Story of Russian slave unearthed among Jersey's war history

  • Report by ITV Channel's Sophie Dulson

Diary extracts from the occupation have revealed the remarkable story of a Russian slave, who lived in Jersey during the war.

Bokejon Akram, who was known locally as Tom, managed to escape the camps he was enslaved in and was taken in by a family in St Mary, who sheltered him from the Germans.

He kept a diary of his time here and described the moment he was captured by German soldiers.

"When the German's came near I was seized, with a despairing rage against him and all the cruelty he stood for, I lifted my spade and made at him with it and shouted I'll kill you first and you can kill me afterwards, he laughed."

Chris Addy Credit: ITV Channel

Chris Addy, Sites Curator at Jersey Heritage, has been looking into Tom's life to learn more about how his journey brought him to Jersey.

"He was a school teacher actually in Russia, he was an intelligent and educated man who had a good grasp of languages."

Tom's journey began in Soviet Russia, where he was later captured during the war and moved to a Prisoner of War Camp, in what is now known as Ukraine.

After this, he went on to make the 1,800 mile journey to St Malo before he took a boat to Jersey as a slave worker.

Tom was then taken to a camp in St John's Village called Lager Prien, where his hardship began, lugging stones at Ronez Quarry, before moving to a camp in St Peter.

Tom was finally moved to a slave camp in St Ouen, where he was able to plan and execute his escape.

Slaves working at Ronez Quarry in St John Credit: Société Jersiaise

Chris Addy says Tom's process was far from simple, having to maneuver round the parishes.

"He took the chance to escape and having actually been to St Mary's prior to that, where he received compassionate support from various families in that area, he decided to go back and knocked on the door of the Le Breton's."

Tom's diary entry from this moment illustrated the relief of finding a place to stay.

Credit: ITV Channel

"I had to go further afield for food in those days and often had to resort to eating raw swede or carrot to allay the pangs of hunger. But presently my situation was to mend, one day passing Mr Le Breton's Farm I had a God given impulse to ask if he would allow me to sleep there."

With little thought for themselves the Le Breton family took Tom in and gave him refuge in their barn.

Jersey Heritage said this is one of many examples of true selflessness from the local community .

"The fact that members of the civilian population here, were prepared to put themselves at the greatest risk to benefit individuals who they didn't know, who were in desperate need and it's just a really wonderful example of selflessness."

Tom remained with the Le Breton family in their barn until the end of the war, before making the journey back to Ukraine, but what happened to him after he left the island, is unknown.

"Sadly after this time there was no contact at all. The Le Breton children and descendants would be keen to know if anybody out there could help establish what happened to Tom."