Miller: Music in the Miller Mood - by George Spink
Serenade" and "I Know Why"
Glenn Miller and His Orchestra
with Pat Friday, John Payne, and The Modernaires
from Sun Valley Serenade (1941)
here to listen to Glenn Miller broadcasts and tributes
while you visit this web page.
a recent video featuring Jan Eberle with The Jack Million
Band performing The White Cliffs of Dover, a song
made famous in the United States by Jan's father, Ray Eberle,
with Glenn Miller and his Orchestra. This video was made
in May 2008 at the Netherlands
American Cemetery in the village of Margraten, six miles
east of Maastricht.
friends of mine from Chicago, Chuck Schaeden and Karl
Pearson, hosted a terrific tribute to Glenn Miller on
Saturday, May 23rd, from 1 to 5 p.m. CDT on Chuck's
show, Those Were the Days, on WDCB-FM, at the
College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.
their kind permission, we offer their show here for
your listening enjoyment.
is a four-hour program, so allow a few seconds for it
Spink - Webmaster - Tuxedo Junction
in the Miller Mood Yahoo! Group
those of you who are big fans of Glenn Miller and his music,
I encourage you to join our new Music
in the Miller Mood Yahoo! Group. Just click the "Join
This Group" button after you arrive on that web page.
It's that easy!
Group is dedicated to the marvelous music of Glenn Miller as
performed by his civilian band between 1939 and 1942 and by
his Armed Forces Band between 1943 and 1945; to Glenn Miller's
successor bands; and to the other bands who have emulated Miller's
wonderful style over the years.
a member of our Music
in the Miller Mood Yahoo! Group, you'll be able to publish
your own posts about Glenn Miller and his music and to upload
and download photos and song files. I already have uploaded
about 20 photos and as many MP3 files of Music in the Miller
Mood. And, I have posted a number of links pertaining to Miller
music on the Links Page.
Yahoo! Groups limits the number of song files that can be uploaded
to it.To keep our Music
in the Miller Mood Yahoo! Group fresh, I will delete and
add new song files frequently. To keep all of our song files
online, I am creating Music in the Miller Mood Juke Box Pages
you can enjoy even after the songs are removed from our Yahoo!
Group. You will find them on these web pages:
be adding more in the weeks and months ahead.
article is based on a series that I wrote for the Show
section of The Chicago Sun-Times. The series ran over
a four-day period spanning Christmas 1984, commemorating the
40th anniversary of Glenn Miller's tragic disappearance.
New paragraphs were added to this web page in December 2000
to inform visitors about music in the Miller mood as we entered
the 21st Century. Playlists and videos were added in May 2008.
Glenn Miller, director of the U.S. Air Force Band, is missing
on a flight from England to Paris. No trace of the plane
has been found. -- The New York Times, Dec. 25, 1944.
message spread across the nation like a shockwave on Christmas
1944. Newspapers ran the wire story just as it appears here,
and radio announcers read it in disbelief to their stunned
listeners. Tens of thousands of American families already
had learned that a loved one was killed or missing in the
war. Now the family of Glenn Miller learned their tragic
news; now the world knew it as well.
was little chance that the small plane carrying Miller would
be found. It disappeared ten
days earlier in heavy fog and rain over the English Channel,
on the eve of the Battle of the Bulge. Miller was en route
to Paris in advance of his large orchestra of the Allied
Expeditionary Forces (AEF) to make final plans for a Christmas
Day concert for Allied troops.
concert was scheduled to be--and was--the first in a series
of appearances by Miller's immensely popular "Band
of the AEF" on the Continent. Since the orchestra's
arrival in England shortly after D-Day, Miller and his men
had been playing a grueling schedule of concerts, dances,
and radio broadcasts--"bringing a touch of home to
our fighting lads," as Miller put it.
atrocious weather already had delayed Miller for two days.
