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July 25, 2014


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David Green

i remember Mr Devilla/Reece as a teacher for a while he was our scoutmaster....i always thought him to be a pervert he was always drawing scantily dressed women on the blackboard...He had an for the Lovely Miss Stanton the art teacher.

Paul Flynn

Many thanks. Another anecdote on this puzzling man whose life was an enigma.
Paul Flynn

Christopher (Sidney) Spain

I was a french language pupil of his at Markfield, before I left in 1964. We were an unruly class,and he once called out an innocent member of the class, and made him pick one of us out and cane them. It was vary bizarre.

Philip Gostling

I remember "Vicomte Di Villa" well. While not appearing to be a very good French teacher I now realise that he inspired me to take an interest in France and I later realised that I learnt more from him than I realised.
I do recall him being much liked by most of his pupils at my school. I was at Landseer Boys Ipswich.
I note that another respondent who was in the same class as me described the school as "mediocre" but I disagree. After 5 years at this school I was set up to enjoy a successful and rewarding career followed by a comfortable retirement. I have a lot to be grateful to both Mr Di Villa and Landseer School for.

Jim Regan

I remember eugene di villa ... I still have school reports signed by him, he was my form teacher in 1959/60. He called me Jumbo, could have been my ears but more likely It was because I was known as Jim or Jimbo. He was a great man, friendly and always good for a laugh. He always said he could see behind him with his special glasses .... sorry to hear of his passing. Hi also to Melvyn Ackerman and Barry Watkinson, two names I remember well. Nice to hear your comments .....

Paul Flynn

That is fascinating. So many point out that he was a good teacher and a charming companion. He was also a fantasist incapable oftelling the truth.

Paul Flynn MP

M.P.Newport West,

01633 262 348/ 0788 792 5699/ 020 7219 3478

Twitter: @paulflynnmp


Blog: paulflynnmp.co.uk

Meurig Jenkins

I have just discovered a birthday card from the Viscount de Villa. I was an art student at Newport and he was my landlord in Allt yr Un(?). This was 1968 / 69.
Three of us had digs with him and his wife, a nurse. When we all returned on a Sunday our evening meal was served in their dining room, full silver service and just the three of us!
He became a governor at the art College in the last term of our time there. Both he and his wife were always very supportive and polite.

Keith Madkell

I remember Mr Reece De Ville from my school days at Markfield, he rented a room at a friends house in Earlsmead Rd Tottenham , I lived across the road , I do recall a time when our metalwork and technical drawing teacher Mr Archer did a repair on Mr Reece's metal leg they were both laughing and making jokes , fond memories , I left Markfield in 1960 , Mr Reece left to take up a new appointment . So sad to hear the way passed away . Keith Maskell

Paul Flynn

Thanks. Your recollection match those of others. I am still puzzled about his failure to leave any money or property that could have been used to pay for a gravestone. Good to see that thanks to local people a gravestone has now been put in place.

Best wishes,

Paul Flynn MP

Barry Watkinson

I remember Di villa. am sorry to hear of his passing, I received a "posh" Christmas card every year.
I tried to locate him when ididnt receive a card but had no luck at the time.
He came to visit me in Stanstead Abbots Ware around 18 years ago completely out of the blue after attending some meeting in StAlbans.
My wife was fascinated by his stories of his involvement with politics and his knowledge of certain people one being Maggie Thatcher, and dignitaries he met in the Lords.
I remember him as a good teacher, I don't think I learnt much French but every little bit helped, He was Mr Rees when I started at Markfield so then him becoming a " Viscount " was most most fascinating at the time.
I agree with Melvyn who I remember from Markfield School he was popular and could tell and good story.
Barry Watkinson attended Crowland Rd /Markfield 1958 to 1963.

Graham Woolnough

I rememberEugene di Villa very well. He taught me French at Landseer Secondary Modern School Ipswich from 1962 to 1964. He was pretty much the only redeeming aspect of an otherwise mediochre school. He was unauthodox and not very effective in teaching us French and we doubted many of his stories but in other ways he was inspirational. he introduced me to medieval architecture and took me to cathedrals, churches and castles all over the country, often at his own expense. He sent me Christmas cards emblazoned with his impressive (but totally fictitious) title for many years after I left Ipswich. I often think of him and speak of him.

Paul Flynn

Thank you Melvyn. That is fascinating. Your assessment of him is very close to mine. Good to have confirmation that he was a good teacher,.
Be grateful to hear more details. Which school and when. When did you realise that his stories were false and why?

Melvyn Ackerman

I agree he was a good teacher; playful and popular with his pupils and an effective communicator.
However, the whole French persona and how he lost his leg are a total fabrication.
As a pupil from the first intake after he changed his name, It is easy to see how he re-invented himself. He was a fantasist of epic proportions; but a good man nonetheless.

Mr Robert Game

I remember Mr Devilla/Reece well. I attended Crowland Rd and Markfield schools, Tottenham from 1960 - 1964 and Mr DI villa was our French master. He was a marvellous teacher loved by all of his pupils. We knew that he had a false leg, though he never spoke of this himself but it was commom knowledge among the pupils that as a french citizen, he had lost a leg during the nazi occupation of France. This happened when he was fighting with the French Resistance. Of course I do not know that this is true but I choose to believe it and will always remember Mr Reece/ di ville as a great teacher who also inspired a great love of the French language, and was great fun as a teacher.

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