Remembering victims of a war movie tragedy
PUBLISHED: 12:01 31 August 2019 | UPDATED: 12:01 31 August 2019
A wartime Hollywood movie which claimed the lives of three men in over Norfolk while filming will herald the start of a new season of Sunday afternoon charity film shows at Wymondham. Derek James reports
There can be few better films to support the work of the US 389th Bomb Group Memorial Museum at Hethel than the 1941 flagwaver A Yank in the R.A.F.
The whole idea was to rally support for the British war effort. Heart-throb Tyrone Power starred as the American pilot, who travelled to England to join the RAF before America joined the conflict.
He was out to impress his ex-girlfriend, played by the legendary pin-up movie star Betty Grable.
Most of the filming took place in Hollywood but some authentic aerial combat scenes were shot over Norfolk...and it resulted in tragedy.
Famous movie maker Otto Kanturek and another cameraman, Jack Perry, were in an Avro Anson when one of the Hurricanes they were filming collided with their plane, which crashed at Cawston. Both men and their pilot were killed.
Otto's grave can be seen at the R.A.F. cemetery at Scottow.
The film will mark the start of a new run of classic Sunday cinema shows by members of the wonderful Regal Experience at the former Regal Cinema now the Ex-Services' Club at Wymondham - a town loved by the GI's when they did arrive to turn East Anglia into "Little America" and introducing a splash of colour into a black and white world.
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The group has helped so many charities and good causes since the films started several years ago now.
They get some great films. The supporting programme will include a short film called When War Came with evocative scenes of Norwich and Wymondham, accompanied by songs from stars of the day including George Formby - who also loved Norfolk where he spent many years.
And there will also be a display telling the story of the arrival of the young and often larger-than-life Americans.
The US 389th Bomb Group Memorial Museum, housed in the original base chapel and nearby Nissen huts, is packed full of fascinating memorabilia and artefacts relating to the group's time at Hethel between 1942 and 1945.
The displays, which include photographs documents, uniforms, decorations, personal mementoes and other exhibit, help to paint a poignant picture of life on the base when it was home to around 3,000 personal mementoes who few more than 300 missions deep over enemy territory.
Originally known as the Sky Scorpions, the group's logo became the Green Dragon named after the famous Wymondham inn...just one of the then many pubs the Yanks loved.
The GIs, not only from Hethel, but also from the US hospital at Morley, together with those from the bases at Deopham Green, Old Buckenham and Tibenham, were regulars in the town where they were very popular.
With thanks to Wymondham film historian, author and Regal Experience member Philip Yaxley.
The Regal Experience will be hosting the show at the Ex-Services Club, Wymondham, on Sunday September 15 at 2.30pm. Tickets cost £5, concessions £4, and are available from Simply Cards, Market Street, Wymondham or at the door. Enquiries can also be made to Michael Armstrong on 01953 603246.
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