Anxious to make the crossing, he accepted an offer to make
the trip on Dec.15 with Col. Norman Baesell, who was going
to Paris on that day no matter what. Baesell had to conduct
essential war business; namely, he had to refill empty champagne
bottles for the holidays.
to Miller's biographer and friend, George T. Simon,
when Miller boarded the small plane, the band leader asked
Baesell where the parachutes were.
the matter, Miller?" Baesell asked. "Do you want
to live forever?"
Alton Glenn Miller was only 40 years old when he disappeared.
The Iowa-born band leader left behind his wife, Helen, and
their two small children--a son, Stevie, adopted in 1942,
and a daughter, Jonnie (whom Miller never had a chance to
see), adopted in late 1944. Both were adopted from the Cradle
Society in Evanston, Illinois. Helen died in 1966; the children,
who have no personal recollection of their father, have
pursued lives outside of music.
also left behind a legacy in the world of popular music
that seldom has been equaled. To put his role in that world
into perspective, especially for members of later generations,
it is not an overstatement to say that no musical group
captured the public's attention as much as Glenn Miller's
orchestra until the Beatles came along in 1964.
only a few years before his disappearance, Miller was barely
known, except by fellow musicians, who regarded him as a
gifted arranger and a competent trombonist.
Swing Era, launched by Benny Goodman in 1935, created a
powerful demand among ballroom, nightclub and theater owners
for orchestras. Glenn Miller formed his first orchestra
in 1937 and played a number of engagements in various parts
of the country throughout the year. But Miller's first
band had no distinctive style of its own and simply didn't
1976, Benny Goodman told me how despondent Miller had become
by the end of 1937. Their friendship began in the late 1920s,
when they played in Ben Pollack's band and shared an
apartment in New York City.
was never a great trombonist," Goodman said, "and
for the life of me I never understood why or how he was
going to lead his own band. In late 1937, before his band
became popular, we were both playing in Dallas. Glenn was
pretty dejected and came to see me. He asked, 'What
do you do? How do you make it?' I said, 'I don't
know, Glenn. You just stay with it.'"
did "stay with it," forming an entirely new orchestra
in 1938. This was the band that eventually would challenge
Goodman's in popularity. This was the band that would
become synonymous with the Swing Era. This was the band
that featured the unique "Miller sound."
Miller and his new orchestra soared to nationwide popularity
in the summer of 1939 during their lengthy engagement at
the Glen Island Casino in New Rochelle, New York, the premier
ballroom in the nation, thanks to its proximity to New York
City, to its popularity among Ivy League college students,
and especially to its live, nightly radio broadcasts heard
from coast to coast.
the next three years, Miller and his band made one
hit record after another. "The Miller sound" became
the sound of an era. By the time Miller disbanded his civilian
orchestra to enlist in the Army Air Force in September 1942,
one out of every three nickels dropped into a jukebox went
for one of his many hits. These included"In
the Mood," "Tuxedo Junction," Little Brown
Jug," "Moonlight Serenade(his theme),"
" Kalamazoo," "Chattanooga Choo Choo,"
"American Patrol," "At Last," "Serenade
in Blue," "Danny Boy," "Moonlight Cocktail,"
"Adios," "I Know Why," and dozens
how popular were Glenn Miller and his Orchestra? They recorded
70 Top Ten hits during their brief, three-and-one-half years
on the national music scene:
∑ 17 Top Ten Hits
∑ 31 Top Ten Hits
∑ 11 Top Ten Hits
∑ 11 Top Ten Hits
ARTIST Direct biography of Glenn Miller, written by
William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide.
was a phenomenal achievement in American popular music.
made Millerís music so incredibly popular was that it was
so listenable, so danceable and so easily identifiable.
key to the bandís immense success was "the Miller sound,"
an ingenious voicing of the reeds that Miller came upon
while playing and arranging for British-born Ray Nobleís
band in the mid-1930s. Miller scored the lead trumpet one
octave higher but in unison with the lead tenor saxophone,
then provided divided harmonies for the other saxophones.
Noble wasnít impressed with the sound, so Miller saved it
for himself, later substituting a clarinet for the trumpet
in 1949, another British-born musician, pianist
George Shearing, used a similar voicing technique for
piano and vibes with his quintet. Shearing told me
of his indebtedness to Miller when I
interviewed him in 1978 during a Cafe Carlisle engagement
in New York City.)
