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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Robinson Crusoe

by cambsaction

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People in story: 
Patricia Gladestone Nee Penfold
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Contributed on: 
10 May 2005

Story told to Story gatherer at Imperial War Museum Duxford VE event.

This is the story of when I was aged 13 in 1945.

I was performing in the pantomime Robinson Crusoe at the Ilford Hippodrome (which is now the Kenneth Moore Theatre) with Rene Huston and I was one of the flying ballet dancers.

I went up to the top of the theatre to change into my harness to get ready to do my flying routine. As I was putting the harness on a V2 rocket hit the back of the theatre and I fell from the top of the building to the bottom, through all the floors, hanging from my ankles until the rescue people came to get me. I was under all this debris but I was conscious all the time. I had very bad injuries and nearly lost my left leg.

It was a full house on the day of the panto when it was hit. Sadly there was 1 death and lots of injuries. All the houses at the back of the theatre were demolished as well and several other people died. The day after the bomb the theatre collapsed but it was rebuilt, becoming the Kenneth Moore Theatre.

I was taken to hospital and stayed there for 3 weeks as I had to have an operation on my leg. One day Rene Huston and Donald Stewart sent their car for me and my friend Vera who was also injured. We were taken to their home in Borne End to convalesce. We stayed there for between 2 and 3 weeks.

Considering my injuries I luckily was able to dance again. And up until 15 years ago glass was still coming out of my leg.

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