13th May 2013
This experience was sent in to us with kind permission to
reprint, by S J Robinson.
What do you think to it? Please send your comments (or, indeed you OWN story) to email@example.com
S J Robinson has written a wonderful book of poems, appropriately entitled "Hindsight".
Hindsight would make a wonderful gift for anyone interested in War time. Below are some more notes about S J Robinson's fascinating experience and a small sample selection of her poems.
This book will soon be available online.
I believe that in my past life, I was a soldier of the 15th Royal Scots in the Great War. I actually only came across the regimental details this week.
Any way, my earliest memory/dream is dying in a war hospital, followed by (seeing life in reverse type of thing) being carried out of a trench through a screen of tree to the hospital.
I am watching myself from above left. I am on a stretcher and have a bandage round my head, with a large patch of blood soaked through on the left--I was younger than 2 when I had this dream.
Unless it was the final memory from my previous life. nothing much happened then, apart from the fact that I insisted my name was really Tommy.
I was three and watching the cenotaph service - I proceeded to tell my mum I wanted to go to the Somme.
She told me it was a nasty place and I promptly described it to her.
Since then there have been several instances like this. I always wanted to go to the battlefields too.
I have a dent in my head where the blood was in the dream/memory and when I have a migraine that's where it hurts.
I have a knee problem which the doctor says he would have said was caused by a slash with something like a bayonet - only there's no visible wound - the list goes on.
Most significant was when I had a nervous breakdown that started on July 1st 1996--80 years to the day the Somme started and the doc said the nearest thing he could equate the symptoms to is First World war shellshock.
I have been to the battle fields twice and have directed the bus driver when he got lost - there is much more, but I won't bore you.
Perhaps the oddest thing is that as a female who has never really read any war poetry,
I am now the country's youngest published 'war poet' and had my first one published at 17 after it was given to me, by a voice 'in' my head when I was at the battle fields.
I don't actually know the name of the soldier as we think the ''Tommy' came from British soldiers being called that - although it may have of course been that my name was Thomas.
The other name that means something to me is Charles but I would dearly love to know the name. someone suggested the surname might be Evans, but I 'm not sure, and getting permission to explore regimental lists is difficult to come by!
How I found out about the regimental details might interest you. I saw a programme where they were excavating some war dead in an effort to identify them for proper burial.
As soon as I noticed one particular body, I started feeling really sick with pounding dizziness in my head - then they turned him over and his helmet fell off his skull and the lady pointed to a bullet hole in the left.
My mum said to me "Why is it so smashed up where the exit wound would be?" and I went to explain to her but I couldn't speak but only point to my head. Mum said I'd gone as white as a sheet then she said "That's you, isn't it? " (she understands a bit)
Anyway, this guy was buried with the 15th Royal Scots , at the Somme, near where I'd directed the bus driver to before - so it's the right place and I've loved Scotland for a long time, and always feel patriotic for their side when they play football etc, even if its against the English!
And when I was little, the only skirt I would ever wear was a kilt!
But back to the point - the investigators discarded that body because it didn't have enough identifying evidence, other than that showing his regiment, for them to be able to do anything with so I never got to hear what they thought his name was.
But, that night, I was in so much pain in the appropriate sections of my head that my mother had to sit up with me, and the ache and sickness continued through the next day.
I've tried to regress myself to find out the name but it seems I'm not meant to find out!
OLD FRIEND'S LAST REQUEST
Do you see those footprints in the snow?
That young child's sledge? The rose-red glow?
They once were ours, and memories lend
Of age-long friendship, never end.
She has no grief: attends no worries:
My time stands still-for her it hurries...
That lad, with the tree-climbers' graz-ed knee
--He once was you: he once was me.
That girl, joining footballers, just for fun
--Thing's haven't changed since we were young.
Youth and Innocence, our Own Small World,
'Til evil snaked around us, curled
Now young men boast of loves, careers
For them the future holds no fears.
Made bomb-proof, shell-proof by decades' retort
War's again an adventure; killing, sport.
So, they, like us, drawn by battle-sun's glory
Won't heed an old man's tragic story
We who, once, a healthy, lively, strong
Cannot help but sleep beneath the Somme
But, you, the Left, can tell, must warn
Of stormy threat to spring's new dawn.
Our rose-red fades, grazed knees now rot
But our message must live, ne'er be forgot
From Us make them learn, let then receive
The legacy those before them leave
Tell them of reality, of loss, of pain
That war is fruitless, of who remain
If not for them, then speak for us
For what we fought for, died and lost
Let their spring, let their skies stay fine
Let not clouds of fourteen spoil thirty-nine...
