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James B Robinson
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On this day, 75 years ago…..

December 15, 2019 · in Diorama · · 7 Comments

The Day the Music Died

Alton Glenn Miller (March 1, 1904 – December 15, 1944)

Glenn Miller was the best-selling recording artist from 1939 to 1943, leading one of the best-known big bands. In just four years, he scored 17 number-one records and 59 top ten hits - more than Elvis Presley (38 top 10s) and the Beatles (33 top 10s) did in their careers.

From the Glenn Miller Archives Facebook page:

“It has been seventy-five years since Major Alton Glenn Miller, Air Corps, Army of the United States disappeared. The following statement was originally posted by the Glenn Miller Archives on December 14, 2009 and signed by Steven Davis Miller, Claude Frederick “Alan” Cass and Dennis M. Spragg. The statement was repeated on December 14, 2014 and is now again posted:
At approximately 13:55 BST Friday, December 15, 1944, the Eighth Air Fore Service Command Noorduyn C-64 “” aircraft, serial number 44-70285, departed RAF Twinwood Field with three souls on board. The aircraft flew into history, disappearing en-route to Villacoublay Aerodrome, Versailles, France. Aboard the aircraft was the celebrated Major Alton Glenn Miller of the Army Air Forces Training Command HQ Squadron, Fort Worth, Texas, serving as director of the Army Air Forces Band (Special), known in the European Theater of Operations as the American Band of the AEF and detached for temporary duty to Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF). The aircraft was charted south from England but did not appear over France. It was known for certain the aircraft departed and Miller was aboard. It was not known for certain what caused the aircraft to vanish or where it came to rest. Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) became aware that aircraft and its occupants were unaccounted for on Monday, December 18, 1944. At that point Eight Air Force at the command of Maj. Gen. Orvil A. Anderson, Deputy Commander for Operations, began what they knew to be a fruitless search but also launched an investigation to ascertain, in the words of SHAEF Deputy Commander and G-1 (Administration) chief Gen. Ray W. Barker, “how the hell did we lose Glenn Miller?”
The gravity of the situation caused shockwaves from London to Washington.
The responsibilities of global war were great for Gen. Henry Harley “Hap” Arnold, commanding general of the United States Army Air Forces. Although he cared for every member of the AAF, he could not possibly convey his respect personally for every family of the fallen during the conflict. However, he showed the ultimate respect by taking time out of his intense schedule to telephone Helen Miller, inform her of the circumstances and convey his condolences. In 1945 there would be spontaneous tributes from Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and President Harry Truman. None were perhaps as fitting as what Lt. Gen. James Doolittle, commander of Eighth Air Force said to Miller, “next to a letter from home, your band is the greatest morale booster in the ETO.”

We now know with 100% certainty that Major Miller boarded the aircraft and that it vanished over water. We now know with 100% certainty that the Eighth Air Force investigated the disappearance and issued a classified report on January 20, 1945 that concluded the C-64 probably went down over English Channel due to a combination of pilot disorientation, icing leading to carburetor heater failure, a compromised fuel flow and possible wing ice, or the possibility of a hydraulic fluid leak. We now know with 100% certainty that RAF Lancaster bombers did not accidentally cause the C-64 crash

Major Miller was a casual passenger who was not authorized to board the aircraft, thus in violation of his orders, as he sincerely sought to perform his duties as he saw fit. Thus into the mists of eternity passed a unique, brilliant and seminal talent.
On this anniversary, be we resolved to honor the truth about this great man, defend his real legacy and admire his devoted life partner Helen Dorothy Burger of Boulder, Colorado. Their class, style and good taste continue to be models to which we may aspire. May we who inherit the legacy be always worthy of our special privilege and govern ourselves accordingly.
Dennis M. Spragg
December 14, 2019

To learn more about the military service of the renowned Major Alton Glenn Miller and the factual evidence of his untimely and tragic disappearance, please read “Glenn Miller Declassified” from the Potomac Books imprint of the University of Nebraska Press. The publisher will release the updated paperback edition of the book on March 1, 2020, Major Miller’s 111th birthday.”

Glenn Miller looking over his California ranch “Tuxedo Junction” in 1942 … what might have been.

