On this day, 75 years ago…..
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 “Norseman” 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:
- The Day the Music Died – The Glenn Miller Story Intro
- The Day the Music Died – Part 2: The Aircraft
- The Day the Music Died – Part 3: The Diorama.