NOW POPPIES GROW
Here, once, a soldier died in stalemate slow
Now where he fell, bright poppies grow.
Once horror reigned and death was rife,
Missing comrades haunted soldier's life
The shells, the noise, the battle throng,
A whistle foretold sleep eternal long;
For, over the top, he rejoined dead friends
In that sweet peace which never ends
Eighteen or twenty, maybe less,
Soldier's age of death, upon that crest.
A wasteful loss, a generation flown-
There, lie many, still Unknown
A chilling hush fills the mourning air
They rest here, safe, without age or care
Beneath long grass, under air so still
Peace hides their graves, in trench, on hill
The most worthy monument? A poppied field.
To the carnage? The Iron Harvest yield
But from where the birds in war have flown,
The ghosts of Ypres and Somme live on..
FALLEN IN ACTION
They said he had fallen, fallen from grace:
Deserted the line, without a trace
They said he was a Coward, deserving to die
We know he was ill, so you tell us why
He'd fought at Wipers, Mons and The Somme:
Won medals for bravery, slogged on and on:
Lost friends, lost a brother, but not once at all
Shirked from his duty, let courage stall
Then last night in a barrage, the Germans advanced
HE blocked their way, gave comrades a chance,
Ran back to the lines to call for some aid
So more senseless slaughter could be allayed
But he couldn't run, couldn't move, couldn't speak
When he saw his mate, blown to bits in a breach.
Should have been used to it? Been Prepared?
He was only nineteen-no wonder he's scared
They say he ran, deserted his station
A total disgrace to battalion and nation
No trial was given, 'Shellshock' dismissed
Though they'd never even tried to enlist
They'll shoot him at dawn, it'll say on his grave
Not mention the number of lives that he saved
But could they later, go to that place
And swear that he'd fallen, fallen from grace?
LAMENT OF THE FALLEN
We don't want your pity
We don't want your love
We don't want no sympathy
That is not enough
We just want you memory
So we did not die in vain,
So what we lost was worth it
So none must suffer again
We don't want no pity
We've had that enough
We want you to learn from us
So we can rest above
(Tyne cot is the largest War Grave Commission cemetery in the world and holds around 12,000 allied graves, plus 3 German causalities. On the surrounding walls are engraved the names of 35,000 unknown soldiers lost in the Ypres Salient, Belgium, in the latter stages of the conflict)
(We must remember with compassion those who survived the War
as well as those we lost-They suffer too)
I was young when I went to war...
Young and bold and strong
But what I saw, it made me old
My time seemed very long
'T was the War that made me old
Felt woe beyond my years
It was the War that tore my heart
With death of all my peers
'Til, like an old man, I was left
To cope alone, no friends
To grow, to fight, to carry on
While their youth never ends
A LITTLE WONKY
(To the tune of 'Little Donkey)
A little wonky, little wonky
Is my new abode
Got to keep up with subsidence
Stop it crumbling o'er
O! Tumbling shell tonight
Build again, build again!
Through roof the stars are bright
Mend again, mend again!
A little wonky, little wonky.
THE WAR MEMORIAL
A war memorial, standing straight
And proud against the sky
Issues this challenge, demanding still
Of those who pass it by
Do you recall men went to war?
These bodies that I guard?
Did you learn the lesson that they left?
Or legacy discard?
Most men fought and some men died
Some wounded, some remain
By ignoring that, you're not saving lives
You're killing them again!
They suffered long-in trench and pit
For principles they believed-
That sacrifice prevents repeat
--And were they all deceived?
I am not here to glorify war
Or justify it's right;
I am just here because men believed
Their death could make your future bright.
To a Friend - THE 'EMINENT' PSYCHOLOGIST
(W.H.R. Rivers 1864-1922)
Sanity, Friend, who understood
The turmoil of our minds
Who gained insight where none could see
Untwist where other wind
Mentor, teacher, who never judged
Who failure took away
Made all feel normal if he could
And kept our pain at bay
Though tired, he performed his task
Of making others well
While their condition, in his heart
Was putting him through hell
My dear friend, Rivers, where 'ere you are,
My thanks I grateful send
--For each time you gave your all
Still now as well as then
ELEVEN, ELEVEN, ELEVEN
I woke and it was morning
The guns at last were dead
An Armistice, signed yesterday
Had took away that dread.
The nurses all were laughing
The lads were giving cheers
As great news of that signing
Still rang about their ears
Eleven, Eleven, Eleven!
It should be wrought in song
Eleven, Eleven, Eleven!
That moment sought for long
Author and Artist Sue Robinson can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
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