Captain John Lauder, the only son of the great entertainer Sir Harry Lauder, was killed in action on the 28th of December 1916 during operations on the Somme following the Battle of the Ancre.
The football connection? Birmingham City fans adopted the song “Keep Right On To The End of the Road” which Sir Harry wrote in memory of John - City player Alex Govan introduced the song to player’s get-togethers as his party piece and it spread from there out to the supporters. It has become City’s anthem.
During the Great War Sir Harry travelled extensively fund-raising for the welfare of wounded soldiers, he would raise over a million pounds (over 60million at today’s prices) and be knighted for his war services in 1919.
Earlier this year I was in Strachur delivering a lecture when my host took me on a detour to Glenbranter to visit the memorial erected to Captain Lauder by his father - it’s across the road from a Forestry Commission visitors centre which occupies the site of “Laudervale”, Sir Harry’s home.
We arrived when it was getting dark and there was a smir of rain - the memorial is marked by a small sign opposite the lay-by on the main road just by Glenbranter. The steps up were wooden and wet, the area around the memorial a little overgrown. At the memorial someone had left a nobbled walking stick - Sir Harry’s trademark.
Inside the little enclosure there’s a fine memorial stone and bronze relief of Captain Lauder and some family graves, although not Sir Harry’s.
I understand, though I have not seen, that there was an article recently in the Dunoon Observer retelling the story of the memorial and that plans were underway to renovate it and access to it.
If you are ever passing by Strachur - please take time to visit it.
At the time of his death John was engaged to be married to Mildred Thomson. She died unmarried at the age of 83 in 1975. She left the residue of her estate to Erskine Hospital for disabled ex-servicemen ``to provide some amenity for the hospital in memory of my late fiancé . . . ‘'
Keep right on to the end of the road,
Keep right on to the end,
Tho' the way be long, let your heart be strong,
Keep right on round the bend.
Tho' you're tired and weary still journey on,
Till you come to your happy abode,
Where all the love you've been dreaming of
Will be there at the end of the road.