or investigated by the GFP.
The trial of those arrested was completed on the 22nd of June 1944, when noises from the battle in Normandy were heard by those in the court room, and all were found guilty, and sentences passed.
A copy of the sentences handed down by the court marshal. Courtesy of Jersey Heritage
Ivy Forster was sentenced to a total of five months and fifteen days for prohibited reception of a wireless transmission and abetting breach of the working peace and unauthorised removal. Ivy survived after escaping deportation because a doctor at the Jersey General Hospital forged papers saying she was not well enough to leave the Island.
Harold le Druillenec was sentenced to a total of five months for prohibited reception of a wireless transmissions in the company of other persons. Harold was sent to Belsen concentration camp and is believed to have been one of only two British survivors.
Listen Here to Harold Osmond le Druillenec, account of the appalling conditions inside the concentration camp during its final days.
This is a photo of Luis Boneguer the second British survivor
Berthe Pitolet was sentenced to a total of four months and fifteen days for prohibited reception of a wireless transmission and abetting breach of the working peace and unauthorised removal. On the journey to the German camps, Berthe was with Louisa at Renne prison when it was hit by an Allied bomb. Berthe escaped and as she was French she quickly blended into the city population with the assistance of locals. One week later the city was liberated by American troops, and Berthe was free.
Alice Gavey was sentenced to a total of three months for abetting.
Dora Hacquoil was sentenced to a total of two months for abetting breach of the working peace and unauthorised removal. Dora also stated later that she owed her relatively lenient sentence to Louisa Gould’s intervention.
"I was charged with listening in, but Lou vowed and declared that I always arrived too late. They accepted her word, a week later she, Harold and Berthe were transported to the Continent. However, for her statement, I should have suffered the same fate."
was sentenced to a total of 2 years’ imprisonment for failing to surrender a wireless radio, prohibited reception of a wireless transmission and abetting breach of the working peace and unauthorised removal. She was taken to Ravensbrück concentration camp where initially she gave English lessons to her companions, before falling ill and eventually being taken to the gas chamber. She was murdered on the 13th of February 1945. Louisa’s story is to be told in a film “Another Mother's Son”, due for release in 2017.
Feodor Polycarpovitch Burriy (Bill)
Bob Le Sueur had moved both Bill and George into his office before the raid at the Fosters. He moved Bill to a temporary accommodation over the next few weeks then moved him to the flat of two conscientious objectors, Mike Frowd and René Franoux. They had arrived in Jersey in 1940 and occupied a flat at 7 Grosvenor Terrace. Bill had an amazing talent for reproducing photos in ink or pencil. He was soon able to start a small operation for selling his work, with Bob’s assistance; a popular work of his was a drawing of Jesus. Bob would tell potential buyers that the artist “Oscar” was very ill and confined to bed, where he would draw these works of art. Bob opened a bank account for Bill and kept his profit safe. Bill would often go cycling with Bob, and as Liberation was on the horizon, the two of them and friends greeted the incoming British boats from Victoria Pier. After the war, Bill first worked for the Russians as a translator, before returning to the Soviet Union. He was approached by British Intelligence who asked him to consider being a spy. Bill said no and returned home. As with all repatriated Soviet citizens, he was greeted with suspicion and remained under surveillance by the KGB for the next twenty years. In 1992 Bob was delighted to visit Bill and his second wife in Tomsk.
Feodor Polycarpovitch Burriy (Bill)
René Franoux Courtesy of Jersey Heritage
Mike Frowd Courtesy of Jersey Heritage
Kimberley with one of Bill's drawings of Bob, given to him for his Birthday in 1944.
On the back it is signed by Mike Frowd, René Franoux and Bill. After the war Bill signs it again in Russian.
With kind permission from Bob, we would like to share this Photo of Bob, Nadia (Bills Wife) and Bill taken in Tomsk 1992.
The Jersey victims listed below are those who died in the Holocaust or immediately after as a direct result of mistreatment during the Holocaust.
Lest we forget
Canon Clifford Cohu
Walter Allen Dauny
George James Fox
Maurice Jay Gould
Peter Bruce Johnson
William Howard Marsh
Edward Peter Muels
Leonce L'Hermitte Ogier
Frederick William Page
Clarence Claude Painter
Clifford Bond Queree
Marcel Fortune Rossi
John (Jack) Soyer
Joseph (Joe) Tierney
Frank Rene Le Villio