Tukufu: his music was the soundtrack for a generation



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TUKUFU: HIS MUSIC WAS THE SOUNDTRACK FOR A GENERATION

TUKUFU: BUT ON CHRISTMAS EVE 1944 THE WORLD HEARD STUNNING NEWS.

Broadcast: “Major Glenn Miller, the well-known American bandleader, is reported missing.

John: They never found a body. They don’t really know what happened. Woosh, he was gone.

TUKUFU: WAS HE ACCIDENTALLY SHOT DOWN BY THE BRITISH ROYAL AIR FORCE?

ROY NESBIT: Just happened to be Glenn Miller in the wrong place at the wrong time.

TUKUFU: DID HIS AIRCRAFT CRASH IN BAD WEATHER?

PILOT SOT: Clear.

KAIAMA: Would ice accumulation actually be enough to bring the Norseman down?

TUKUFU: OR WAS HIS DISAPPEARANCE TIED TO A ROLE IN A SECRET WARTIME PLAN TO OVERTHROW HITLER?

Les Bach: It starts with Duke Ellington and it ends with a plot to assassinate the Fuehrer.

TUKUFU: ON THIS EDITION OF HISTORY DETECTIVES SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS, WE DIG BENEATH THE OFFICIAL STORY….

David: This area is a center for a lot of covert activity.

TUKUFU: TRACK THE FINAL MOMENTS OF MILLER’S MISSING FLIGHT

WES: There’s about a 15 mile discrepancy.

TUKUFU: AND UNEARTH LONG-BURIED MILITARY FILES

WES: Wow.

TUKUFU: AS WE ANSWER THE QUESTION: WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO GLENN MILLER?

VO: History Detectives special Investigations was made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by contributions to your PBS station, from viewers like you. Thank you.

TUKUFU: We have us an investigation. Glenn Miller disappears during World War Two. A major mystery.

WES: Think of the Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones. I mean this guy, Glenn Miller, was every bit as big as those guys were in the 1940s.

KAIAMA: It's hard to imagine that he could’ve just disappeared without a trace.

TUKUFU: Yeah, poof. He’s gone

WES: He you know he takes off from an airbase in England on the way to Paris. And his plane just vanishes. Presumably it's crashes into the English Channel. But you know what, nobody ever found the plane.

WES: STRANGELY THERE HAS NEVER BEEN AN OFFICIAL, PUBLISHED REPORT ON WHAT THE US MILITARY BELIEVE HAPPENED TO MILLER THAT DAY. INSTEAD THERE ARE UNANSWERED QUESTIONS, SPECULATION AND FRAGMENTS OF INFORMATION.

KAIAMA: I found something a little odd. You guys might want to take a look at this. It’s a PR document from the supreme headquarters of the allied expeditionary force. Notice anything about that date?

TUKUFU: 24th December 1944.

WES: He disappeared on the fifteenth of December. Why would they wait, what is that, like nine days before they make an initial, an official announcement that he’s disappeared.

KAIAMA: Exactly. I'm thinking that there’s something at least a little bit unusual if not to say downright fishy about that delay.

TUKUFU: Yeah. And -- And we know that Miller himself was kind of afraid of flying. The weather was really bad that day. Why would he have gotten into that plane to fly over the English Channel?

WES: It’s stuff like this that has led to all sorts of conspiracy theories over the years.

WES: THESE INCLUDED WILD TALES THAT MILLER WAS FOUND DEAD IN A PARIS BROTHEL OR SECRETLY RETURNED ALIVE TO THE UNITED STATES

WES: Here’s another one. This guy, Hunton Downs…the Glenn Miller conspiracy. In this one Glenn Miller is part of a secret plot to overthrow the Nazi government. Well, listen to this. He'd be flown to Berlin where the Undercover insurgents would have taken over the radio facilities.

WES: ONE THEORY IS THAT MILLER HAD BEEN PLANNING TO MEET DISSIDENT GERMAN ARMY OFFICERS, AND BROADCAST SUBVERSIVE MESSAGE TO THE GERMAN PEOPLE.

WES: And all of a sudden the German populous would overthrow the Hitler government. Right

KAIAMA : The idea that Glen Miller was a spy for the government. It sounds farfetched but there is, there's precedent for that. Think about Josephine Baker. Same time, same war. She was down in North Africa traveling, entertaining with secret messages written on her sheet music.

WES: I never heard that! Really?

KAIAMA: Absolutely.

TUKUFU: And here’s another theory. The British government did their own investigation uh because they were concerned that he possibly was killed by friendly fire.

WES: Oh I haven't heard that one.

TUKUFU: Yeah.

WES: I say we break this down and uh divide the task up and conquer right?

TUKUFU: Absolutely. Now one of us is gonna have to go to England. And I'm going to volunteer to do that.

WES: You get to go!

TUKUFU: Yeah somebody’s got to do the hard work here.

KAIAMA: Well I'm gonna take this spy business seriously.

WES: I’m really intrigued by this friendly fire theory

TUKUFU: Well let’s stay in contact and let’s take this investigation international.

KAIAMA: We got a plan.

WES: Alright.

TUKUFU: I’M IN ENGLAND, WHERE MILLER WAS STATIONED WHEN HE VANISHED. IN 1942, AT THE HEIGHT OF HIS POPULARITY THE 38 YEAR-OLD BAND LEADER VOLUNTEERED FOR MILITARY SERVICE. HIS 50 PIECE DANCE ORCHESTRA PLAYED TO HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF GI’S IN THE UNITED STATES AND WARTIME ENGLAND. SOME OF THE THEORIES FOR WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM SEEM UNLIKLEY OR FAR-FETCHED. IS IT POSSIBLE TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT AND SOLVE THIS MYSTERY AFTER MORE THAN HALF A CENTURY?

TUKUFU: MY FIRST STOP IS TWINWOOD FARM AIRFIELD, JUST OUTSIDE OF BEDFORD.

TUKUFU: Hey, John.

JOHN: Tukufu, nice to meet ya.

TUKUFU: My pleasure.

TUKUFU: I’VE BEEN ABLE TO TRACK DOWN A SURVIVING RELATIVE WHO LIVES IN ENGLAND, GLENN’S NEPHEW JOHN MILLER. HE’S AGREED TO MEET AT A PLACE THAT HOLDS BOTH SADNESS AND MYSTERY FOR HIS FAMILY.

JOHN: This is the place where my Uncle Glenn took off from on his last flight.

TUKUFU: JOHN WAS ONLY A CHILD WHEN HIS UNCLE VANISHED. AS WAS THE CASE FOR TENS OF THOUSANDS OF WARTIME FAMILIES, THERE WAS A KNOCK ON THE DOOR IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY.

John: I remember actually when we were notified. A guy came out. I was about that tall.

TUKUFU: Okay.

John: And, uh I was under orders not to open the front door. I did. I opened the door and here’s...this line of brass buttons disappearing over a khaki cliff.

TUKUFU: IT WAS THE WORST POSSILE NEWS. HIS UNCLE GLENN WAS MISSING IN ACTION.

TUKUFU: Now how did that affect your family?

John: Well, my father took it very hard. And, of course, the rest of the family took it hard. And not knowing was uh really...I think that was really the toughest part of it all.

