Glenn Miller Research => General Discussion => Topic started by: Martin X. Moleski, SJ on December 28, 2017, 06:00:49 PM

Title: Dennis M. Spragg -- Glenn Miller Declassified
Post by: Martin X. Moleski, SJ on December 28, 2017, 06:00:49 PM
Spragg has a website devoted to the topic of Miller's disappearance:


He identifies the aircraft as a C-64B in his description of the event:

"On December 15, 1944, Maj. Alton Glenn Miller, Air Corps, Army of the United States, commanding officer of the Army Air Forces Band (Special), assigned to Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), boarded Eighth Air Force Service Command Noorduyn C-64B 'Norseman' aircraft 44–70285 at the Royal Air Force Twinwood aerodrome, Clapham, Bedfordshire. Piloted by Flight Officer John Robert Stuart Morgan, the aircraft was destined for Ninth Air Force aerodrome A-42D, Vélizy-Villacoublay, France. Miller accepted an invitation from Lt. Col. Norman Francis Baessell, liaison officer for VIII AFSC with the U.S. Strategic and Tactical Air Forces Europe, to accompany him on the routine flight. The aircraft departed Twinwood at 13:55 British Summer Time (GMT+1). An aircraft described as an AAF C-64 was observed passing over the south coast of England at Beachy Head between 14:30 and 14:45 BST. The aircraft and its occupants vanished.

"To this day the United States Air Force classifies Miller, Morgan, and Baessell as missing in action. SHAEF did not know Miller was aboard the aircraft until December 18, 1944. Eighth Air Force launched a search and investigation on December 19. Considering witness testimony and verifiable details and with absence of evidence to the contrary, Eighth Air Force concluded that a catastrophic event occurred over the English Channel, determining the probable causes of the apparent accident to be pilot disorientation, mechanical failure, and/or bad weather. No one has ever found any trace of the aircraft or its occupants."
Title: Re: Dennis M. Spragg -- Glenn Miller Declassified
Post by: Ric Gillespie on December 29, 2017, 08:05:31 AM
I'm in touch with Dennis Spragg and he has provided us with some of the documents he has agreed to share with us.  I like Dennis. He's a passionate Miller fan and has done the best research on the disappearance to date, but in his writing sometimes the line between what is documented to be true and what he believes to be true gets fuzzy.
Somewhere he got the idea that 470285 was a C-64B, but if you go to http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_serials/1944_5.html you'll see that the aircraft was clearly a C-64A produced in Fiscal Year 1944.  There were only ten C-64Bs, 2 in FY 1942 and 8 in FY 1943.  All were transferred from the RCAF to the USAAF.  http://cgibin.rcn.com/jeremy.k/cgi-bin/gzUsafSearch.pl?target=&content=C-64B.

It's strange that, on his website, Spragg should characterize the flight as "routine" when, in his book, he cites abundant proof that the flight was anything but routine.  To be charitable, maybe he meant that Miller accepted the ride believing it to be routine.

Title: Re: Dennis M. Spragg -- Glenn Miller Declassified
Post by: Dennis M Spragg on January 11, 2018, 10:29:01 AM
Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Dennis M. Spragg. I direct the Glenn Miller Archive of the University of Colorado Boulder and I am the author of the new book Glenn Miller Declassified.  Thank you to Ric and all for your kind comments and for considering the book as a resource. It is a great privilege to join your forum. I hope that my perspective may be of some value and relevance going forward.

Given my responsibility as Miller’s biographer and formal archivist, as well as the circumstances surrounding the seven decades of unsubstantiated rumors about his disappearance, I keenly value your focus on evidence rather than supposition. Dozens of opinions from the bizarre to the possible about Miller and the circumstances of December 15, 1944 have been put forward over the years. You can imagine the wide range of generally uninformed beliefs and odd personalities that I have come to know.

I have tried to address the subject as an historian rather than others who more resembled novelists. The methodology used by others was to gather circumstantial and undocumented opinion to support preconceived notions, as opposed to gathering hard evidence, corroborating scattered facts to put together a rational jigsaw puzzle. You can perhaps see why I find Ric and your team to be refreshing after dealing with many silly “conspiracy theories” for so many years, including murder, execution, cancer, clandestine activities and black market dealings; In particular, the vile musings of the truly insane Wilbur Wright and ludicrous Lancaster testimony of Fred Shaw.

