Article Data
Author: Ray Hahn
Affiliation: South Jersey Postcard Club
Written: August 2002

Publication history:
            First: SJPCC Newsletter, October 2002

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Number of words: 892 including captions on illustrations
Illustrations: 2 photographs and 2 postcards

December 15, 1944
            World War II generated mysteries without parallel, and one such event took place on December 15, 1944.   The disappearance of Major Miller is among the most mysterious events of the whole war.
            For nearly sixty years, stories have surfaced that claim to be the real truth about what happened that day and now a new voice makes the scene. PBS.
            Yes, Public Television, has just released a new program about recent research into the disappearance of Major Alton Glenn Miller.
            Upon completion of a thorough and scientific investigation of the circumstances, British air historian Roy Nesbit now asserts that Glenn Miller's plane was bombed out of the sky over the English Channel at exactly 1:43 PM on December 15, 1944, by none other than an Allied bombing mission gone bad. To make a long story short, here is the best of it.
            The son of an Iowa schoolteacher, Miller was a minor player in the Big Band era, and was for nearly twenty years a journeyman musician.   It wasn't until 1937 that Miller was finally able to make his music so distinctive - here's how.   Using clarinets to replace the trumpets which were so commonplace in big band music, he instantly was one of those twenty-year, over-night successes that they talk about in the entertainment industry.   The rest, as they say, is history.   America couldn't get enough of Glenn Miller.
            Miller joined the Air Force in 1942 and was immediately assigned to form a marching band.  It was a minor success but was continually reorganized.   Then in June 1944, when Miller and his band arrived in England, it become obvious that he was about to change American music forever.   Amid the ferocious warfare, Miller had the sound that could lift the spirit of American's fighting men.   He had captured the power of America in music and everyone loved him.
            Immediately, the band setout on a grueling schedule of concerts and for nearly five months they worked tirelessly entertaining Allied troops in dozens of different venues across England.   When in August the Allies recaptured Paris, Miller promised the troops a reward of a Christmas concert in France.
            On December 12, 1944, Miller played his last concert, and the next day planned to fly to Paris to make arrangements for the promised concert.   The weather for the next two days was wet and foggy - even the air war was put on hold.  Then on the 15th, the fog was lifting and Miller was invited to join Lt. Colonel Norman F. Baessell on a flight leaving from Twinwood Farm Airport (just a bit northeast of London).
            Pilot and Flight Officer John Morgan meet Baessell and Miller at Twinwood Farm just after 1:30 PM on that day.   The plane Morgan was flying was a Noorduyn Norseman C-64, a high wing, Canadian aircraft that had a solid reputation of being reliable.
            Two eyewitnesses, including the Twinwood flight controller, Anne Carroll, testified that the plane left the ground at 1:55 PM.  It was never seen again - or so it was thought, until 1984 when a retired engineer living in South Africa, realized that he had seen the Norseman C-64 crash into the English Channel.
Noorduyn Norseman C-64
His name was Fred Shaw, an honored and distinguished RAF navigator on the ill-fated, September 15, 1944, mission of Lancaster Squadron #149.            
            John Morgan failed to file a flight plan thus estimating the path he followed to the European mainland was difficult, but Nesbit has now had access to dozens of recently unclassified top-secret documents that make it clear that there was only one 'Safe Shuttle Route' to Europe on that day.   Morgan would have headed south along the edge of the London No-Fly Zone, then after crossing the southern coastline of England at Beachy Head, he would have turned south-east toward Dieppe on the Normandy coast.   It was the only way to avoid Allied artillery units that watched the skies for the German 'doodle-bugs.'
            At 11:30 AM the 138 crews of the Royal Air Force's Lancaster Bomber Squadron #149 had left
their base in East Anglia for a scheduled two o'clock bomb-run on Siegan, Germany (forty miles northest of Bonn).   They had been in the air for nearly ninety minutes when they received a message that because their fighter plane escorts were grounded because of poor visibility, they would need to abort the mission.   After they turned toward the west, they were instructed to jettison their bombs in the English Channel at what was known as the Southern Jettison Zone (50º 15'N latitude by 0º 15' E
Lancaster Bomber - Part of Squadron #149

The last photograph of Miller.

longitude) - a location also unknown until Roy Nesbit examined the unclassified documents of the Royal Air Force in 1998. The Squadron arrived at the jettison zone at 1:43 PM.   The Norseman C-64 being piloted by John Morgan, with Colonel Baessell and Glenn Miller did too. The bombers were flying at approximately 9,000 feet, the C-64 at about 2000 feet.   The bombs were jettisoned and as they fell into the Channel they exploded and took the small plane and its three passengers into oblivion.   Fred Shaw saw it happen.
            Is the mystery solved?   We think so.
            The world learned that Glenn Miller was missing on Christmas Eve, 1944.   The Paris concert was performed as scheduled.

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