TUKUFU: FORTY TWO YEARS-OLD HELEN MILLER WAS GLENN’S COLLEGE SWEETHEART. THE COUPLE HAD TWO YOUNG ADOPTED CHILDREN, STEVEN AND A DAUGTER, JOHNNIE.

John: It was tough. It was tough on a lot of families.

TUKUFU: FOR A YEAR, HELEN WROTE TO THE ARMY AIRFORCE FOR MORE INFORMATION. SHE’D HEARD RUMORS GLENN HAD BEEN IN A PRISONER OF WAR CAMP. BUT THE MILITARY SAID HE’D SIMPLY FAILED TO ARRIVE AT HIS DESTINATION AND NOW WAS PRESUMED DEAD. HERB MILLER COULDN’T ACCEPT THAT HIS BROTHER HAD SIMPLY VANISHED AND THAT THERE APPEARED TO HAVE BEEN NO OFFICIAL INQUIRY.

TUKUFU: HE EVEN THOUGHT THAT GLENN MAY HAVE BEEN SECRETLY RETURNED TO THE UNITED STATES

John: My father actually looked for Glenn, for years.

TUKUFU: HERB BELEIVED HIS BROTHER HAD GOTTEN CANCER AND HAD QUIETLY BEEN SPIRITED HOME FOR TREATMENT.

John: Glenn was a very dapper guy. But Glenn had lost so much weight. His tailor made uniforms hung on him. It could have been because he was ill from all the smoking. My father even went up to Oakland to see a fellow who was in the, uh, Veteran’s hospital. And uh because there was an Alton G. Miller there.

TUKUFU: And what did he find?

John: He found somebody that wasn’t Glenn. But he never really accepted the fact.

TUKUFU: Um hmm.

John: He was gone.

TUKUFU: JOHN SUGGESTS HIS FAMILY’S SCEPTICSM WAS THE RESULT OF GRIEF AND A LACK OF HARD INFORMATION.

TUKUFU: Do you feel that the questions, the issues surrounding his death have been answered?

John: Not even close. Not even close.

TUKUFU: WITH NO FULL, OFFICIAL ACCOUNTING OF WHAT HAD HAPPENED, THE MILLER FAMILY HAD BEEN LEFT CLUTCHING AT STRAWS.

John: They never found a body. They don’t really know what happened. He was gone. Just, woosh, gone

WES: I’M GONNA START WITH SOME OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK, AND RETRACE MILLER’S STEPS. WHAT ARE THE KNOWN DETAILS AND CHRONOLOGY FROM THE DAY HE VANISHED?

WES: You know, there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation about exactly what happened to Glenn Miller. I need to find out the basic facts.

WES: THE NIGHT OF DECEMBER 14TH 1944 – THE DAY BEFORE HE VANISHED, MILLER HAD GOTTEN A PHONE CALL. FOR SEVERAL DAYS HE’D BEEN ATTEMPTING TO FLY TO PARIS. HE WAS PREPARING A BIG CHRISTMAS DAY CONCERT FOR THE SOLDIERS WHO HAD FOUGHT THEIR WAY FROM NORMANDY THROUGH NAZI-OCCUPIED EUROPE.

WES: BUT THE BAD WEATHER HAD KEPT HIM GROUNDED. ON THE PHONE THAT NIGHT, ACCORDING TO THIS ACCOUNT BY MILLER EXPERT GEOFFREY BUTCHER, WAS HIS BAND MANAGER, DON HAYNES. HE TOLD MILLER THAT AN ACQUAINTANCE, LT. COL. NORMAN BAESSELL WAS HEADING TO PARIS THE FOLLOWING DAY. BAESSEL HAD OFFERED MILLER A RIDE.

WES: THE NEXT MORNING DECEMBER 15TH, MILLER, DON HAYNES AND NORMAN BAESSELL ARRIVE AT TWINWOOD. THE WEATHER IS STILL FRIGID, BUT SHORTLY AFTER LUNCH, BAESSELL’S PLANE AND PILOT ARRIVE FROM NEARBY ALCONBURY. AS THE THREE MEN APPROACH THE WAITING C64 NORSEMAN, ITS ENGINE IS RUNNING, AND MILLER IS CLEARLY NERVOUS.

WES: The book says that it was so cold that Haines walked over to look at the thermometer on the wall of the control tower. It was thirty-four degrees. At this point, Miller is starting to maybe express some doubts about whether this is a good idea. And he says, Hainsy, even the birds are grounded today.

WES: DESPITE HIS CONCERNS, MILLER GETS ON THE NORSMAN ALONG WITH BAESSELL. ALREADY ON BOARD IS PILOT JOHN MORGAN.

WES: It’s just amazing, considering these facts that Miller, who was afraid to fly in the first place would get on a plane in this weather

WES: THE NORSEMAN TAXIS TOWARDS THE RUNWAY. AND AT 1.55 IN THE AFTERNOON, , MILLER, BAESSEL AND MORGAN TAKE OFF, HEADING FOR THE ENGLISH CHANNEL.

WES: IT’S A GRIPPING ACCOUNT, BUT THERE’S NOTHING IN THESE DETAILS THAT EXPLAIN WHAT HAPPENED TO MILLER. AS I READ ON, I MAKE A DISCOVERY.

WES: Yeah.

WES: IT’S A STORY ABOUT THE SO-CALLED FRIENDLY FIRE THEORY. IN THE MID 1980’S A FORMER ROYAL AIR FORCE NAVIGATOR FRED SHAW MADE THE EXTRAORDINARY CLAIM THAT HE MAY HAVE SEEN GLENN MILLER DIE.

WES: SHAW SAID A BRITISH LANCASTER HAD DROPPED ITS BOMBS OVER THE ENGLISH CHANNEL AND THAT ONE HAD DESTROYED A C-64 NORSEMAN. THE SAME KIND OF PLANE THAT GLENN MILLER HAD BEEN FLYING. IT SEEMS A LEADING BRITISH RESEARCHER NAMED ROY NESBIT HAD INVESTGATED. THIS MAY BE OUR FIRST SOLID LEAD

WES: I do think that, uh, it’s worth looking at the...this theory of friendly fire. That the RAF accidentally dropped bombs on Miller’s plane

TUKUFU: WORKING WITH THE INFORMATION WES UNCOVERED, I’VE TRACKED DOWN ROY NESBIT IN THE TOWN OF SWINDON, ABOUT 80 MILES WEST OF LONDON.

TUKUFU: When the war broke out, I was just eighteen years old.

TUKUFU: ROY IS A FORMER RAF NAVIGATOR WHO FLEW SOME 50 MISSIONS. HE SAYS THAT SOME FORTY YEARS AFTER MILLER VANISHED; THE BRITISH MINISTRY OF DEFENSE HAD BEEN ALERTED THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE ACCIDENTALLY KILLED HIM.

Roy: They had received a report, emanating from South Africa, that the navigator in Avro Lancaster returning from an aborted raid had seen the Norseman dive into the sea in what was called the Southern Jettison area.

TUKUFU: Wait. He...he actually saw it go down?

Roy: Yes, he saw, so he said, this Norseman dive into the sea.

TUKUFU: ACCORDING TO NESBIT, THE HISTORICAL BRANCH OF THE ROYAL AIRFORCE, QUIETLY SUGGESTED HE INVESTIGATE.

