Clark Gable's local connection

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Thread Topic: Clark Gable's local connection
Topic Originator: Mike Laughton
Post Date June 8, 2011 @ 9:10 AM
 Clark Gable's local connection
 Clark Gable's local connection/Polebrook
 Clark Gable/saw him!
  Clark Gable's local connection

Mike Laughton
June 8, 2011 @ 9:10 AM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

During the Second World War the famous film star Clark Gable was based locally and many Stamford people got to meet him.
Clark Gable was a rear gunner in the US Army Air Force stationed at Polebrook near Oundle. But he actually lived in Barnack where other US Army officers were also billeted. (I believe it was Walcott House).
After he starred in Gone With the Wind his wife Carole Lombard was killed in a plane crash. When the war started he was one of the first Hollywood film stars to join up. It is believed he joined the Air Force because he was devastated by the loss of his great love and had a death wish. The story goes that he believed if he got killed in an aeroplane like his wife they would be reunited in death.
He flew on five bombing raids from Polebrook but after that the authorities decided he was too valuable an asset to the USAAF and they grounded him and sent him on publicity and promotional tours.
After the war Polebrook air base reverted back to farmland but it has the most wonderful memorial at the end of the runway. It is well worth a visit if you are in the area.
Kate:  What a great posting Mike.  I had no idea that Clark Gable ever spent any time in this area.  Remember seeing Gary Cooper at RAF North Luffenham  
once. He looked great, better than on screen.

Dave Leishman
June 9, 2011 @ 4:24 PM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

Re Polebrook.
For those who have not seen this ww2 video on Youtube. Copy and paste the link. Wonderful stuff.

June 9, 2011 @ 8:42 PM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

I was there!
Coming along St.Mary`s Street one evening in 1943 I saw a group of US Air Force Officers standing outside the Old Theatre which they used as a meeting place. Amongst them was Clark Gable, holding his hat in his hand, instantly recognisable with his trademark moustache. James Stewart was also stationed locally for a while possibly at Kings Cliffe or Spanhoe. The Officers lived at Walcot Hall.
It is difficult now to imagine Stamford in 1943/44 with scores of American airmen in the town at weekends.

February 27, 2012 @ 7:01 PM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

Looking through a book in the Library (Airfields of the 8th Airforce by Wilf Nicoll) I read under Polebrook Airfield (near Huntingdon) -
``During the summer of 1943 Clark Gable the film star, then a Major in the USAAF, was based at Polebrook with the 351st Squadron to produce a film based on air gunner training and recruitment. Major Gable`s first flight to gain operational experience was carried out from Molesworth on a mission to Antwerp. Two further flights followed (to Villacoublay on July 10th and Gelsenkirchen on August 12th), much of the air-to-air film being taken by Gable and an MGM cameraman who had enlisted with him at Los Angeles. On the next flight to the Ruhr the aircraft came under heavy attack and was hit fifteen times. The last flight by `The Little Hollywood Group` was to Nantes on September 23rd. Shortly afterwards, having accumulated more than 50,000 feet of 16mm film, Gable left Polebrook for the States where the film `Combat America` finally appeared in October 1944.