Hollywood legend's army papers revealed

HE was one of the Hollywood's top actors who had played his part in the war effort - and the person signing his military discharge papers would go on to become president of the United States.

HE was one of the Hollywood's top actors who had played his part in the war effort - and the person signing his military discharge papers would go on to become president of the United States.

Now the extraordinary document marking the moment Clark Gable left the US Army Air Forces has ended up in a Suffolk museum.

The celebrity memorabilia is to go on show at Parham Airfield Museum, and there is considerable excitement at the coup.

Not only do the papers outline Gable's military career, but the officer who officially signed the star's discharge from the 351st Bomb Group was none other than actor and former American president Ronald Reagan.

Gone with the Wind star Gable was one of Hollywood's top stars when the Second World War broke out - his civilian profession was referred to as a “motion picture actor” in the document.

Although at 41 he was well beyond the draft age, Gable enlisted in the US armed forces on August 12, 1942.

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Clark Gable trained with and accompanied the 351st Heavy Bomb Group as head of a six-man motion picture unit making a gunnery training film. The military occupation listed on his discharge papers is “military picture photo-gunner”.

While stationed in England, Gable flew five combat missions, including one to Germany, as an observer-gunner in B-17 Flying Fortresses between May 4 and September 23 , 1943 - earning the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts. He left the Air Force with the rank of major.

Mick Tipple, Parham Airfield Museum's chairman, said: “We only took possession of the documents and some other items on Monday. It is a great piece of history and it is fantastic to have something like this at the museum especially as it includes both Clark Gable and Ronald Reagan.”

Mr Tipple explained that the museum had come by the memorabilia through Sally Vincent, the UK coordinator of GI Trace, which helps people in England and Germany trace their American GI fathers or family.

It discovered the papers and chose to pass them on to the Suffolk museum.

But visitors will have to wait until it reopens in March next year to view this interesting and exciting piece of Second World War military history.

Parham Airfield Museum was created in 1976 as a tribute to the endeavours of the 390th Bomb Group, Eighth US Army Air Force and other Allied airmen operating from bases throughout East Anglia.

It comprises the 390th Bombardment Group Memorial Air Museum and the Museum of the British Resistance Organisation, and its continued existence relies on volunteer support and donations.

Anyone wishing to get involved or find out more about the museum should contact Mr Tipple on 01394 270203 or visit the museum between March and October.