My Diorama for the iModeler at the Movies group build, as it is today.

For more images, refer to the WIP posts here:

  1. The Day the Music Died – The Glenn Miller Story Intro
  2. The Day the Music Died – Part 2: The Aircraft
  3. The Day the Music Died – Part 3: The Diorama.

7 responses

  1. On this day in 1944 Glenn Miller disappeared. You can read about his life, legacy, and death in Dennis Spragg's book "Glenn Miller Declassified." They're all autographed and would make a perfect gift this holiday M Spragg: Glenn Miller Declassified

    Posted by Education at the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force on Sunday, December 15, 2019
  2. James,
    This is an excellent article ! There have been a lot of rumors floating around over the years, and some have even claimed that his plane was shot down by the Luftwaffe. Personally, I'd be more inclined to think it was a combination of things, such as pilot error, weather and ice... Maybe someday they will find the wreckage using sonar, and they "might" be able to identify the actual cause(s). This could be a hard nut to crack, especially how salt water and marine life can affect things that have been submerged 75 years. Toss in some damage from fishing and shrimping nets ... and you see what I mean.

    I have been watching your diorama come to life from the very start, and I am very impressed with all of the research you have put into this. The building, car(s) the aircraft... everything looks spot on and is a testament to your skills, both as a builder and as a researcher.

    Well done buddy !

    and a great big "liked". I can't wait to see this one finished... Are you planning on adding some interior to the control tower ?

  3. Hey Louis, Thanks! I actually was tempted to do the interior. I have enough images to replicate the top and bottom front rooms, but for now, I'm just going to build the facade with windows, doors and the roof. Maybe in the future I might reconsider. Too many other projects in the works that I'm itching to get after. 🙂

    As for finding the wreck, it's possible, but highly unlikely. The UC-64 was covered in fabric and probably the only thing left is the metal frame and engine.

  4. I was 14 year's old when the plane went missing. We heard all about it on the local Akron, Ohio radio, including seeing some film clips on
    "Wes-Brook Van Vories" weekly movie theater news segment he produced, as it came with Lowell Thomas' "March of Dime's" news cast. Fast forwarding ahead to the summer of 1951 as a young adult of 20 years old I started going with my male buddies to "Lake Myers" park which was located between Canton and North Canton, Ohio. (30 miles from my home). Every Tuesday night was ladies night and they got to come into the dance hall's ballroom "free." Us guys had to pay a quarter (0.25¢) to get in. In those days we had a dress code for the men and ladies. Men wore a suit and tie, with shiny shoes, clean finger nails and a 1940-1950 man's haircut. Ladies must come into the dance hall wearing a nice clean dress that covered her knees, and was buttoned at the neck. She had to wear nylon long stockings with top quality high-heel shoes.

    We also had a language code and you could not use any bad words like "hell and/or damm." Men had to act like a gentleman and the ladies acted like ladies.

    Alcohol was served in Beer & mixed alcohol beverages like a "Screwdriver"( orange juice and gin or vodka). Any whisky was usually poured over the rocks,
    (ice cubes).
    Of cource we danced to Harry James band and one year we got to dance to none other than the real "GLENN MILLERS" band. There must have been 30 musicians in the Miller band. Our older generation like my parents often went dancing when Glen brought his band to Akron as our town was once called "The Rubber Capitol of American." We were the home to the 3 major tire making companies. Glen, Harry, Gene Kruper and many other bands are still in my "dance-hall" memory bank @88 years old. Gene had a fantastic band and he was the greatest drummer that ever lived.
    P.S. You have a nice diorama!

    • Rodney @f2g1d, you got me beat by about 27 years! I grew up watching Mom & Dad dancing to the Big Bands. Being a drummer I agree with you, Krupa was the best. Buddy Rich was just a little too arrogant for my tastes.

      It's a work in progress. Can't wait to get started on the Control Tower!

  5. Awesome project, love it and the history behind it. We were never into the big bands in my household but my daughter started listening to Ella Fitzgerald this year and it's been a cool musical experience.

  6. Jimmy @hetstaine, as we say in the States...Ella's got some chops! Great voice. Thanks for the comps on the project, it has become a passion.

    James B

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