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Captain Clark Gable and the crew of B17F "Duchess" after completing his 5th and final mission over Nantes, France September 23rd 1943 for which he was awarded the Air Medal. 351st Bomb Group RAF Polebrook.

Printed caption on reverse of very similar photo: 'DS pictured standing in front of the Flying Fortress "Duchess" after the successful US 8th Air Force (ETO) raid on Nantes (France) the morning of September 23rd are back row, L to R:
Lt James O Bradley, Cincinatti, Ohio,
Captain John Carraway, Raleigh, NC,
Major J R Blaycock, Council Bluff, Iowa,
Captain Clark Gable, Hollywood, Cal,
Lt Col. Robert W Burns, Ecru, Miss,
Lt David Palmer, Seattle,
Staff Sergeant Stephen Schmitt, 6617 North Ashen Ave, Chicago, Ill.

Front Row: L to R:
Staff Sergeant William J Mile, 836 East 83rd Street, NYC,
Master Sergeant Fletcher Cupp, Carthage, MO,
Staff Sergeant Frank Dillinbeck, 9502 East Broadway, Spokane,
Technical Sergeant Clyde L Eisenhart, York PA.

Above formed members of the crew of "Duchess" aboard which Gable has just completed his fifth mission and thereby earned the Air Medal DS/CAS.'

Caption edited to reflect correct rank for Robert Burns at the time of the Nantes mission.



  • 351st Bomb Group

    351st Bomb Group

    The 351st Bomb Group flew strategic bombing missions from their base at Polebrook, Northamptonshire from April 1943 to June 1945. The Group's most famous member was Hollywood actor Clark Gable, who flew four/ five missions with them as an observer...


  • John Blaylock

    Military | Major | Pilot
    John Blaylock graduated from the University of Iowa in June, 1941 and shortly thereafter enlisted in the Air Corps as an Aviation Cadet. After training as a Pilot, he received his wings and was sent overseas. He arrived in England in April, 1943, where...

  • James Bradley

    Military | Captain

  • Robert Burns

    Military | Major General | Group Air Executive
    Pilot. Assigned to 351BG, 8AF USAAF. 25 x missions. Awards: SS, DFC (OLC)/ AM (3OLC), WWII Victory, EAME (2 x battle stars), American Campaign Medal, DUC.

  • John Carraway

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel

  • Fletcher Cupp

    Military | First Lieutenant

  • Clyde Eisenhart

    Military | Technical Sergeant

  • Clark (William Gable

    Military | Major | Cameraman, Gunner, Actor
    Clark Gable flew at least 5 missions as Captain filming 50,000 ft of gunnery combat during 1943. He received the Air Medal for his service. 1 mission was flown with the 303rd BG. The rest were with the 351st BG in different aircraft. The film was named...

  • William Mile

    Military | Staff Sergeant

  • David Palmer

    Military | Captain | Pilot
    Assigned to 510BS, 351BG, 8AF USAAF. 25 x combat missions. ETD Awards: DFC, AM (3OLC), WWII Victory, EAME (2 x Battle Stars).

  • Stephen Schmidt

    Military | Staff Sergeant


  • 42-29925 'The Duchess'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 17/3/43; Pueblo 28/3/43; Presque Is 9/4/43; Assigned 510BS/351BG [TU-L] Polebrook 17/4/43; 39m 2 BAD Warton 5/4/44; Returned to the USA Tinker 7/6/44; Hendricks 9/8/44; Rapid City 12/9/44; Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for...


  • Polebrook

    Military site : airfield
    Polebrook was laid down for RAF Bomber Command use in 1940-1941. Built by George Wimpey and Co. Ltd, it had short runways which were lengthened for USAAF heavy bomber use. The RAF used the base for operational trials - including of B-17 Flying...


Date Contributor Update
07 December 2021 17:14:22 Douglas P Changes to caption

Caption edited to reflect correct rank for Robert Burns at the time of the Nantes mission. AAF had it wrong on the caption in NARA.

Date Contributor Update
28 February 2020 22:55:45 Paul Findon Changes to collection

Original press release. DS/CAS

Date Contributor Update
24 November 2016 11:41:36 Lucy May Changes to caption and person associations

Date Contributor Update
07 March 2016 18:51:17 Paul Findon Created entry with caption, unit associations, person associations and place associations

Press release photograph taken at the time of the mission 09/23/43