Douglas de la Harpe

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Douglas de la Harpe (3/10/1911 - 24/1/1963) amateur producer, composer and author from Graaff-Reinet.

He was born in Graaff-Reinet and lived on the family farm, "The Glen". He attended Union High School in Graaff-Reinet and St Andrew's in Grahamstown.

Douglas de la Harpe wrote and produced a musical romance while in hiding in the Italian Appenine mountains during the Second World War.

After being captured in Tobruk he was shipped off to an Italian Prisoner-of-War camp. When the Italians surrendered, he and a group of other prisoners from the Middleburg and Graaff-Reinet districts escaped and took to the mountains after their guards unlocked the camp gates and left them open. In the tense atmosphere of the threat of recapture by the Germans and of raids for food from nearby villages, De la Harpe wrote lyrics and music for a play. Eventually, when he was finished, he placed the manuscript in a bottle and buried it in a cave for safety, but he was then recaptured and sent to a German POW camp in Bavaria, Germany. The bottle with the manuscript was never recovered but after the war, when he returned to Graaff-Reinet, he re-wrote the play and called it A Jack and a Jill. It was staged it in Graaff-Reinet to raise funds for the Red Cross in August 1947.


Saturday Post, July 12, 1947.

Information provided by his son, Lionel de la Harpe, July 7, 2021.

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