- Contributed by
- Glenn Miller Festival 2004
- People in story:
- Joan Joyce (nee Coleman)
- Location of story:
- North London
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 08 September 2004
I was three when war broke out and already a tap/dancer/singer. My parents put me into an entertainment group and from that I went around singing and dancing for troops/Home Guard and factories for Workers Playtime. I have many newspaper cuttings and the most famous people I appeared with were Jack Warner (Dixon of Dock Green), Stepan Grappelli and Bennett and Williams.
I remember my Father carrying me home late at night after a show with shrapnel raining down on the pavement. Once when the ‘old’ Princess Royal was in the audience her chauffeur driven car arrived to collect me and my parents for the show because there was no transport available. My Father said, “The driver was Colonel Tom Parkes, the King’s Equerry.”
We stayed in the house during the frequent raids and listening to the drone of many aircraft overhead. Then there were the buzz-bombs. Terrifying when the engine cut out and you waited to find out whether you would live or die. The relief when the explosion came was intense.
At school we were herded into a corridor with no windows when the siren went. We had to wear a padded hat, mine was tea cosy with ribbons, a concoction my mother made.
The other thing I remember was entertaining at a dance hall crowded with Service Men and Women and suddenly my sailor uncle who we hadn’t seen for a very long time came flying out of the audience. We were so happy to see him, he had been involved in the Bismarck campaign sailing on the King George V. He had many friends on HMS Hood and watched in horror as it sank. I had another uncle who was a Chindit and was left in the jungle as what they called ‘the forgotten Army’. He saw horrendous things that he wouldn’t talk about until the end of his life. He terrible nightmares and would scream out in the night. He was plagued with malaria and was always very nervy — a lovely man who had his life scarred.
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