Miller and his Orchestra performed
at Pacific Square in San Diego on July 3, 1941.
band featured first-class musicians playing sophisticated
arrangements made by Miller and his two chief arrangers,
Bill Finegan and Jerry Gray. An admirer of fellow band leader
Jimmie Lunceford, Miller imitated Luncefordís ensemble precision,
using such eye-catching devices as the synchronized waving
of derbies and plunger mutes by members of the brass sections
as they created rhythmic "ooh-wah, ooh-wah" sounds
behind the reed lines.
he had been a highly successful musician and arranger in
New York City throughout the 1930s, Miller had no trouble
getting some of the best sidemen in the business to play
in his new band. The sidemen who performed in Miller's
band included saxophonists Tex Beneke, Hal McIntyre, Al
Klink, Ernie Caceras and Wilbur "Wee Willie" Schwartz
(also lead clarinetist); trombonists Paul Tanner, Jimmy
Priddy, Frank DíAnnolfo and Miller himself; trumpeters Ray
Anthony, Billy May, Johnny Best and Bobby Hackett; and drummer
Maurice "Mo" Purtill, bassist Trigger Alpert,
guitarist Jack Lathrop and pianist Chummy MacGregor.
featured vocalists were not exceptional by themselves, but
they blended together beautifully. Beneke usually was teamed
with Marion Hutton and the bandís vocal group, the Modernaires
(who were exceptional), on many of the bandís biggest hits.
Singer Ray Eberle was
"the young man in the romance department," as
Miller often introduced him, who recorded almost all of
the band's hit vocal ballads.
Millerís focus was always on the entire orchestra, not on
individual soloistsóan emphasis that permanently estranged
Miller from jazz purists and led jazz critics and musicians
to debunk his music, then and now. If nothing fails like
success, in their eyes Miller was the biggest failure of
the Swing Era. But Millerís musicians, particularly in his
Army Air Force (AAF) band or, as it later would be called
in England, "The Band of the Allied Expeditionary Forces,"
had as much room to improvise as musicians in other big
bands of the era. And even jazz purists concede that Miller's
AAF band could swing as well as any big band in the Swing
Miller's "Chesterfield Show" was broadcast
from coast to coast several nights a week.
few of Miller's civilian band arrangements were extended
for live performances and radio broadcasts, allowing ample
time for solos; but all of the bandís songs and solos were
severely limited by the three-to-four minute constraints
of 10-inch, 78 records. Nevertheless, one of the best improvisations
ever is Bobby Hackettís cornet solo on the civilian band's
recording of A String of Pearls. AAF band arrangements
generally were longer than those for Millerís civilian band
because they were designed for live performances and radio
broadcasts, not recordings, allowing soloists more latitude.
on top of the musical world was hectic. Fortunately, most
band members were in their early 20s and withstood the rigorous
schedule. Miller and his band gave hundreds of performances
at ballrooms, theaters, and nightclubs from coast to coast,
found time for several weekly radio broadcasts, and made
records, records, and more records.
magnificent ballads brought couples together at ballrooms,
jukebox hangouts or living room parties and linked them
while they were separated by oceans and war. The bandís
theme and most famous ballad, Moonlight Serenade,
was dubbed our nation's "second national anthem"
by Dave Garroway, who hosted the all-night 1160 Club
on WMAQ in Chicago during the 1940s. And, some of the band's
up-tempo numbers, such as In the Mood and A String
of Pearls, were battle cries for a generation of bobby
bandís popularity persuaded 20th Century-Fox to produce
two movies centering on Miller and his orchestra. Sun
Valley Serenade in 1941 featured Sonja Henie and Milton
Berle. A year later Orchestra Wives starred Ann Rutherford,
George Montgomery, Lynn Bari, Jackie Gleason, and Cesar
Romero. The real stars, of course, were Glenn Miller and
Harry Warren and Mack Gordon, one of the best song-writing
teams in Hollywood, wrote many of the songs for these two
films, including some of Miller's biggest hits: Kalamazoo,
Chattanooga Choo Choo, At Last, Serenade in Blue, I Know
Why,and Sun Valley Jump.
