Ukrainian soldier 'Tom' Bokejon Akram was sheltered from the Nazis

Ukrainian soldier “Tom” Bokejon Akram was shielded from Nazis

An extraordinary family shared the story of Anne Frank (Britain’s Anne Frank) who ran away from Nazis at their home and kept a diary.

After escaping from his German captors, Phyliss Emily and John Le Breton kept ‘Tom’ behind trap doors.

Tom (real name Bokejon Aram) was a Ukrainian soldier, school teacher and prisoner of war taken by the Third Reich.

They sent him as a slave to Channel Island, Jersey. But he fled and was eventually taken in by Mr. and Mrs Le Breton.

The couple put their lives at risk by hiding the man in their home, where there were trap doors that could be used to escape.

The father told his five children fairy tales and kept a journal – much like Anne Frank, the teenager from Amsterdam.

He was called Tom by his family and taught English to him partly by sharing the Bible.

He survived three years with them and was returned to England in 1945.

After the war, they lost contact and now Jersey Heritage officials are trying to find out more.

Carolyn Horn, Carolyn’s 52-year-old grand-daughter and Phyliss, expressed her pride at the sacrifices made by her family to save Tom.

Phyliss Emily Le Breton and her husband John kept 'Tom' hidden away behind trap doors after he fled his German captors

John and Phyliss Le Breton, the wife of Emily Le Breton, kept ‘Tom’ hidden behind trap doors until he was freed from German captors.

Ms Horn, who lives together in Cyprus with her husband, and three of their children, stated that he became part of the family.

“My aunt claimed that she named him her favorite uncle because that is how he was known, Uncle Tom.

“My grandmother would talk all day about Tom. This just goes to show how kind they were. This makes me feel proud.

“It was a crisis time and there were German soldiers who came in when they needed.

“They risked their lives and their children’s lives to save the life of someone they did not know.

“There was an understaircase in the house, with a trapdoor behind it. This is how Tom could go from one side to another.

Reports say that Mrs and Mr Le Breton told each other, “We trusted him. He was the kind of man we could trust.”

“The children loved him. When he was able to understand English, they used to listen to his fairy tales.”

The Le Bretons risked their lives by hiding him their house (pictured) where he had trap door escape routes. He told their five young kids fairy stories and even kept a diary - just like the teenage Anne Frank in Amsterdam

Le Bretons put themselves at great risk hiding him in their house, where he was able to use trapdoor escape routes. The Le Bretons told the children fairy tales and kept a journal, just as Anne Frank did in Amsterdam.

Tom survived with them for three years and was repatriated to the Ukraine in 1945 by the British. Above: The interior of the family's home

Tom stayed with the family for three years, and in 1945 the British repatriated him to Ukraine. Above: Interior of family home

Phyliss and Emily's grand-daughter Carolyn Horn, 52, said she was immensely proud of what her family risked to save Tom's life. Above: Ms Horn on her grandmother's lap when she was young

Carolyn Horn, 52-year-old grand-daughter of Phyliss, and Emily, expressed her pride in what her family did to save Tom’s life. Above: Her grandmother holding Ms Horn when she was a child.

Tom began his journey in July 1941, when he was a young soldier from Ukraine and a schoolteacher who had never been married. He defended his homeland against German invasion.

In two hours, 12,000 of his coworkers died. Tom was made a PoW along with many other Ukrainians.

German soldiers took thousands of prisoners and turned them into slave labourers for the construction and mining of stone along with coastal defenses.

Tom found himself among 2,000 others who were taken to St Malo in Jersey, July 1942.

He was forced to work hard, but he ran off and was discovered in St Mary by the Le Bretons with their four young children.

Because they were worried, the children renamed Bokejon and Tom as Tom so that their little ones wouldn’t be surprised if anything was said.

Phyliss and John are reported to have said: 'We trusted this man, he was the sort of man we could trust. The children loved him and, when he could understand some English, he used to read them fairy stories.' Above: The Le Breton family

John and Phyliss said, reportedly: “We trusted him. He was the kind of man we could trust.” He loved his children and would read fairy tales to them when he understood English. Above: Le Breton Family 

Mr Le Breton was one of 20 Jersey men and women awarded a gold watch by the Soviet government for their courage in helping to shelter Russian and Ukrainian escapees. Above: Mr Le Breton's Jersey ID card

The Soviet government awarded Mr Le Breton a gold watch for his courage in sheltering Ukrainian and Russian escapees. Above: Mr Le Breton’s Jersey ID card 

The wartime ID card of Phyliss Emily Le Breton. In a bid to control the population, the Nazis ordered every person in the occupied Channel Island to be registered under the Registration and Identification of Persons (Jersey) Order, 1940.

