A Minstrel in France


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Published on
Dec 31, 1918
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People wrote to me, men and women, who, like me, had lost their sons. Their letters brought the tears to my eyes anew. They were tender letters, and beautiful letters, most of them, and letters to make proud and glad, as well as sad, the heart of the man to whom they were written.... "Don't desert us now, Harry!" It was so that they put it, one after another, in those letters. "Ah, Harry-there is so much woe and grief and pain in the world that you, who can, must do all that is in your power to make them easier to bear!... Come back to us, Harry-make us laugh again!" -from Chapter IX Scottish vaudevillian SIR HARRY LAUDER was one of the most popular entertainers in the world before World War I, touring the globe numerous times to great acclaim. But he almost left the stage for good after his only child, Captain John Lauder, was killed in action in France just after Christmas 1916... until his wife, Nance, and his fans reminded him that his power to bring joy and laughter to the world was too important to be abandoned. Here, in this stirring 1918 book, Lauder (1870-1950) relates how he transformed sorrow to action, honoring his son's last words -"Carry on!"- by becoming the first performer to entertain troops in the battlefields, a dangerous mission (he regularly came under fire) he carried out in both world wars. Knighted in 1919 for his service to the British Empire, Lauder is an inspiration to this day, and this is a remarkable tale of a father's grief and a legacy that continues to affect soldiers and their families today.
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