The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery
2366 Hickory Hill Road · Oxford, PA · 19363 · USA
610.467.1937 · info@tighar.org

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    His music was the soundtrack of the Greatest Generation, and remains popular to this day. Glenn Miller dominated the Big Band era with hits like “In the Mood,” “String of Pearls,” “Moonlight Serenade” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo” when he gave up a $15,000 per week income in 1942 to join the war effort hoping, as he put it, “to be placed in charge of a modernized Army band.” He got his wish and from September of 1944 until his untimely death, Major Alton G. Miller’s Army Air Force Band gave 800 performances for troops stationed in England.

    On December 15, 1944, Miller boarded a USAAF C-64 Norseman for a flight to Paris to coordinate relocating the band to the Continent. He was never seen again. An official inquiry concluded that the aircraft went down in the English Channel, possibly due to weather, but no wreckage or remains were ever found.

    The unresolved death of any celebrity is fertile ground for conspiracy theories and Glenn Miller’s disappearance is no exception. He was a secret agent for the OSS, captured by Germans, tortured, and left to die in a Paris brothel; killed in a drunken brawl; died of lung cancer in a French hospital; mistakenly shot by an airfield sentry; etc. (Mercifully, so far, he has not been captured by the Japanese.)

    The best-known, and most commonly accepted, explanation for the Norseman’s loss has been that it was a casualty of friendly fire. In 1984, former RAF navigator T. E “Fred” Shaw recalled seeing a small aircraft knocked into the Channel by bombs jettisoned from RAF Lancasters returning from an aborted mission. Historian and author Roy Conyers Nesbit researched Shaw’s story and found it credible. His 2009 book Missing Believed Killed details his investigation. Roy Nesbit died in 2014. Dennis Spragg is the author of Glenn Miller Declassified, published in September of 2018. Drawing on numerous sources and declassified documents, his book identifies significant problems with the friendly fire theory and makes a strong case for the Norseman having gone down due to icing. TIGHAR is in touch with Mr. Spragg who has agreed to assist in our investigation.

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