nation's entry into World War II occurred at the height
of Glenn Millerís popularity. Miller felt a deep, compelling
obligation to bring his music to the servicemen and women
fighting for their country. Only months before, they had
danced to his band at the Cafe Rouge in the Hotel Pennsylvania
in New York (phone: PA 6-5000), the Panther Room in the
Sherman House in Chicago, or any of hundreds of nightclubs,
ballrooms, and theaters from coast to coast.
that was Miller's motivation for seeking a commission.
The Navy rejected his request, but not the Army Air Force.
Almost as soon as Miller learned of his commission as a
captain in September 1942, he disbanded his civilian orchestra
and reported for duty on Oct. 7.
civilian bandís final Chesterfield show aired on Sept. 24
from the Central Theater in Passaic, N.J. During the bandís
rendition of Jukebox Saturday Night, the Harry James-inspired
trumpet solo was actually played by James, whose band would
replace Millerís on the broadcasts.
the winter months, Miller handpicked the members for his
45-piece AAF orchestra, including string musicians from
among the nation's top symphony orchestras. In
the spring of 1943, after completing basic training, they
began rehearsals at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.,
which served as a training center for AAF cadets. Ironically,
Miller rejected a 19-year-old pianist named Henry Mancini,
whom a decade later would be selected to arrange the music
and write the title theme for the The Glenn Miller Story.
In later years, Manciniís influence on popular music would
parallel and perhaps surpass Miller's.
AAF band was first-rate by any standards and included such
outstanding sidemen as drummer Ray McKinley, saxophonist
Hank Freeman, trumpeters 'Zeke' Zarchy and Bernie
Privin, pianist Mel Powell, and vocalistJohnny
Desmond, who moved to Chicago in 1948 to sing on Don
McNeilís Breakfast Club every weekday morning.
June 1943, Miller and his AAF band began a weekly radio
series, "I Sustain the Wings," broadcast coast
to coast on NBC. They also made numerous personal appearances
across the nation. One of their last performances before
going to England was at a Fifth War Loan Drive rally at
the Chicago Theater on June 10, 1944. Miller began the bandís
"I Sustain the Wings" broadcast that night by
noting that already "12 million servicemen and women
had passed through the Servicemenís Center in Chicago as
guests of the city of Chicago."
how the British often referred to the three million American
GIs stationed in England before the D-Day invasion on June
6, 1944. But the British fell in love with Miller's
band following its arrival a few weeks after D-Day. The
band was renamed "the Band of the Allied Expeditionary
Forces." The AEF band immediately began a hectic
schedule of concerts, dances, and radio broadcasts.
didnít come here to set any fashions in music," Miller
wrote from England in 1944 to George Simon (who 30 years
later would write Millerís biography). "We merely came
to bring a much-needed touch of home to some lads who have
been here a couple of years." On Aug. 14, 1944, Miller
was promoted to major.
Oct. 30, 1944, Miller and the entire AEF Band went to Studio
1 of HMV's (His Master's Voice) Abbey
Road Studios in London (the same studios the Beatles
would use some 20 years later) to record the first of six
one-half hour radio programs to be beamed toward German
troops. All announcements and most lyrics were transliterated
into German. The six-show series began airing on Nov.
8th. The recording equipment in these studios was state
of the art for the 1940s.
broadcasts were finally released in 1996 as Glenn Miller:
The Lost Recordings in a two-CD set by BMG Music and
are among the finest recordings available of Miller's
music by either his civilian or AAF-AEF orchestras.
are some BBC broadcasts between June and December 1944 that
illustrate just how good Major Glenn Miller's American Band
of The Supreme Allied Command (1944) really was:
last broadcast is from Paris on Christmas Day 1945. At the
end of the show, an announcement is made saying the Miller
movie star and singer Irene Manning (Yankee Doodle Dandy,
Hollywood Canteen) was in London with other American
performers entertaining members of the armed forces.