Roy: They thought I might be able to answer it, um, because I’d been a navigator during the war. I was familiar with the research in the Public Record Office

TUKUFU: THE BRITISH AUTHORITIES WERE CONCERNED. THE IDEA THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE ACCIDENTALLY KILLED AMERICA’S LEADING MUSICAL CELEBRITY WAS STILL POTENTIALLY EMBARRASING.

ROY: I think they wanted to get it off their backs quite frankly —

FRED SHAW: This was…

TUKUFU: THE ALLEGED EYE-WITNESS FRED SHAW WAS LIVING IN SOUTH AFRICA. THE INVESTIGATOR, ROY NESBITT, ARRANGED FOR HIM TO BE INTERVIEWED ON CAMERA. SHAW DESCRIBED HOW THAT DECEMBER 15TH HIS 4-ENGINED AVRO LANCASTER HAD SET OUT TO BOMB THE GERMAN CITY OF SIEGEN. BUT THE WEATHER HAD BEEN TERRIBLE, AND THE OPERATION WAS ABORTED MID-FLIGHT.

FRED SHAW: Anyway we turned around. The whole stream of Lancasters. There were well over a hundred.

TUKUFU: THE LANCASTER NEEDED TO GET RID OF ITS BOMBS BEFORE IT COULD LAND AND SHAW WAS CURIOUS.

FRED SHAW: Now I’d never seen a bomb explode from the air before, so I left my seat, and put my head into the little observation blister. From where I could look vertically downwards.

TUKUFU: ROY’S PLANE HAD BEEN CARRYING GIANT BOMBS KNOWN AS ‘BLOCKBUSTERS’, OR ‘COOKIES’, DESIGNED TO FIREBOMB GERMAN CITIES.

Roy: Four thousand pound high explosive bombs.

TUKUFU: That’s a pretty big bomb.

Roy: It’s a very big bomb indeed. It was designed to blast all the buildings.

TUKUFU: THIS WAS A DAYLIGHT RAID AND SHAW WANTED TO WATCH AS THE BIG BOMBS WERE JETTISONED.

FRED SHAW: Now, just before we dropped our load, my bomb aimer called up and said “They’re going to off. They’re exploding”

FRED SHAW: And there sure enough, the cookies, were exploding. And i could see the blast waves radiating outwards like shimmering gray circles.

TUKUFU: SHAW SAID HE WAS STUNNED AT WHAT HAPPENED NEXT.

FRED SHAW: As I was watching I saw an aircraft. The bomb aimer said there’s a kite down there, and I looked and I saw a small high-winged mono-plane which I recognized immediately as a Norduyn Norseman.

Roy: He recognized the Norseman, because he had trained in Canada where the Norseman was a familiar sight.

TUKUFU: Um hmm.

Roy: So he could recognize it immediately.

TUKUFU: HE SAID THE BLAST WAVE FROM ONE OF THE EXPLODING BOMBS CAUSED THE SMALL PLANE TO CRASH.

FRED SHAW: As I watched him, just before he got to the leading edge of the wing, I saw him do a stalled turn to port and go straight into the drink. There was a white splash and that was it.

TUKUFU: SHAW CLAIMED IT WAS YEARS LATER, AFTER WATCHING THE 1954 MOVIE “THE GLENN MILLER STORY”, THAT HE PUT TWO AND TWO TOGETHER. HE SUDDENLY REALIZED HE MAY HAVE SEEN GLENN MILLER DIE. SHAW WENT PUBLIC WITH HIS ASTONISHING STORY. ROY NESBIT’S JOB WAS TO SEE IF THE STORY LINED UP WITH THE KNOWN FACTS.

TUKUFU: So, what you needed to do is know when those planes had turned around, what time. And then what time, uh, Glenn Miller’s plane left the airstrip.

Roy: I had to work out the speed in which it would reach the jettisons area. I had to work out the time the Lancaster involved landed

TUKUFU: Okay.

Roy: ...and work it backwards to the jettisons area. And I needed to plot it all out.

TUKUFU: What is it that gave you the qualifications to make these kinds of calculations?

Roy: Well, I had been a navigator, a navigation instructor. I still had all my old instruments. I knew exactly how to do it.

TUKUFU: THE LOG BOOK HAD THE PLANE RETURNING AT 14:20 HOURS. NESBIT BELIEVED THIS WAS GREENWICH MEANTIME; LOCAL TIME WAS AN HOUR LATER, 15.20 OR TWENTY MINUTES PAST THREE. THIS IS A CRUCIAL BIT OF INFORMATION

TUKUFU: THE BOMBERS HAD BEEN FLYING AT 225 MILES AN HOUR. WORKING BACKWARDS, NESBITT CALCULATED THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN OVER THE SOUTHERN JETTISON ZONE 38 MINUTES EARLIER, AT EIGHTEEN MINUTES TO THREE.

TUKUFU: MILLER’S NORSEMAN HAD LEFT TWINWOOD AT FIVE MINUTES TO TWO. Its ESTIMATED AIRSPEED WAS 158 MILES AN HOUR.

TUKUFU: IT WAS CLOSE. BUT ROY’S CALCULATIONS SHOWED MILLER’S PLANE WOULD HAVE ARRIVED AT THE JETTISON ZONE AT EXACTLY EIGHTEEN MINUTES TO THREE. THAT WAS JUST AS THE BOMBERS WERE LEAVING THE SAME LOCATION

Roy: So once they coincided, it seemed to me.... It seemed to me very significant indeed.

TUKUFU: So why didn’t Shaw and the gunner report this at the time it happened?

Roy: Because, it was an aborted raid. And, in an aborted raid there was no debriefing. But, even if they had reported it. I don’t suppose anything would have been done. I saw things in the war that...that I tried to report, and nobody took any notice.

TUKUFU: So they would have had no reason to report this?

Roy: No. If they had seen people in a dingy, they thought were Allied, then certainly air sea rescue would have gone out and they would have insisted when they got back... there were our men in a dingy there. Do something about it. But, there was no possibility of any survivor from that aircraft. It had gone in the water.

TUKUFU: A ONCE-SCEPTICAL ROY NESBIT NOW BELIEVED THE GLENN MILLER MYSTERY HAD BEEN SOLVED. EITHER A DIRECT HIT OR SHOCKWAVE FROM A JETTISONED BOMB HAD BROUGHT DOWN MILLER’S PLANE.

ROY: It was also discovered that this was the only Norseman in the air, at that time. So what else could it be? It had to be Glenn Miller.

TUKUFU: So this is just a tragic case of friendly fire.

Roy: It is indeed. It just happened to be Glenn Miller in the wrong place at the wrong time. Poor chap. I mean its sheer damn bad luck. It’s one of the tragedies of war.

WES: Hey Tukufu.

TUKUFU: Hey Wes. How ya doin’?

WES: Yeah, good. So uh how did your interview with Nesbit go?

TUKUFU: I’m going to tell you. He has this theory about friendly fire, and it’s pretty tight.

WES: So any doubts about the friendly fire theory?

TUKUFU: (phone call) it’s a little odd Shaw didn’t report the crash. And he waited years to talk about it?

WES: uh huh

TUKUFU: But Roy Nesbit’s calculations seemed thorough.

TUKUFU: Look. I’m open to an alternative explanation, but it is going to have to be very compelling.

