Updated: Jan 10
My name is James Robinson known by everyone as 'Jimmy'.
I grew up in a small rural town on the South Island of New Zealand. In our local community hall, placed on the wall was the Roll of Honour of fallen soldiers from our community from both World Wars. I remember sitting there as a young child and pondering the names and wondering what happened to them and where those soldiers lay now.
Of course I now know that not all of them were ever found and laid to rest with the honor and respect they deserve and thus still remain missing to this day. Many years later I found myself working in lots of different countries around the world doing my job in underground mining. One of the places I went on holiday to was a small yet amazing place, Latvia - which I fell in love with. I have since moved here and married a wonderful lady, we now have a family and I call Latvia home.
I had known both world wars had ravaged their way backwards and forward across the countryside destroying cities, towns and lives alike. Still to this day you can see the marks of war in Riga, the capital city and many other towns and villages. However, it was only when I left Riga to see more of the country that I saw just how many soldiers had lost their lives here and were laid to rest in the many both small and large war cemeteries.
I did not know that 1000s still lay lost in the fields and forests of Latvia until I found this group of men and women that have the passion to find and identify as many of these lost soldiers as they can. That group of course is Legenda and with the help from one of the members, Andris, I got involved and now regularly take part in searching the fields and forests of Latvia and beyond with them.
In my time with Legenda I have made some great friends and been on some remarkable adventurers finding soldiers and helping identify some of them. I also took part in looking for a church bell that was taken down by locals in the village of Subate in the east of Latvia so it could be hidden and not melted down. Legenda remarkably managed to find that bell and it now hangs back in its rightful place.
I have proudly taken part in reburying soldiers we have recovered and humbly witnessed family members crying with both joy and sadness that a relative that they never met has been found and finally buried alongside his comrades and has received the dignity of a marked grave at long last.
Jimmy with the Legenda Team - The Church Bell was found buried during the war in order to save it from the war industry. Photo: Legenda 2020
I have been asked before if anything worries me about what we do?
The only thing that I can say does concern me is that we can never find them all and finally give them the respect they deserve before they are lost to time forever.
Thanks to those that supported us in 2020 and we look forward to delivering results in 2021!