She was invited to sing with the Miller orchestra on a couple
of the German propaganda broadcasts. Manning told me in
1997 that she arrived early for each session at Abbey Road
Studios to discuss the songs she would sing and study the
transliterations. But she was surprised to learn there was
no time for rehearsal. Manning simply had to wing it.
And she did so beautifully, recording four songs in German:
All The Things You Are, Long Ago And Far Away, Mary's
A Grand Old Name (from Yankee Doodle Dandy),
and Begin The Beguine.
Miller's disappearance in December 1944, his AEF band
was led by Sergeant Ray McKinley and continued performing
for Allied troops in Europe. During their year overseas,
Miller's AEF band made some 500 radio broadcasts and
gave more than 300 performances at concerts and dances.
One of the largest concerts was presented on July 1, 1945
to 40,000 Allied troops at the Nuremberg Stadium, once the
setting for Hitlerís rallies. American Patrol, one
of Millerís biggest hits with his civilian band, received
thunderous applause from grateful GIs.
Band of the Allied Expeditionary Forces returned to New
York City on August 12, 1945. A few months later,
the members of Miller's AAF band were discharged. Their
leader had been gone since that fateful day in December
1944. Now the band was gone, too.
the war, Tex Beneke was invited by the Glenn Miller Estate
to lead the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Beneke had been
one of Miller's personal favorites and was widely identified
with Miller's civilian band. The Beneke-led GMO
started performing in 1946 and immediately drew a good following.
The band played both civilian and AAF-AEF band arrangements.
the late 1940s, Beneke introduced a number of new songs
and some bebop numbers into the band's book as a way
of staying with the times. Bebop did not set well
with the Glenn Miller Estate, however, and they finally
severed their association with Beneke. He later appeared
in Miller alumni reunions, often teaming with Ray Eberle
and the Modernaires and former members of Miller's civilian
band. Beneke kept playing into the mid 1990s, always remembering
those marvelous times he had with the civilian band, and
always performing in the Miller style without the sanction
of the Miller estate. He died in 1999.
capitalized on the lasting popularity of Miller's music
by encouraging the formation of the Ralph Flanagan Orchestra
in 1949, which featured a "Singing Winds" reed
voicing very similar to the Miller sound. Following
the Flanagan band's first hit that year, You're
Breaking My Heart, the band worked 574 times in the
next 594 days!
by the sustained success of Beneke and Flanagan, and also
by the box-office success of The Glenn Miller Story
in 1954, the Miller estate has managed numerous successor
bands since 1956. Over the years, the "Official Glenn
Miller Orchestra" has been directed by various leaders,
including Ray McKinley, Buddy DeFranco, Peanuts Hucko, Buddy
Morrow, Jimmy Henderson, and
O'Brien has been leading the band since 1981. The band,
following in the tradition of Miller's civilian and
Air Force bands, continues to play a hectic schedule of
one-nighters 48 weeks each year throughout the United States,
Canada and Japan. Fortunately, the O'Brien-led Miller
band has recorded several superb CD's, including three wonderful
Christmas albums. You can order the band's CD's and look
at the its tour schedule on the Glenn
Miller Orchestra web site to find out when they will
be playing in your area.
destination marker may read "Tuxedo Junction,"
"In the Mood," "Little Brown Jug," or
any of a number of Miller hits. But this bus is always going
to the same destination: the Miller band's next engagement.
bus is not a home away from home for band members; this
bus is their home!
see when the bus will bring the band to your area, click
here to see their schedule.