WES: Well look, I may want to do some due diligence on my own.

TUKUFU: Well let me know what you find.

WES: Right. Ok, later.

WES: I’VE BEEN DIGGING INTO THIS FRIENDLY FIRE THEORY AND MADE A DISCOVERY ONLINE. IT’S A NEWS STORY FROM 2012.

WES: The headline is “Glenn miller clue found in Reading pane-plane spotters log” Huh.

WES: THE NEWS RELATES HOW, IN JANUARY 2012, 77-YEAR OLD SYLVAN ANDERTON ARRIVED AT THE ANTIQUES ROADSHOW IN ENGLAND, WITH A JOURNAL THAT HAD BEEN KEPT BY HIS BROTHER.

WES: DURING THE WAR RICHARD ANDERTON HAD WORKED AT A MILITARY BASE IN WOODLEY NEAR MAIDENHEAD. HE WAS AN AVID PLANE SPOTTER.

WES: Now a plane spotter is a guy who’s just logging and spotting planes that were flying over, just for a hobby. So, so this says that on December 15th 1944 he logged in a Norseman that was passing on the horizon and flying east to south east.

WES: Look at that! It’s a picture of the log itself that the guy brought in to the antiques roadshow

WES: THE CURIOUS TEENAGER RECORDS THE SIGHTS AND SOUNDS OF WAR OVER HIS CORNER OF SOUTHERN ENGLAND THAT COLD DECEMBER MORNING.

WES: And uh, Friday December 15th 1944, um, morning force of us bombers heard. Oh here look at that! Afternoon: one Norseman going east to south east.

WES: NESBIT HAD TOLD TUKUFU THAT MILLER’S NORSEMAN WAS THE ONLY NORSEMAN THAT HAD TAKEN OFF OVER SOUTHERN ENGLAND THAT DAY.

WES: RICHARD ANDERTON HAD CLEARLY WONDERED WHETHER HE HAD WITNESSED GLENN MILLER’S FINAL FLIGHT. INSIDE THE JOURNAL WERE NEWS CLIPPINGS ABOUT GLENN MILLER’S DISAPPEARANCE.

WES: … you know, this is all new information. This gives me an idea.

Wes: According to Nesbit, Glenn Miller took off from Twinwood which is near Bedford flew down through Bovingdon, hit the Thames then headed southeast over Beachy head.

WES: NESBIT HAD PLOTTED THE MOST DIRECT ROUTE, WHILE STILL AVOIDING LONDON. BUT THE POSSIBLE SIGHTING BY ANDERSTON HAS THE NORSEMAN MAKING THE TURN TOWARDS THE CHANNEL IN A DIFFERENT LOCATION

WES: Now our antiques road show guy saw what he said was Glenn Miller’s plane or what we assume was Miller’s plane, … in Woodley which would have meant that from Twinwoods it would have had to go through Maidenhead and then southeast to Beachy Head.

WES: AND THAT DISCREPANCY MAY BE CRITICAL. NESBIT’S MARGINS HAD BEEN VERY TIGHT. THE LANCASTERS WERE LEAVING THE JETTISON ZONE AS MILLER’S AIRCRAFT ARRIVED. IF MILLER’S JOURNEY IS EXTENDED WEST, IT WOULD HAVE TAKEN SOME SIX MINUTES LONGER TO GET TO THE JETTISON ZONE.

WES: The bombers would have already jettisoned their bombs by the time Glenn Miller’s plane had flown by

WES: I’M GROWING INCREASINGLY SKEPTICAL OF THE FRIENDLY-FIRE THEORY. WHY HAD THE CREW NEVER REPORTED THE CRASH?

SHAW: A white splash and that was it.

WES: WHY HAD SHAW WAITED DECADES BEFORE COMING FORWARD? AND THE NEW INFORMATION IN THE JOURNAL ADDS A QUESTION MARK OVER THE TIMING. I’M NOT SURE THAT THE FRIENDLY FIRE THEORY HOLDS UP. BUT UNLIKELY AS IT IS, KAIAMA’S ON TO SOMETHING EVEN STRANGER.

KAIAMA: ONE OF THE SEEMINGLY FAR-FETCHED THEORIES ABOUT THE DISAPPEARANCE IS THAT MILLER HAD BEEN KILLED ON A SECRET MISSION BEHIND ENEMY LINES AND THE PLANE CRASH WAS A COVER STORY.

KAIAMA: “THE GLENN MILLER CONSPIRACY” ALLEGES MILLER HAD BEEN ATTEMPTING TO MEET DISSIDENT GERMAN ARMY OFFICERS.

KAIAMA: ACCORDING TO THE BOOK, THE PLAN WAS TO BROADCAST SURRENDER MESSAGES TO THE WAR-WEARY GERMAN POPULATION. IT SOUNDS FAR-FETCHED, BUT I KNOW ITS THRE THAT IN WORLD WAR II JOSEPHINE BAKER HAD CARRIED SECRET MESSAGES BEHIND THE LINES IN NORTH AFRICA.

KAIAMA: THE BOOK DOESN’T HAVE A LOT OF EVIDENCE TO BACK THE ITS CLAIM. ITS LONG ON SPECULATION AND SHORT ON FACTS

KAIAMA: Frankly I’m not very impressed.

KAIAMA: BUT EVEN THE STRANGEST THEORIES MAY HAVE A GRAIN OF TRUTH….

KAIAMA: Check out this photo I found.

KAIAMA: IT’S A CHRONOLOGY OF MILLER’S CONCERTS IN ENGLAND IN 1944. IN ONE OF THE IMAGES, I FIND A SLIGHTLY SURPRISING FIGURE.

KAIAMA: Now this is a picture of David Niven, the British film star. And the caption here says that Niven and Miller were close colleagues.

KAIAMA: DAVID NIVEN WAS THE CELEBRATED ACTOR WHO HAD LEFT HOLLYWOOD AND RE-JOINED THE BRITISH ARMY DURING THE WAR.

NIVEN: How long has this been going on?

KAIAMA: In the photo, Niven is at Glenn Miller’s first British concert, in Bedford England.

KAIAMA: NIVEN IS ONSTAGE. HE’S DESCRIBED AS A SENIOR OFFICIAL IN CHARGE OF BROADCASTING AND A QUOTE “CLOSE COLLEAGUE” OF MILLER’S.

KAIAMA: BUT BACKSTAGE, NIVEN HAD BEEN A HIGH- LEVEL MEMBER OF A BRITISH COMMANDO UNIT CALLED PHANTOM. THE ELITE, SECRET RECONNISANCE FORCE USED SHORT-WAVE RADIOS TO MARK ENEMY POSITIONS, SOMETIMES PARACHUTING DEEP BEHIND ENEMY LINES.

KAIAMA: AFTER D-DAY HE WAS GIVEN A NEW JOB, WORKING CLOSELY WITH THE AMERICAN FORCES.

KAIAMA: According to this history “Niven was able to make use of his invaluable liaison skills he learned in phantom, to the full. Under the direct command of American general Raymond barker, Niven was to travel extensively in France and beyond, communicating between the allied commanders.”

KAIAMA: IF NIVEN HAD BEEN INVOLVED IN SECRET WAR WORK, IS IT POSSIBLE THAT GLENN MILLER HAD BEEN TOO? AND HAD THIS SOMEHOW BEEN CONNECTED TO MILLER’S DISAPPEARANCE? I’VE FOUND SOMETHING ELSE.

