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The Detective Man
December 23: V.A.D. Hospital, Mortimer, Berkshire, England



SOLDIERS’ ENTERTAINMENT. – On Thursday last week a large company gathered at the V.A.D. Hospital, where an excellent concert had been arranged in order to bid farewell to some of the patients. The platform had been tastefully arranged, and thanks are due to the staff and also to friends, who rendered valuable aid.

The chair was taken by the Commandant, Miss F. M. Wyld, and Nurse Holland and Sergeant Lax provided the instrumental music. The entertainment was opened by Private Harthshorn, who gave “They sang ‘God Save the King.’” Private Walsh contributed “I wonder who is kissing her now?” which was well received; as was Lance-Corporal Peake’s song “Come, sing to me.”

Private Steadleman as “Henry the VIII” was most effective in his description of being married to a widow who had shown her preference for Henrys by marrying seven of them before. Lance-Corporal Keary sang of “Kitty, the Telephone Girl.” Miss Digby’s fine rendering of “Tatters” and “Husheen” provided a pleasing variety. Mr Webb was most amusing as he mimicked the “Gay Drum Major.”

Next in order came Lance-Corporal Mister, who as “Silk Hat Tony” caused roars of laughter. As an encore he gave “Some Baby Doll.” Sergeant Lax’s violin solo was very popular; later his rendering of Gounod’s Serenade in B flat (by special request) gained an inevitable encore. Nurse Holland, in her most attractive song, “laddie in Khaki,” described the suspense of waiting.

After the interval the proceedings reopened with a humorous sketch entitled “The Detective Man,” in which the characters were as follows:- Hairlock Combs, Private Steadleman; Flashington Fobbs, Private McGrath; Jeremiah Gurkin, Private Whitehead; Clarissa Bung, Private Peary; Jenkins, waiter, Lance-Corporal Mister; Benjamin Bung, Bombardier Cross.

Hairlock Combs, in the course of his detective duties, met two whom he strongly suspected as being escaped criminals. Later, these two having heard that the proprietor of a boarding house and his wife were going on holiday, impersonated them and proceeded to instruct the waiter in his duties, hoping that in this way their disguise would throw Combs off the scent.

In this they were not successful, for Combs applied for board and lodging. The interlude whistling solo by the waiter was very effective. All being safe for the night, Flashington and Jeremiah proceeded to rob the safe, when Combs descended from his room and apprehended them.

Drummer Leech gave a humorous song “Pushed in the parlour.” “Sweet and Low,” sung in harmony by Nurse Gould and Nurse Mitchell, Lance-Corporal Peake and Drummer Leach, was a splendid item. Private Steadleman was again popular in “Just a Soldier.” “Stammering Sam,” by Private Hill was one of the best items. Bombardier Cross sang “Thora.” Another pretty song was that of Private Walsh, “Water Melon Vine.”

Lance-Corporal Keary, as an Irish Fusilier in “Are we Downhearted?” invited the customary “No!” and Mr Webb gave “Our boys.” “Heyho! Can’t you hear the steamer?” was another opportunity for Lance-Corporal Mister. Drummer Leach’s concertina solo was much applauded.

Before the conclusion the Commandant conveyed the wish of the audience that “Godspeed and good luck” would be with those soldiers who were about to take their departure; and “Auld Lang Syne” and “God Save the King” terminated a most enjoyable evening.

Reading Mercury, Saturday 25 December 1915
found at www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk