PRIVATE NORMAN MCDONALD
14TH SEPTEMBER 1915 AGE 23
BURIED: GREEN HILL CEMETERY, GALLIPOLI, TURKEY
Norman McDonald's inscription was chosen by his father, Alexander McDonald, who lived in Portree on the Isle of Skye. It is written in Scottish Gaelic and is a quotation from the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy Chapter 29 verse 29:
"The things that are secret belong to the Lord our God."
Gaelic is not really a written language and the version of the quotation I found was spelt:
Buinidh na nithe diomhair do n' Tighearn ar Dia.
And what does it mean? One needs to see the context. Moses tells his people of the covenant with God, and of what will happen to them if they fail to keep it: the anger of the Lord will be kindled against them destroying their land and bringing sickness among them.
"The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law."
I think Mr Alexander McDonald believed that the war was God's punishment for nations not keeping the word of His commandments:
"And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass growth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zebolm, which the Lord overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath."
The words of Deuteronomy, describing the punishment God will visit on his disobedient people, seem to describe very well to the devastated landscapes of the First World War battlefields, especially the wasteland of the Western Front.