KAIAMA: “Recordings for the office of war information to be broadcast over the American broadcasting station in Europe. The office of war information?

KAIAMA: THE OFFICE OF WAR INFORMATION WAS THE US MILITARY’S PROPAGANDA ARM. I KNEW PART OF MILLER’S JOB WAS BROADCASTING TO GI’S AND CIVILIAN AUDIENCES , BUT THE LABEL SAYS THESE RECORDING ARE FOR THE GERMAN ARMY – THE WERMACHT…..

KAIAMA: Let’s have a listen to this.

SOT: ‘Miller speaking German’

KAIAMA: Now the gist of what they’re saying is, in this kind of scripted conversation, is that, well, Glenn Miller is saying “I don’t speak German very well, and I think I should let the flower speak for me, and then, this uh, woman corrects him and says “well I think you mean to say “you should let the music speak for you.” It’s a very strange little dialogue.

KAIAMA: THE TAPES ARE INTERESTING. THE RECORDINGS WERE ONLY RELEASED IN 1995, MORE THAN FIFTY YEARS AFTER MILLER VANISHED. I WANT TO LOOK INTO THEM, AND SEE IF WE CAN FIND OUT MORE ABOUT GLENN MILLER’S MILITARY CAREER AS MORE THAN JUST A BANDLEADER

TUKUFU: THE PHOTO KAIAMA FOUND OF GLENN MILLER AND DAVID NIVEN SHOWED THEM IN BEDFORD, SOME 45 MILES NORTHWEST OF LONDON. SO, BASED ON HER LEAD THAT’S WHERE I’VE COME NEXT.

TUKUFU: I’M MEETING HISTORIAN DAVID FOWLER JUST OUTSIDE OF TOWN, AT MILTON ERNEST HALL. HE SAYS MILLER AND HIS BAND HAD ARRIVED HERE IN JUNE OF 1944

David: over there on the grass is where the full band played in July 1944, to an audience of something like sixteen hundred.

TUKUFU: FOWLER SAYS THEIR NEW HOME HAD AN OBVIOUS APPEAL FOR A BANDLEADER MAKING RADIO BROADCASTS.

David: Bedford was the largest center for the BBC out of London. There were seven studios and Glenn Miller used one of those.

TUKUFU: BUT BEDFORD WAS MORE THAN THE WARTIME HOME FOR THE BBC ORCHESTRAS.

David: This area, Bedford, is a center for a lot of covert activity. There were a lot of military. Not just American, but British, Polish, French.

TUKUFU: THERE WAS A BRITISH GROUP THAT TRAINED RECRUITS FROM GERMAN-OCCUPIED COUNTRIES IN SPYING AND SABOTAGE; THERE WERE CODE BREAKERS; AND UNITS PRODUCING PROPAGANDA.

David: The building behind us.

TUKUFU: Mmhmm.

David: It was taken over by the American military.

David: There was a grass landing strip, just the other side of the river. Why would there be a need for a grass landing strip? When a couple of miles away there were a couple of military airfields where it was easy to land.

TUKUFU: And Glen Miller was right in the middle of it.

David: The security was exceptional here, as opposed to other American bases around the area. Something was going on.

TUKUFU: So it was more than normal.

David: It was more than normal

TUKUFU: FOWLER SAYS, NIVEN’S JOB WAS TO BE LIAISON BETWEEN THE MILLER BAND, THE BBC AND THE MILITARY.

TUKUFU: So he and Niven were working together?

DAVID: Yes. Well...well, he was to some extent Miller’s boss. Not... not that he would order him around, but h… he was effectively the boss.

TUKUFU: IT WAS DAVID NIVEN WHO HAD BROUGHT THE GLENN MILLER BAND TO BEDFORD, AFTER A HARROWING EXPERIENCE IN THE BRITISH CAPITAL.

DAVID: This, at the time, was when, from the middle of June V-1’s had been landing in London.

TUKUFU: THE V-1 TERROR WEAPON WAS A DRONE AIMED AT CIVILIAN POPULATIONS. FOLLOWING D-DAY HITLER HAD LAUNCHED HUNDREDS OF THESE SO-CALLED “VENGANCE” WEAPONS AT ENGLAND, KILLING THOUSANDS.

David: If you could hear the noise you’re alright. When the noise cuts out, it was gonna dive to the ground, you got under the nearest table, bomb shelter, anywhere safe. The band was not very happy. They are billeted down in Chelsea. And, uh, because of the V-1’s coming in at night they were spending their time in the bomb shelters. So Glenn Miller wanted out of London.

TUKUFU: NIVEN PULLED STRINGS, AND GOT THE BAND OUT OF LONDON, ON A SUNDAY. THE NEXT DAY A V-1 HIT THE BUILDING WHERE THEY HAD BEEN STAYING.

DAVID: Some twenty-five American military had been killed by that bomb, and about fifty other civilians had been killed. So if they’d stayed a couple of days longer, there would have been no Glenn Miller band.

TUKUFU: FOWLER’S NOT SURE IF NIVEN HAD BROUGHT MILLER TO BEDFORD BECAUSE OF ITS ROLE AS AN INTELLIGENCE CENTER, OR WHETHER THIS HAD ANY ROLE IN MILLER’S DISAPPEARANCE.

DAVID: The curious thing is that David Niven, in his biography makes no mention of Bedford. Makes no mention of Miller. So there’s a lot of unanswered questions

TUKUFU: HAD NIVEN OVERSEEN GLENN MILLER’S GERMAN LANGUAGE BROADCASTS?

TUKUFU: Was he involved in the production of Glenn Miller’s German LP’s?

David: I think we’re uncertain about that. I think you need to...to speak with a guy called Les Back, who’s got a lot more information on propaganda of that era.

TUKUFU: Okay, well thank you very much.

David: Okay.

TUKUFU: IT’S CLEAR THAT BEDFORD HAD BEEN A CENTER FOR COVERT OPERATIONS, BUT IT’S NOT CLEAR IF GLENN MILLER HAD BEEN DRAWN INTO THIS SECRET WORLD.

Tukufu: I’m here to meet Professor Les Back at the Bedford Corn Exchange. This historic site is where Glenn Miller held his first concert in England.

Tukufu: How ya doin?

Les: I’m good.

Les: Right there on the old stage is where the...the orchestra of the Allied Expeditionary Force would have been setup. It had a full swing orchestra down there.

TUKUFU: LES SAYS THE CONCERT HERE MADE HISTORY. IT WAS THE MILLER BAND’S FIRST CONCERT IN WARTIME ENGLAND.

Les: David Niven in front in uniform. It’s the soundtrack of the war.

TUKUFU: AMERICA’S LEADING MUSIC STAR HAD BEEN INTRODUCED BY BRITAIN’S TOP ACTOR.

Les: It’s a key moment where celebrities start to get conscripted into the military endeavor. They become conscripted to the cause. I think this is really pivotal. This didn’t happen in...in World War I.

TUKUFU: LES EXPLAINS HOW GLENN MILLER HAD BECOME AN IMPORTANT WEAPON IN THIS PROPAGANDA BLITZ. IN THE 1930’S JAZZ AND SWING HAD SEIZED THE IMAGINATION OF AUDIENCES – IN ENGLAND, AMERICA, AND GERMANY. ALTHOUGH GERMANY HAD GONE TO WAR, LOVE OF MILLER’S MUSIC REMAINED.

