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Obituary in "The Daily Mail" April 22 1947

He gave the army Mademoiselle

Composer dies in institute

By Daily Mail Reporter

The man who wrote "Mademoiselle from Armentieres" and 2,000 other songs is dead.

He spent 50 years in Tin Pan Alley, pouring out successes.

His songs made hits for stars and themes for the millions.

But Harry Wincott, 80 years old, died poor.

He died in a Yeovil Public Assistance Institution because no bed was available at the hospital.

When he began writing songs he was just a boy, one of his first customers was Charlie Chaplin father of the famous Charlie.



Success followed. And when he sold "The Old Dun Cow Caught Fire" for a guinea he thought he was rich.

"In those days," he said, "artists used to buy my songs outright at a guinea a time and I was kept busy day and night."

Anything gave him ideas- even his own misfortunes. One day he went home to find most of the furniture gone.

So he sat down and wrote "The Broker's Man."

When World War I. broke out and he walked into a recruiting office they told him to go away and write songs for the troops.

That's how "Mademoiselle from Armentieres" was born. The British Army made a hit of it.



In his heyday Harry wrote songs for Marie Lloyd, Billie Merson, Florrie Ford, George Formby, and Charles Austin.

He knew the "notabilities." He used to like telling about the smoking concert in London where some of them "kidded" him to greet a certain gentleman as "Daddy."

The gentleman was King Edward VII. then Prince of Wales.

As he got older the song-writing business changed and the demand for Harry's stuff dropped.

He struggled on for a time - he could go and sit on the Embankment and still hear his songs whistled and hummed - but it was no use.

Fate struck other blows. His daughter died from burns. Within a few weeks his wife was dead too. His home was broken up.

They arranged a benefit concert to give old Harry Wincott a bit of help.

He went to Yeovil, with his second wife, in 1941 - appeared at a Victory concert there in 1945.

He was taken ill last February.

Wincott was a pen name : his real name was Alfred James Walden.


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