1st, 2008 marked the 104th anniversary of Glenn Miller's
birth. Although he has been gone for 64 years, his music
remains very popular. We probably receive as many e-mails
pertaining to Glenn Miller as we do about all other big
band leaders combined.
big band that plays Miller's music on the Continent,
and plays it very well, is the Jack
Million Band. This band, led by Jack Coenen and based
in Belgium, not only plays Miller's music remarkably
well but many other big band charts as well.
reason Glenn Miller's music remains so popular in the
United Kingdom is because of the success of theThe
Syd Lawrence Orchestra during the past 30 years. This
is a great band that has dedicated itself to playing music
in the Miller mood, and playing it beautifully! It is a
terrific orchestra with a
loyal following throughout the U.K. and continues performing
even though Lawrence died in 1998. Since Lawrence's passing,
Chris Dean has been doing a great job leading "the
best band in all the land."
Big Band Buddies shows a wonderfully dedicated British
fan's devotion to the music of Glenn Miller. His monthly
magazine is subscribed to by Miller fans around the world.
the equator, there is the excellent Australian Glenn Miller
Tribute Band that was formed in 1995. This band is comprised
of veteran musicians who love what they are doing. They
are dedicated to Miller's music and even don uniforms
imported from the United States with authentic badges and
emblem of "Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary
Forces," as it appeared on the AEF band's music
stands in Bedford, England in late 1944, has been emblazoned
on their stands. You can see this emblem on Major Glenn
Miller's sleeve in this photo.
to see these bands whenever you have a chance. You'll
be glad that you did! And you can order CDs from each of
the above web sites if you wish.
enduring quality of Millerís music is that it was the sound
of an era. Countless movies and made-for-television films
set in the 1940s have featured the Miller reed voicing to
evoke nostalgia. One of my favorites was the NBC miniseries
in the late 1970s based on Anton Myrerís best-selling novel,
The Last Convertible. The miniseries' musical
director, Pete Rugulo, used the Miller sound throughout.
Myrer named each section of his novel after a song from
the 1940s: Racing With The Moon, I Don't Want To
Walk Without You, Don't Get Around Much Anymore, It's
Been A Long, Long Time, and Serenade In Blue.
I hear that serenade in blue,
somewhere in another world alone with you,
all the joys we used to know,
"Serenade in Blue" (Gordon-Warren), recorded May
As of May 2008, more than 1,400 CD's of Glenn
Miller's music are readily available on Amazon.
One only has to browse through Glenn Miller albums at major
record stores or music web sites on the internet to realize
that the Miller sound is going to be around for many, many
more years. These CD's feature music by both Miller's
civilian and AAF bands, as well as by the successor bands
mentioned below. In recent years, a couple of dozen albums
featuring radio broadcasts of Miller's civilian and
AAF bands have appeared, usually of excellent fidelity,
making Miller collectors throughout the world happy indeed.
Collectors also can find many LPs, 45 and 78 rpm recordings
of Miller's music available at used record stores from
coast-to-coast and abroad (my favorite is Music
Man Murray in Los Angeles). These stores often
have those magnificent limited-edition albums from the 1950s,
which have been collectors' items for half a century,
as well as the reissue albums from the 1970s featuring every
record Miller ever made for RCA's Victor and Bluebird
You also can find vintage Glenn Miller albums on the Collector's
Corner web page of The
World Famous Official Glenn Miller Orchestra U.S. web
courtesy of Jesse Callahan
The Very First Time is a three-LP limited edition album
of Miller's civilian band air checks that RCA Victor
issued in 1959. It remains one of my favorites. Some of
its songs have appeared on CDs in recent years. If you have
this album, cherish it, take good care of it, and treat
it as you would any precious family heirloom.
You can hear the entire album right now by clicking the
"Play" button in the audio player below the photo
of the album cover.
music continues to be played by big band radio stations
and on the internet across the country and around the world.
The revival of swing music in recent years has created a
renewed interest in big band music, and once again music
in the Miller mood is very popular.
there is one reason for the lasting popularity of Glenn
Millerís music, it is that his approach, his songs, his
arrangements, and his musicians and singers provided just
the right combination for their time. Just ask anyone who
lived during the Swing Era.
discover the magic of music in the Miller mood for yourself.
All you have to is listen....
illustration of the Norseman carrying
Major Glenn Miller as it allegedly flew
through bombs being dropped by RAF planes
over the Channel on its return to Great
Britain on Dec. 15, 1944.