Les: There’s some fantastic source accounts of like, you know, parts in the Luftwaffe, manically retuning their radios to catch a few bars of Glenn Miller before they drop their bombs on London.

TUKUFU: THE STRATEGISTS IN GENERAL EISENHOWER’S PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE DIVISION HAD A SPECIAL TARGET: YOUNG GERMANS, STILL IN LOVE WITH GLENN MILLER’S MUSIC.

Les: They were called Swing Kids.

TUKUFU: Mhmm.

Les: Here’s a picture...of a group of young men dressed in Anthony Eden hats. With silk scarves. This isn’t the SS or the Hitler youth. These are anglophone kids who are tuning into the BBC to get some Glenn Miller or other music. They’re also completely sort of taken in by the style.

Tukufu: So these are Germans during the war?

Les: These are German jazz loving kids during the war.

Tukufu: Look at the styles here. This could be Harlem.

Les: It’s not. It’s in Hamburg.

TUKUFU: THE NAZI’S RECOGNIZED THE DANGER FROM MILLER AND HIS FANS. THEY WERE BRANDED AS SUBVERSIVE AND DEGENERATE BECAUSE OF THE MUSIC’S ROOTS IN BLACK AMERICA. SCORES OF “SWING KIDS” WERE SENT TO CONCENTRATION CAMPS. ONE YOUNG JAZZ LOVER DESCRIBED HIS EXPERIENCE.

Les: When the SS officer comes to interrogate him--- He says...the beginning of your treason is Duke Ellington. It starts with Duke Ellington and it ends with a plot to assassinate the Fuehrer.

TUKUFU: LES SAYS WHILE NIVEN HAD BEEN A COMMANDO EARLIER IN THE WAR, BY LATE 1944, HIS CELEBRITY WAS MORE VALUABLE TO THE WAR EFFORT. AND GLENN MILLER’S WAR WORK WAS PURE PROPAGANDA: THE MUSIC SPOKE FOR ITSELF.

Les: He’s not a spy. He’s not pretending. He’s being Glenn Miller, but in a uniform, playing that incredible music to raise spirits amongst those people who love that music on the allied side in Britain and America. But also he’s using that music that’s loved on the other side.

WES: IT’S A FASCINATING LOOK AT MILLER’S LIFE IN THE MILITARY, BUT IT SEEMS CLEAR HIS PROPAGANDA WORK WASN’T RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS DEATH.

WES: IT’S A LITTLE FRUSTRATING: IN SOME RESPECTS WE’RE BACK AT SQUARE ONE AND NO CLOSER TO FIGURING OUT WHAT HAPPENED. I WANT TO GO OVER THE DETAILS OF THE FINAL HOURS AND SEE IF WE MISSED ANYTHING. ONE THING I STILL DON’T UNDERSTAND: WHY HAD THE PLANE TAKEN OFF, WHEN THE WEATHER WAS SO ATROCIOUS?

WES: THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO, BOULDER, IS HOME TO THE GLENN MILLER ARCHIVES. THAT’S WHERE I’M MEETING ED POLIC, WHO HAS WRITTEN ABOUT MILLER’S LAST DAYS IN ENGLAND.

WES: I’ve got a couple of questions that I’m hoping you can help me with

WES: HE SAYS THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING EVENTS AT TWINWOOD THAT DAY IS THE SENIOR OFFICER WHO WAS ALSO HEADING TO PARIS, LT. COLONEL NORMAN BAESSELL.

Wes: Now tell me about him. He...he was on the plane too, right?

Ed: Yes. He was the one who invited Glenn Miller to join him on this flight.

WES: ED EXPLAINS THAT AS MILLER AND BAESSELL WAITED FOR THEIR FLIGHT THAT DECEMBER MORNING, BOTH MEN WERE DESPERATE TO GET TO FRANCE.

Ed: Glenn was anxious to get over Paris. He’s flying over to make sure all the billeting is correct, but also to make sure that all the broadcasting and recording facilities were setup for the band. And, uh, Norman Baessell, was responsible at that time for setting up advance spaces for airplane repair, depots, in Continental Europe.

WES: BAESSELL WAS A TOP OFFICIAL RESPONSIBLE FOR KEEPING THE WAR MANCHINE RUNNING. AS THE CONFLICT IN EUROPE REACHED ITS BLOODY CLIMAX HE HAD DEADLINES TO MEET AND AN AIRFORCE TO SUPPLY.

Ed: He was used to commanding people. Telling them what to do. Getting things done. He was the go-to guy to get a project done. So he was doing lots of flights between Europe and England. And he was spending most of this time in Europe at that time.

WES : THE SCHEDULED PILOT WAS A YOUNG FLIGHT OFFICER, JOHN MORGAN

Ed: He was not yet qualified for night flying, or instrument flying. But, he was very competent for visual flying.

Wes: A d he’d made the Channel crossingo more than once?

Ed: Yes he did it several times with … Norman Baessell.

WES: ED SAYS THAT EARLIER THAT MORNING MORGAN HAD ACTUALLY BEEN DENIED PERMISSION TO FLY TO FRANCE.

Ed: Morgan submitted a flight plan to Paris that was rejected, because Paris was fogged in.

WES: BUT OVER THE PHONE THE HARD-DRIVING NORMAN BAESSELL GAVE THE JUNIOR PILOT A DIRECT ORDER.

ED: Baessell told him to fly to Twinwood Farm. … that he was cleared to go to Paris.

Wes: Uh, now wait a minute. Baessell said he was cleared. But Baessell, did he have official clearance?

Ed: No, he did not. But, uh, he was used to having his way. So he sort of forced Morgan to go on the flight.

Wes: And because he was Morgan’s superior officer, Morgan couldn’t say no.

Ed: He couldn’t reject it. Right.

WES VO: AT ABOUT 1.40 PILOT MORGAN ARRIVED AT TWINWOOD FROM HIS BASE AT NEARBY ALCONBURY.

Ed: The, Norseman … flew in below the clouds, over the field … came down and landed.

WES: MILLAR AND BAESSEL BOARDED THE WAITING NORSEMAN. BUT ED SAYS THE BANDLEADER LIKELY HAD NO IDEA THAT HE WAS PLAYING RUSSIAN ROULETTE. HE WAS GETTING INTO A SINGLE ENGINED PLANE THAT HAD NOT BEEN CLEARED FOR A FLIGHT OVER THE CHANNEL

Wes: I’m gonna ask you to put yourself in Glenn Miller’s shoes. And, he’s waiting for that little single engine airplane to come out of the fog. What was that like? What...what do you think he was thinking about?

WES: ED SAYS THAT MILLER’S FEELINGS WERE CLEAR: HE WAS TERRIFIED.

Ed: They walked up to the airplane threw their bags in. Miller looked around and said, where are the parachutes? Norman Baessell turned to him and said what the hell, Miller; you want to live forever? And they closed the doors and the airplane taxied and took off. And that’s the last that they were seen.

WES: THE UNAUTHORIZED FLIGHT HELPS EXPLAINS THE DELAY IN ANNOUCING MILLER’S DISAPPEARANCE.

