Clark Gable 8th USAAF 1943
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Uploaded on May 25, 2008
During much of 1943, Major Clark Gable was stationed at Polebrook to produce a recruiting film for aircraft gunners. While there, he flew five combat missions as an observer. Much of the film was shot by MGM cinematographer Andrew McIntyre, who not only accompanied Gable, but who also enlisted with him in the USAAF.
Gable's first combat mission occurred on 4 May 43 flying with Capt W.R. Calhoun from the 303rd Bomb Group at Molesworth in the lead aircraft nicknamed 'Eight Ball II' #41-24635 and targeting Antwerp, Belgium. His second mission was on 15 Jun 43 flying with Lt. Theodore. Argiropulos from the 351st Bomb Group at Polebrook in the aircraft 'Argonaut III' #42-29851 and targeting Villacoublay, France. His third combat mission occurred on July 24, 1943 flying with Lt.Col . Robert W. Burns from the 351st Bomb Group at Polebrook in 'Argonaut III' #2-29851 and bombing Heroya, Norway. His fourth combat mission occurred 12 Aug 43 flying with Capt John B. Carraway from the 351st Bomb Group in the aircraft 'Aint It Gruesome' #42-29863 and hitting the secondary target of Bochum, Germany. Gable had somehow wedged himself in behind the top turret gunner for a better view as fighters made five passes, killing one man, wounding seven others, and damaging eleven 351st Bomb Group planes. At one point a 20-mm shell came through Aint It Gruesome's floor, cut off the heel from Gable's boot, and exited one foot from his head, all without exploding. Afterward, the crew noticed the fifteen holes in the aircraft, and Gable noticed his boot. Brushing off concern with reporters, Gable claimed, "I didn't know it had happened. I didn't know anything about it until we had dropped eleven thousand feet (and could get off oxygen and look around). Only then did I see the hole in the turret." Gable's fifth and last combat mission occurred on 23 Sept 43, targeting Nantes, France with Maj John Blaylock as pilot flying 'The Dutchess' #42-29925.
Clark Gable was awarded the Air Medal on October 4, 1943 for completing five combat missions and left the 351st BG on November 5, 1943 returning to the US with over 50,000 ft of 16mm film. In 1944, the film 'Combat America' was shown in theaters.
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