The New York Times article below appeared
at the end of 1985, a number of people, mostly
from the United Kingdom and South Africa and
some from the United States, have come forth
to offer their own alleged first-hand accounts
of Glenn Miller's disappearance. Some have told
their versions several times in recent years,
often changing their stories.
these people waited more than 40 and sometimes
more than 50 years to come forth is more of
a mystery to me than Glenn Miller's disappearance
recently, I hadn't heard any reason not to accept
the official version of Major Alton G. Miller's
disappearance that was announced by the BBC
to a war-weary world on Christmas Eve 1944,
namely, that on Dec. 15th the famous bandleader
disappeared in a small plane en route from England
to Paris somewhere over the English Channel.
Miller was on his way to make arrangements for
his Band of the Allied Expeditionary Force to
give a Christmas Day concert in Paris for Allied
was flying in a Norseman on a day when that
small plane should never have been allowed to
take off. According to Miller's friend and biographer,
the late George T. Simon, the atrocious weather
had already delayed Miller for two days. Anxious
to make the crossing, Miller accepted an offer
to make the trip with Col. Norman Baesell, who
was going to Paris on that day no matter what.
Baesell had to conduct essential war business
-- to refill empty champagne bottles for the
writes that when Miller boarded the small plane,
the band leader asked Baesell where the parachutes
the matter, Miller?" Baesell asked. "Do
you want to live forever?"
article below suggests that the Norseman carry
Miller, Baesell, and the pilot might have been
hit and destroyed by bombs being jettisoned
by RAF planes returning from an aborted bombing
mission over Germany. It suggests
that, but suggesting doesn't prove anything.
A recent report claims that the Norseman carry
Miller over the Channel on Dec. 15, 1944 flew
other missions. It was decommisioned in 1947.
matter is still being debated six decades after
Glenn Miller disappeared. A book by Hunton Downs,
The Glenn Miller Conspiracy, was published
in April 2009. Downs claims that Miller was
sent on a secret mission to Germany in December
1944 to persuade anti-Hitler generals to alert
the Allies of troop movements. These generals
would prevent their own troops from participating
in these movements and be spared by the Allies.
But Hitler found about Miller's visit. The Nazis
tortured Miller, leading to his death.
have claimed that Miller died in a Paris brothel
in December 1944.
can read what others think by joining our new
Music in the Miller Mood Yahoo! Group located
on this web page:
Dec. 30, 1985óTwo members of a Royal Air Force
bomber crew in World War II believe they can
explain one of the unsolved mysteries of the
war: the disappearance of the band leader Glenn
Miller. The two say they fear the band leader's
plane was downed over the English Channel by
bombs jettisoned from their own plane as they
returned from an aborted mission.
twoóthe navigator and the pilotósaid their four-engine
Lancaster bomber was one of some 150 returning
from an aborted mission on Dec. 15, 1944óthe
same day Mr. Miller took off in bad weather
from an airfield near Bedford, England, on a
flight to Paris, where he was to give a show.
The two R.A.F. crewmen said that after the jettisoned
bombs exploded, they saw a Norseman aircraft
fall into the sea below them, apparently knocked
out of the sky by shock waves. The plane carrying
Mr. Miller, who was then a Major in the Army
and leader of the Army Air Force band, was a
official version of the band leader's disappearance
is that his aircraft vanished in the channel
fog, perhaps disabled by ice on its wings. Other
theories were more bizarre: That he faked his
own death, that he was a secret agent, that
he died in a Paris brothel with the crash story
as a cover-up, or that he was the victim of
R.A.F. crew's story was originally raised in
public last year by the navigator, Fred Shaw,
who now lives in South Africa. His theory, which
appeared in South African newspapers, was discounted,
however, by members of the Glenn Miller Appreciation
Society, a London group with an abiding interest
in Mr. Miller's life and music, on the grounds
that no R.A.F. planes were assumed to be in
the air that day because of the poor weather.
one member of the society, Alan Ross, of Liverpool,
England, investigated Mr. Shaw's claims. Mr.