ED: The officials didn’t know that Miller was on the plane until three days later, on the 18th of December when the band came over and there was no Miller to greet them as they expected. The Air Force, Army Air Force, did a search. Tried to figure out what happened with the plane.

WES: AND THERE WAS ANOTHER REASON FOR THE DELAYED ANNOUNCEMENT. ON DECEMBER 16TH HITLER LAUNCHED AN ATTACK THAT THREATENED TO CHANGE THE COURSE OF THE ENTIRE WAR.

Ed: The Battle of the Bulge started the next day, after Miller took off. And, uh, it gathered all the headlines.

WES: A QUARTER OF A MILLION OF HITLER’S BEST SOLDIERS HAD THROWN THEMSELVES AT THE AMERICAN FORCES IN THE ARDENNES REGION OF BELGUIM AND LUXEMBOURG.

WES: BAD WEATHER KEPT ALLIED AIRCRAFT GROUNDED. FINALLY ON DECEMBER 23RD THE SKIES CLEARED AND US BOMBERS RETURED TO THE SKIES, POUNDING THE GERMANS. BUT IT HAD BEEN A DESPERATED FIGHT. SOME 19,000 AMERICANS LAY DEAD.

Ed: Miller, as important as he was to the war effort from the entertainment standpoint and morale standpoint, was minor compared to the Battle of the Bulge. So there was a time delay. They spent several more days trying to figure out what happened to them.

Wes: Even as big as Glenn Miller was, the Battle of the Bulge was a bigger newspaper story.

Ed: Most certainly. And then on December 24th, Christmas Eve, the day before this concert that the Miller Band was going to broadcast from Paris, they announced to the public that Glenn Miller was missing.

Wes: Ed, it seems like that...that Miller’s disappearance, has spawned all these weird conspiracy theories. That, uh, he was actually killed, uh, in Paris and his body was misidentified. And he was shipped back to the U.S. and got lost.

Ed: There’s absolutely no…no truth in that story. And there are many other stories that there is no truth in. I think the key thing as to why these conspiracies crop up is because there was never any recovery of part of the airplane or of the bodies.

Wes: All these wacky theories, they must drive Glenn Miller’s family crazy!

Ed: They most certainly do. And it’s a real disservice to this patriot. Glenn Miller, in 1942 before he enlisted, was making fifteen to twenty thousand dollars a week.

And he gave all that up. He left his family to go raise the morale of the troops. The country did well to him and he wanted to give something back. And all these crazy theories are not, uh, doing a service to this patriot. Loved his family, loved the United States, loved his music.

WES: BEFORE I LEAVE, ED SUGGESTS I SPEAK WITH ANOTHER RESEARCHER WHO IS PREPARING A BOOK ON MILLER.

ED: Dennis Spragg has done a lot of researching and information, both British and U.S. records....

WES: Thanks for the lead.

KAIAMA: WHILE WES LOOKS UP DENNIS SPRAGG, I WANT TO A TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT THE AIRCRAFT MILLER FLEW IN. THE WEATHER HAD BEEN BAD, BUT THERE WERE OTHER AIRCRAFT IN THE SKY THAT DAY. WHAT EXACTLY HAD GONE WRONG? HAD THERE BEEN SOME SORT OF MECHANICAL FAILURE?

KAIAMA: Going over everything we know so far I can’t stop thinking about Glenn Miller’s plane flying in bad weather. Was the pilot up to it? Was the plane?

KAIAMA :THE C-64 NORSEMAN WAS A CANADIAN AIRCRAFT DESIGNED FOR THE ROUGH CONDITIONS OF THE CANADIAN BUSH. WHEN WAR CAME, ITS REPUTATION EARNED ORDERS FROM THE US MILITARY AS A TRAINER AND TRANSPORT.

KAIAMA: I found this website that lists a lot of the Norseman planes and what happened to them.

KAIAMA: THE PLANE SAW SERVICE AROUND THE WORLD, BEFORE AND AFTER THE WAR.

Kaiama: “Now we don’t have a lot of precise details, but there are some reports of engine failure.”

KAIAMA: A COMMON DENOMINATOR SEEMS TO BE WINTER WEATHER. HERE ARE JUST A FEW.

NOVEMBER 15, 1945. CRASHED AND DESTROYED SCHWEINFURT, GERMANY. WEATHER BLAMED A MONTH LATER, DECEMBER 10. “CRASH-LANDING DUE TO FUEL STARVATION AND WEATHER AT DONNEMARIE-EN-MONTOIS, FRANCE. 1949. “…A FORCED LANDING DUE TO ENGINE FAILURE, POSSIBLE CARBURETOR ICE.”

KAIAMA: ANOTHER IN 1955. “CRASHED INTO TREES AND BURNED. POSSIBLE CARBURETOR ICE.” PERHAPS SUCH ACCIDENTS ARE JUST THE RESULT OF HARD FLYING IN WINTER WEATHER. BUT MAYBE NOT.

Kaiama: is it possible something about the Norseman contributed to Glenn Miller’s disappearance?

KAIAMA: I’VE COME TO THE BRITISH COLUMBIA AVIATION MUSEUM TO MEET PILOT STEVE WALL. IN THE 1980S STEVE FLEW A WWII-ERA NORSEMAN IN THE CANADIAN BUSH FOR 5 YEARS.

STEVE: Clear.

Voice off camera: Clear.

KAIAMA : I WANT TO SEE IF HE CAN HELP ME FIGURE OUT WHAT MIGHT HAVE GONE WRONG THAT DECEMBER DAY IN 1944.

Steve: Welcome aboard, Kaiama. Come on in.

Kaiama: So Steve we know that Flight Officer Morgan, the pilot of the plane Glenn Miller disappeared in, he wasn’t particularly experienced in flying on instrument. Now, when would it be called...for flying on instrument?

Steve: Well, the Norseman is normally flown under visual flight conditions. He’ll find himself on instrument whenever he loses reference to the ground.

Kaiama: So, an inability to really negotiate and deal with the instruments, could that too be a factor in bringing the Norseman down?

Steve: There’s a lot of pressure involved in sustained instrument flying. This is a very basic panel with very limited aids to help you.

Kaiama: So, it would, again, then be a question of experience in figuring out what to do in a crisis situation.

Steve: It could be difficult.

KAIAMA: THE C-64 NORSEMAN WAS POWERED BY A NINE CYLINDER PISTON ENGINE: STEVE SAYS IT WAS A WORKHORSE, BUT WINTER WEATHER KEPT PILOTS ON THEIR TOES.

Steve: The engine being a...a carbureted engine is susceptible to carburetor icing.

KAIAMA: THE CARBURETOR FEEDS THE FUEL INTO THE CYLINDERS BUT IF IT ICES UP THE ENGINE IS STARVED AND CAN SHUT DOWN. STEVE SAYS ICE COULD TARGET THE ENTIRE PLANE.

Steve: Ice can accumulate on any forward facing surface, including the struts, lifts, struts, the outriggers, the landing gear. The propeller can accumulate ice

Kaiama: And would ice accumulation actually be enough to bring the Norseman down?

Steve: Oh, a Norseman caught in a severe icing condition, with airframe icing and carburetor icing, it could certainly bring it down.