The wartime ID card of Phyliss Emily Le Breton. The Nazis wanted to limit the population and ordered that every individual living on the Channel Island occupied be registered according to the Registration and Identification of Persons Order, 1940.

Tom spent the night in the stables, behind a trapdoor and inside a car concealed behind straw bales. A shed was also available in case of an emergency.

Dulcie Le Breton is Mrs Le Breton’s daughter. She remembers Dulcie reading fairy tales and playing with the children.

Dulcie was just four years old when the Occupation started. She remembers Tom as a “favourite uncle”

Tom made a promise to stay in touch with his family and friends before he was sent to Ukraine on May 25, 1945.

Three letters from Guernsey, where Tom is last known to have been in June 1945, arrived.

German soldiers are seen being given a lecture in the grounds of Victoria College, Jersey, where they were billeted during their occupation of the Channel Islands

German soldiers can be seen giving a lecture at Victoria College in Jersey. This is where they were stationed during the occupation of the Channel Islands.

German officers outside the Alderney branch of Lloyd's Bank, which they turned into their headquarters

German officers at the Alderney branch Lloyd’s Bank. They turned it into their headquarters

Later, Mr Le Breton would be one of twenty Jersey women and men who were awarded gold watches by the Soviet government in recognition for their bravery and help to rescue Ukrainian and Russian escapees.

Jersey Heritage historians are now asking for any additional information.

Chris Addy, site curator said that they were amazed at how many things they could find about them.

It’s never easy to predict the future. After 77 years, you never know what stories will emerge.

“It is always interesting to learn a new piece or research and then add it to our stories each year to remind them about this important part of Island history.” 


The Allies were defeated in France, June 1940. 

The UK government decided the Channel Islands would be too costly to defend and began evacuating military personal and equipment. 

Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister, was reported to have been reluctant to abandon the oldest British possession. Instead, he accepted the rationality of his military advisers. 

Many residents fled from the Channel Island to escape Nazi persecution. 

Alderney was the northerly main Chanel Islands. It is home to the majority of 1,400 indigenous people. This rock measures only three miles square.  

While many evacuated the Jersey or Guernsey areas, large numbers of people opted for staying. 

The Nazis didn’t know that the Allied forces were no longer protecting the islands. They began reconnaissance battles for their shores within two weeks. 

Total 44 people were killed by the Luftwaffe in raids against the ports.  

The Nazis soon occupied the islands, which became the only part of the British Empire conquered by the German Army. 

In accordance with other Third Reich countries, German authorities switched the time zone to CET from GMT. The island was also changed to drive on the right side during the German occupation.  

Residents had to leave their homes and cars, learn German at school and give up guns, cameras and boats. They also were restricted from accessing the beaches. 

Hitler thought the island occupation was a powerful propaganda tool. The islands were fortified as a result. 

Hitler sent the Channel Islands one-twelfth the amount of steel and concrete that was used to build the Atlantic Wall defense network. 

These islands had some of Europe’s most fortified regions, including Hohlgangsanlage tunnels and casemates as well as coastal artillery positions.

Some islands were home to forced labour camps. Volunteer camps sprung up in Guernsey, Jersey and other places.

This forced labor resulted in the construction of bunkers and gun emplacements.

In 1942, camps on Alderney, called Sylt and Norderney, were built to hold a few hundred forced labourers.  

However, a year later, on March 1, 1943, they were placed under the control of the SS-Untersturmführer Maximillian List, turning them into concentration camps. 

He was succeeded by SS-Obersturmführer Georg Braun in March 1944. Both men had been long-serving Nazi party members. Archive information shows that List ordered Braun to be ‘brutal and harshly treated’ while Braun was given’security’.

Hitler’s “Atlantic Wall” forced the laborers to create coastal defenses. In the four-month period, it was estimated that 20 percent of the camp population died.

Sylt concentration camp was closed in 1944 and the SS destroyed much of it to hide their crimes. 

During D-Day on ‎6 June 1944 the British troops bypassed the heavily armoured islands. 

After VE day in most of Europe, it took the Nazis on islands until May 9 1945 to surrender.  

British troops and ships liberated Guernsey & Jersey on this date. Sark was liberated by British troops and ships on May 10, 1945. The German forces in Alderney were surrendered to the United Kingdom on May 16, 1945. Alderney was liberated by prisoners of war on 20 May 1945. 

Alderney was one of the few remaining German garrisons to surrender after the end of World War II.