PRIVATE JOHN NEWLANDS
25TH SEPTEMBER 1918 AGE 24
BURIED: LIJSSENTHOEK MILITARY CEMETERY, BELGIUM
"Lochaber no more" is the title of a Gaelic air known as early as 1701. The poet Allan Ramsay composed words for it in 1724: a soldier's lament as he leaves his homeland and his girlfriend, perhaps for ever. The first verse reads:
Farewell to Lochaber! and farewell, my Jean,
Where heartsome with thee I hae mony days been;
For Lochaber no more, Lochaber no more,
We'll maybe return to Lochaber no more!
These tears that I shed they a' for my dear,
And no for the dangers attending on wear,
Though borne on rough seas to a far bloody shore,
Maybe to return to Lochaber no more.
Lochaber is a region of the Western Highlands. The main town, Fort William, is where John Newlands was born. The family later moved to Glasgow where Newlands enlisted. He died of wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station at Lijssenthoek in Belgium.
Postscript 9 September 2018
The poet Neil Munro (1863-1930) wrote another version of Lochaber No More, which would appear to be more relevant to the First World War dead.
Each of the three verses ends with a different heartrending lament:
The trout will come back from the deeps of the sea,
The bird from the wilderness back to the tree,
Flowers to the mountain, and tides to the shore,
Bur he will return to Lochaber no more!
Brave songs will be singing in lands of the West,
But he will be silent who sang them the best;
The dance will be waiting, the pipes will implore,
but he will return to Lochaber no more!
The night falls disconsolate, bringing no peace,
No hopes for our dreams, for our sighs no release;
In vain when the Spring comes we look from the door,
For he will return to Lochaber no more!