Flashback: Giant babies, a miracle bride and an RAF pilot’s reunion with his plane

Former RAF navigator Douglas Smallbone with a painting of his aircraft.

Former RAF navigator Douglas Smallbone with a painting of his aircraft. - Credit: Archant

A look back at the stories of the day, this week, 60, 40 and 20 years ago.

1956: Following on from last week’s battle of the giant baby boys, the Recorder turned its attention to the borough’s girls.

The largest baby girl in Redbridge was none other than Karen McMeakin, of Grove Road, Chadwell Heath, who weighed a staggering 28lbs at just nine months.

And the weight piled on despite Karen’s mother placing her on a strict diet of mainly bread and butter, which doctors advised was one of the easiest things for young babies to digest, although she did enjoy the occasional chocolate treat.

Karen had, in the nine months since her premature birth, outgrown 50 wool cardigans knitted by her mother.

1976: A self-confessed miracle bride was thrilled to make the trip down the aisle despite doctors telling her parents when she was born that she would not live past seven.

Born with an incurable arthritic disease and a hole in her heart, medical experts insisted that Barbara Rudd, of Mortlake Road, Seven Kings, would never make it to adulthood.

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But the brave girl refused to give in to her disabilities and in her teenage years even became a ballet dancer, winning a string of awards.

The 24-year-old also managed to overcome partial paralysis in her arms to become a shorthand typist at Plessey’s before meeting future husband John Wearne.

“It was one of the proudest days of our lives,” said Wynn Rudd, Barbara’s mother.

“We always encouraged Barbara to do things for herself and she’s proved the doctors wrong.”

1996: A former RAF navigator from South Woodford was reunited with his aircraft after its crash site was finally discovered 52 years after it was shot down.

During the Second World War, Douglas Smallbone’s Halifax bomber was shot down over Europe.

He spent six days evading capture before he was eventually taken to the infamous Stalag Luft III camp.

A researcher managed to find two men in the German town of Papenburg, Germany, who remembered the crash and were able to pinpoint the plane’s whereabouts.