A Minstrel in France by Harry Lauder

Minstrel in FranceWearing his trademark kilt and carrying a twisted walking stick (for which the shrub “Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick” was named), Sir Harry Lauder (1870-1950) entertained audiences around the world with his Scottish songs and humor. The great tragedy in his life, however, was the loss of his only child John, an officer in the famed Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, who died while fighting in France in 1916. Minstrel in France is a tribute by Sir Harry to his son, as well as a narrative of Sir Harry’s 1917 trip to France to entertain British troops and to visit John’s grave.

While in France, Sir Harry often gave impromptu roadside concerts for British soldiers and especially delighted in the opportunity to sing to his beloved Highlanders. After pressing senior British Army officials for the chance to visit troops at the front-line, he had to cut short one performance because German artillery started lobbing shells into the trench where he was singing. Although Minstrel in France was published over 90 years ago, it reminds us of how much soldiers, regardless of the era, welcome – and need – the diversion that a few hours of entertainment can provide.

One note of caution for prospective readers: you will either be frustrated or enchanted by Sir Harry’s literary Scottish dialect. I think I figured it out from the context in which it was used, but even online Scottish dictionaries couldn’t help me with “verrainjudeecious.”

Availability: SMCM
Review Submitted by: Mary Hall
Rating: Recommended                                                                                       Add to DeliciousAdd to DiggAdd to FaceBookAdd to Google BookmarkAdd to RedditAdd to StumbleUponAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Twitter

One thought on “A Minstrel in France by Harry Lauder

  1. Brian Attwood

    I think you’ll find Sir Harry meant

    “Very injudicious!”

    Haven’t had an opportunity to read the book but I recall the best teacher I ever had, the war historian Dennis Winter (author of Death’s Men and much else) telling us 30 years ago about Lauder’s account of John’s death and the effectiveness with which it conveyed the personal tragedy. Be interested to see it for myself.

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