‘I Killed the Count’ by The Palladium Theatre & The Eighteenth Divsional Players, Changi P.O.W Camp (April 1943)

I Killed the Count

Note: Setting by Ronald SearleR. Horner is listed as one of the actors. To view caricatures of  R. Horner go to ‘Caricatures & Portraits’ on this website.

Singapore Diary: The Hidden Journal of Captain R.M. Horner:

‘Called up in 1940, young Ronnie Horner disembarked in Singapore in January 1942 with the rank of captain. After three weeks of desperate fighting the colony fell and he found himself labouring on the infamous Burmese railway, subsequently returning to Singapore’s Sime Road and Changi gaol. A talented and resourceful young man, Ronnie kept a diary which he concealed in a secret compartment of his valise and this fascinating document has now been transcribed for publication. Like the inmates of so many camps, the POWs kept their spirits up with performances of amateur dramatics, several of them directed by Ronnie. His first production was I Killed the Count, taking his mind off the executions of men who tried to escape. Scenery was provided by the Royal Engineers under the direction of “a sapper called Searle. The cartoonist Ronald Searle designed many of the stage productions illustrated here and also drew cartoons of POW life, producing birthday and Christmas cards for his fellow internees. With hindsight, one might almost say Two Ronnies were the inspiration behind smash-hit shows such as Cinderella and the Magic Soya Bean. Diphtheria, malaria, cholera and dysentery take their toll and Ronnie H. is worried about his decreasing weight. A pet chameleon called Oscar provides a distraction, food parcels and letters from home are eagerly awaited and the fragrance of Camel cigarettes is enjoyed like a perfume. 222pp, softback, numerous colour illustrations.’

Source: http://www.bibliophilebooks.com/SINGAPORE-DIARY-The-Hidden-Journal-of-Captain-R-M-Horner

‘As I sit on my bed a symphony and choral concert in the Palladium, one of the camp theatres, is playing to an audience of five hundred. An orchestra of 25 players has just played a Schumann concerto, and now a male voice choir is singing ‘Comrades in Arms’. Here has been produced an orchestra whose talent is first rate, and who somehow are able to overcome the poor quality of some of the instruments. I have mentioned the plays that have been staged, we have seen too, Sheriff’s ‘Badger’s Green’, ‘I Killed the Count’, ‘Loyalties’. These and others have been played by men who are professional actors, and produced by men of  West End experience.’

Source: Down To Bedrock (the diary & secret notes of a Far East prisoner of war Chaplain) by Eric Cordingly, Pg 111; permission by Louis Reynolds, daughter.