I have known of my previous life as a soldier in the Great War since the age two years, maybe just before that. My first memory was dying in a war hospital: you may read the memory in the list below. From that point onwards, certain phrases, questions I asked, habits and ways of approaching a task have given away clues to that existence as well. One of these was my steadfast love for a wonderful big brother I had: I found this brother in 1991, and recalled that his name was Andrew: although our exact relationship did not occur to me immediately, his name did. What I didnt know then was that I had actually had another brother, by the name of Will: he was Andrews twin. That welcome discovery only came to light this year (Sept 2003).
I have written poetry since I was eight years old, starting with hymns1 I was given my first war poem whilst on a school/sixth form trip to the battlefields of the Western front in 1994,: Now Poppies Grow was also the first I had accepted for publication. I say given because the poems just come to me, sometimes whole: I dont often have to think them out at all. The drawings are similar: they come to my mind, I draw them. I have drawn soldiers from an early age, but all of these on site date from after the first poem. Some match with poems, although that was not a deliberate process: some do not. They are all originalI believe I also had these talents as a soldier. The only thing I must point out to the reader is that until I was well into University I had not read a war poem, nor really studied the war: the only poetry I knew was two lines from the poem already mentioned in Lieutnant Schafers memories: In Flanders Fields
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not rest,
though poppies grow in Flanders fields
These lines have been in my head since that early memory and I take them to give me my mission statement making sure that what happened to soldiers like us, like Jamie under 20 years old, is remembered, so it does not happen again. That is one of the reasons why, I believe, that I have come back thus my poetry and drawings and so on, are my way of not breaking faith.