Ross wrote to the Defense Ministry and placed
an advertisement in the R.A.F. Association Journal,
Air Mail, seeking other members of the
Ross said that members of the Appreciation Society
believed the Defense Ministry had been asked
about the matter years ago and that the ministry
had replied that "not even the pigeons
were flying that day." Defense Ministry
officials, however, could not recall such a
found at the Ministry of Defense by E. A. Munday,
of the Air Historical Branch, confirmed that
a squadron of Lancasters had, in fact, taken
off at noon on Dec. 15, 1944, and had flown
on a course over northern France, near the Belgian
border, on a mission to attack the railway yards
at Stegen, Germany.
entering German-controlled airspace, the force
was recalled," Mr. Munday said. "According
to standing orders, the bombs were jettisoned
in designated areas before landing."
a letter last May, Mr. Munday wrote Mr. Shaw:
your story appeared in the South African press
in 1984, the R.A.F. had always regarded Miller's
death as a strictly U.S.A.A.F. matter, as the
result of some sort of flying accident, probably
as a result of poor weather conditions. We have
received letters at various times asking about
it, some of which put forth theories, some feasible,
and some not so feasible.
until 1984, the only R.A.F. connection was that
Miller's plane had taken off from the R.A.F.
airfield at Twinwood Farms, Bedfordshire in
weather conditions which could be described
as marginal, or at least marginal for that type
story, to a greater extent, changed this, and
we carried out an investigation earlier this
year into the aborted bomber operation of 15
Dec.1944. Because the operation was aborted,
there is no raid report on B(omber) C(ommand)
records, as would have been customary with a
completed operation. We did find reference to
the intended course."
Miller flight took off from Twinwood Farms,
near Bedford, 50 miles northwest of London,
at 1:55 P.M. Greenwich War Time. The pilot filed
no flight plan and his course is unknown. Mr.
Munday said today that, although the band leader
was flying to France at the time the R.A.F.
squadron was returning from its aborted mission,
they could have been miles apart.
Gregory, the pilot of the R.A.F. plane, now
living in Westonsuper-Mare, England, answered
Mr. Ross's advertisement, thinking it had something
to do with a reunion. He confirmed Mr. Shaw's
bombardier, Ivor Pritchard, who would have had
the best view, asked the navigator whether he
could see the bombs exploding, Mr. Gregory recalled.
The pilot said Mr. Shaw "got up and looked
out of the little dome and spotted this aircraft,
rear gunner, who was looking around all the
time, saw it tip up and go into the sea,"
Mr. Gregory said. "When these bombs go
off, they cause a lot of explosion." The
gunner, Harry Fellowes, then asked on the intercom,
"Did you see that kite go in?" A kite,
Mr. Gregory explained, was slang for a plane.
Pritchard died in 1983, according to Mr. Ross,
but Mr. Fellowes may still be alive, and his
former crew members are anxious to talk to him
and to the other crew members: Robert O'Hanlan,
the radio operator; Derek Thurman, the engineer;
Derek Arnold, the mid-upper gunner; and Frank
Appleby, the mid-under gunner. They also want
to locate the crews of other bombers in the
asked why it had taken so long for him to come
forward, Mr. Gregory said he had forgotten the
incident until contacted by Mr. Ross.
we got back from that raid," he explained,
"it was an aborted raid, so we didn't go
in for our normal debriefing. Don't think me
unsympathetic or callous, but when I heard of
the plane going down, I would have said that
he shouldn't have been there--forget him. My
own concern was getting my own airplane home
safely. We were fighting a war, and we lost
thousands of planes. We had some pretty grim
raids after that, and they didn't announce Miller's
death until later. It had gone completely from
my mind." Mr. Miller was first reported
missing on Dec. 24, 1944.
Shaw said that he had become interested after
he saw the film, The Glenn Miller Story,
in 1954, checked his log book, and realized
the downed plane might have been carrying the
band leader. He was rebuffed when he approached
newspaper reporters at the time and forgot about
it until he saw the movie again, years later,
in South Africa.
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