Derek Oldham, who died on 20th March 1968, was principal tenor with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company from 1919 to 1922 and between 1929 and 1937. He was an inveterate attender of D'Oyly Carte first nights and special occasions, and in 1962 he compered the informal stage concert on the last night of the season at the Savoy Theatre.
He was a fine artist and a much-loved man. The newspapers gave his age as seventy-five, but he was in fact over eighty, though no one who spent an hour in his company could possibly believe it; his liveliness, his clarity of mind, and his excellent memory befitted a man twenty years younger.
He was a very happy person, and his happiness was infectious. He always seemed to be surrounded by an aura of happiness that immediately affected all his many friends in all parts of the world. In his presence one instinctively became aware of his kind disposition, and this kindness of his was proved time and time again by many who were in need of help and sympathy; sorrow and gloom seemed to vanish in his company.
As a musician he was superb. His knowledge of his art was remarkable and was not confined to singing alone but embraced the whole wide range of music in all its forms. This was exemplified in his library of recordings, tapes, and scores of all kinds. He was one of those fast-disappearing dilettanti who regularly attend the first night in the theatre He expected perfection, but was always a kind perfectionist.
During the First World War, when the war on the Balkan Front was almost stalemate and the spirit of the troops was rather low, he did excellent work in boosting the morale of the troops on the Salonika Front. He was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Machine Gun Corps, and was posted to the 12th Army Corps Headquarters. With the Corps Commander's approval Lieut.
Derek Oldham was given the task of forming a Concert Party, that troops when relieved from the front line duty could be entertained during their rest period behind the lines. With the co-operation of picked amateur entertainers - all Service men - he was able to form the Yellow Perils Concert Party, and produced many musical shows. As operations began to liven up, he was drafted to the 22nd Division, and before very long he had succeeded in producing "The Chocolate Soldier" within gun range of the enemy.
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