Kaiama: Given your experience flying in bad weather conditions, and knowing what we know about what Glenn Miller’s pilot would have been facing, what conclusions can you draw?

KAIAMA: STEVE SAYS IT’S IMPOSSIBLE FOR HIM TO KNOW EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED. BUT THE THREE MEN WHO HAD LEFT TWINWOOD THAT DAY HAD HEADED INTO A WITCH’S BREW OF POTENTIAL PROBLEMS.

Steve: Well, I can only imagine that a low time instrument pilot finding himself in poor visibility extremes of icing conditions, perhaps mechanical difficulties with the aircraft could find himself with compounding problems that would add up to a very challenging flight.

WES : HAD MECHANICAL PROBLEMS BROUGHT THE NORSEMAN DOWN? WE’VE BEEN ABLE TO RUN DOWN THE RESEARCHER ED POLIC MENTIONED. DENIS SPRAGG IS PREPARING A BOOK ON MILLER, BASED ON RECORDS BOXED UP AT THE END OF THE WAR.

WES : HE SAYS THAT AS THE WEATHER WORSENED NORMAN BAESELL’S DECISION TO IGNORE AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL NOW BECAME CRITICAL . THE THICK FOG AND LOW CLOUDS THAT WOULD ALLOW HITLER TO LAUNCH THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE THE NEXT MORNING, WAS ADVANCING OVER THE CONTENTENT. MILLER WAS HEADING DIRECTLY INTO IT.

Dennis: As he flew to the south the ceiling dropped from three thousand feet to two thousand feet, down to about fifteen hundred feet. It was getting worse and worse and worse.

WES : PILOT JOHN MORGAN WASN’T INSTRUMENT RATED , AND SO COULD NOT FLY THROUGH THE CLOUD TO GET ABOVE IT.

Dennis: And in addition, he was entering conditions that were in freezing.

WES: DENNIS SAYS AS TEMPERATURES FELL THE NORSEMAN REVEALED ITS ACHILLES HEEL.

Dennis: The carburetor heaters on the aircraft had been recalled. There were eight Norsemen, prior to this accident, that were documented as having carburetor heater problems.

WES: THE DANGER OF CARBURETOR ICING THAT STEVE WALL MENTIONED, AND KAIAIA HAD TRACKED, HAD DOGGED THE NORSEMAN FROM THE START.

DENNIS: And they weren’t the only plane that had carburetor heater problems.

WES: DENNIS SAYS HE DISCOVERED THAT THE CARBURETOR HEATER HAD BEEN PROBLEMATIC ON A NUMBER OF US AIRFORCE PLANES.

DENNIS: This part was defective in B-17’s, B-24’s and other combat aircraft.

Wes: So...okay. So...so you’re saying that the plane that Miller took off in probably had one of these defective carburetors in it?

Dennis: Not probably, they all did. They had all been fitted with the same part, right out of the factory.

Wes: Whoooa!

Dennis: I want you to now read...this…

Wes: “Carburetors are no longer being supplied by the States. Consequently the only source of supply is from repairable carburetors turned in to repair depots.” So, they’re saying there aren’t any.

Dennis: Correct. Bottom line is, is that they didn’t have enough of these things to put in all the planes. And they prioritized the combat aircraft over the utility aircraft.

WES: THE BIG BOMBERS WHICH ALSO USED THE CARBURETTOR WERE NEEDED TO CARRY THE WAR DIRECTLY TO HITLER.

Wes: So the B-17 and the B-24 would have gotten the repaired carburetors or any new carburetors that came in so Miller’s plane, obviously, is a utility, everyday plane.

Dennis: Correct.

Wes: did Morgan know that he had a defective carburetor? Or, was he warned about these defective carburetors?

Dennis: The pilots knew.

Wes: The pilots knew.

Dennis: Oh, yeah. They were told. And the maintenance crews knew. They all knew because they received the recall note...They...they had a memo saying, your carburetor heater could act up. Take precautions

Wes: So. Alright. What happened?

Dennis: The airplane got out over the water. The ceiling was dropping. The temperature was...at freezing. The engine ices up, and all of a sudden as they’re flying along more than half way across the Channel there’s a loud noise, like a bang, like a backfire. The engine stops. The airplane turns nose down, and in eight seconds it’s in the water.

Wes: Just as simple as that.

Dennis: Yes. And that’s exactly what the United States Army Air Force has concluded three weeks after the accident.

WES: DENNIS DISCOVERED THE MILITARY HAD CONDUCTED A FULL ENQUIRY. IT CONVENED ON JANUARY 20TH 1945, AT THE REQUEST OF MAJOR GENERAL ORVIL ANDERSON THE DEPUTY COMMANDER OF THE EIGHTH AIRFORCE. THE INQUIRY CONCLUDED THAT MILLER’S AIRCRAFT HAD BEEN LOST DUE TO A LIKELY COMBINATION OF FACTORS: PILOT ERROR, BAD WEATHER AND POSSIBLE ENGINE PROBLEMS.

Wes: And how come this information never came out?

Dennis: The reason is the regulations of the Army Air Forces at the time.

WES: MILLER NEVER INFORMED HIS BOSS HE WAS TAKING AN UNAUTHORIZED FLIGHT. THAT HAD BEEN A MISTAKE AND SERIOUS BREACH OF PROTOCOL. BUT IRONICALLY, A REGULATION WRITTEN TO PROTECT FAMILIES; MEANT MILLER’S WIFE NEVER LEARNED EXACTLY WHAT THE MILITARY BELIEVED HAD HAPPENED.

Dennis: In a presumed fatal accident or where there was evidence, they did not send messages back to relatives, next of kin saying, Johnny or Freddy, your son, made a mistake, got lost, or killed himself. You have a perfect storm of human error, mechanical failure and weather. Not independent of one another. All three. And the plane goes down.

WES: Disappearance of Glenn Miller. What a story, right?

KAIAMA: Yeah but what a tragedy. Imagine, his wife, his children, they never saw him again.

TUKUFU: So what happened to Major, Glenn Miller? Do we finally have an answer?

KAIAMA: He was making propaganda we know that. But was he on a secret mission when he died somewhere behind enemy lines, that isn’t true.

WES: All of these conspiracy theories that have surfaced over the years are just hogwash.

TUKUFU: But the British theory about the accident being caused by friendly fire. Well that has a little more credibility.

WES: Look I'll give you that, but you know Nesbit is getting this testimony from these crew members 20, 30, how many years after the actual event took place. Why wait til now.

TUKUFU: Well this is the weak part of Nesbit’s theory.

WES: In think, it’s a cut and dried issue. Glenn Miller unwittingly gets onto a ticking time bomb.

He got onto a plane with a defective carburetor. He flew out over the English Channel in worsening weather conditions. The Carburetor froze up. The plane crashed into the English channel. End of Story.

KAIAMA: Yeah, but why would Glenn Miller have gotten on that plane?



WES: Glen Miller didn't know anything about a defective carburetor. What Glenn Miller knew was that he had he had an important concert, the first concert in liberated Paris. And he was going to play before these guys who had fought their way from the beaches of Normandy to liberate Paris.

KAIAMA: I think we come away with something else from this story, too, right? Right? A new appreciation for Glen Miller, not just as an artist, not just as a musician, but as a man who really gave his all for the war effort and like so many of the young men of that generation, he paid the ultimate price.

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