Among the many positive professional reviews of Glenn Miller Declassified, it has been noted by some that the book tends toward being heavily detailed. That was a deliberate approach. With so many misconceptions about Miller even beyond the disappearance itself, it was time to fully correct the record. The late Steven Miller, Glenn’s son, drilled into me the need for fidelity to accuracy and precision with regard to his father. That is why the book stops short of guessing when hard evidence is not available and the conclusions align with a logical series of events and outcomes.

You can throw all non-aviation thories about the disappearnce of Miller into the waste basket. Regarding aviation stories, you can also eliminate the RAF Bomber Command Number 3 Group Lancasters. We know beyond any doubt they did not cause the accident. I am pleased and prepared to provide Ric and your team supporting documentation as needed and have already done so.

Ric is correct that the aircraft was an A model and not a B. I’ve gone back to my notes and at some point I was convinced the B series started but did not end at a certain point, which he has very graciously pointed out to me in our conversations. I have long thought the AAF aircraft card showing “A” was incorrect. The good news is that it is essentially the same aircraft. I have also amended my website regarding the word “routine.” By that I meant that this was a routine mission or “normal” flight (perhaps normal is a better word) that the pilot and aircraft were typically flying on a daily basis, that is, the Eighth Air Force Service Command trips between England and France to support Far Shore operations, as well as flights on the continent. The point is that the aircraft was employed for regular or “routine” cross-channel flights using a designated air transport corridor on a generally daily basis without any loss of equipment or people until December 15, 1944. We can certainly argue whether the C-64 was the right aircraft for a cross-channel mission in marginal weather conditions, but that is the liaison equipment that VIII AFSC had available to them for scheduled courier and special passenger or light cargo trips. They went back and forth almost every day to and from the Far Shore.

About the aircraft color scheme, before August 1, 1944, Burtonwood was in the habit of applying theatre paint (olive/gray) to the transport aircraft upon arrival from North America. 44-70285 was flown from Cartierville, Quebec to Newark for shipment to the ETO in silver matte, based upon normal Noorduyn and AAF delivery procedure.  44-70285 could possibly have been delivered from Burtonwood to Eighth Air Force Service Command in silver matte without the olive/gray application, but I could not find any evidence of this for the book. We have never located a confirmed photo of 44-70285 or identified it in the background of any other photo. There is also the question of invasion stripes, which I briefly mention in the book. Friends and colleagues are of different mind. The late Royal Frey of the Air Force Museum believed they were not added since the aircraft arrived later in July 1944 and the stripes were by then being confined to the fuselage below the national insignia. Artists have long queried me and I’ve stayed safe by sticking with theatre paint and no stripes or possibly only lower fuselage stripes. But you cannot eliminate silver matte as a possibility unless there is definitive evidence to the contrary.

Thank you again to Ric and Tighar. Major Glenn Miller was a consequential patriot and you honor him by your informed interest. I welcome your insights, since we share a common interest in precision and accuracy. May I take the liberty of welcoming all of you to the rational and real world of Major Glenn Miller!

Title: Re: Dennis M. Spragg -- Glenn Miller Declassified
Post by: Ric Gillespie on January 11, 2018, 10:51:12 AM
Thank you Dennis, and let me be the first to welcome you to the rational and real world of the TIGHAR Forum.  It's an honor to have your support and participation.
Title: Re: Dennis M. Spragg -- Glenn Miller Declassified
Post by: Andrew M McKenna on January 15, 2018, 08:16:30 AM
Welcome Dennis

Are you in Boulder where the Archive is housed, or are you somewhere else?


Title: Re: Dennis M. Spragg -- Glenn Miller Declassified
Post by: Dennis M Spragg on January 16, 2018, 08:38:49 AM
Hello Andrew!

Glad to meet you, too and thank you for your kind welcome.

I commute to Boulder from my primary residence in Milton, MA.

Title: Re: Dennis M. Spragg -- Glenn Miller Declassified
Post by: Andrew M McKenna on January 16, 2018, 06:24:03 PM

Next time you head out to Boulder, let me know.  Would love to share coffee or lunch with you.


Title: Re: Dennis M. Spragg -- Glenn Miller Declassified
Post by: Dennis M Spragg on January 16, 2018, 08:26:07 PM
Will do.