Mid Wales

First night for Newtown play penned in WWII PoW camp

Reg Newman in 1941 during World War II
Image caption Reg Newman wrote the play while in captivity during World War II

A play written by a soldier serving in a Japanese prisoner of war (PoW) camp more than 60 years ago is to finally have its first night.

The One Mistake, by Reg Newman, will help mark the 75th anniversary of Newtown Amateur Dramatic Society.

Mr Newman, who died in 1972, wrote the play during World War II while in captivity in Borneo.

The play, set in a fictional south Wales village, is about a family which believes it has won the football pools.

Mr Newman, who was born in Cardiff, was an officer commanding an anti-aircraft battery when he was captured after the fall of Singapore in 1942.

He was taken to Kuching Camp in Borneo where, aged in his early 20s and living in "horrendous conditions", he penned The One Mistake, said his daughter Jan Fursier.

The play is about a family living in the fictional mining village of Felinfach, close to Cardiff.

The play's three acts deal with a family which believes it has won the football pools.

It is being performed by Newtown Amateur Dramatic Society, which Mr Newman chaired from 1964, to help mark its 75th anniversary.

Mrs Fursier, who is following in her father's footsteps as chair of the society, will introduce the play on its first night on Wednesday. It will be shown throughout the rest of the week.

She said: "I imagine he wrote the play to try and occupy his mind because that's the sort of person he was.

"I was aware of the existence of the play amongst my father's wartime papers, but had only begun deciphering it a few years ago.

"It was whilst in Kuching in those conditions that Dad wrote the play we are presenting this week.

"Although I am virtually certain it was never performed, we are presenting it this week in a format that might have been possible in the PoW camp, using very basic materials for the set."

Mrs Fursier said her father was liberated in August 1945, returning to the UK in the October of that year.

He settled in Newtown with his family in 1958, and became a member of the amateur dramatic society.

Mr Newman died in 1972, aged 53, from a heart attack.

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