Sir Harry Lauder (1870-1950) was born on 4 August 1870 at 3 Bridge Street, Portobello, Midlothian, the eldest of eight children. At the age of 12 his father died and the family moved to Arbroath, where Lauder’s mother had relatives and where he went to work in the mill in 1882. It was here that Harry began his singing career.


When war broke out in 1914 Lauder was in Australia accompanied by his son John. John was called back to his regiment, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, but Lauder continued with his tour. While in the United States he did what he could to encourage America to enter the war on Britain’s side both from the stage and at meetings.


After a performance in London at the Shaftesbury Theatre, Harry was handed a telegram by a porter, announcing that 'Captain John Lauder killed in action, December 28. Official. War Office'. Harry was devastated.


Harry Lauder returned to the stage in London, three nights later. His act included a scene set at the Horse Guards. A company of men marched past in khaki as Harry Lauder sang a song about the boys coming home. Harry wrote the song Keep Right on to the End of the Road in the wake of John's death, and would memorialise his son, who was buried in France, in the little Lauder cemetery in Glenbranter. For his services during the war, Lauder was knighted in January 1919. Winston Churchill stated that Lauder, "... by his inspiring songs and valiant life, rendered measureless service to the Scottish race and to the British Empire".


Harry Lauder was later to say that on the death of his son:


I felt that for me everything had come to an end with the reading of that dire message. It seemed to me that for me the board of life was black and blank.. For me there was no past and there could be no future. Everything had been swept away, erased, by one sweep of the hand of a cruel fate.


For more information, click the following links:

 

Sir Harry Lauder.

A Minstrel in France.

Letter about the Harry Lauder Fund.

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