Ever since bandleader Glenn Miller’s military aircraft disappeared on a flight from England to France on 15 December 1944, theories about his- fate have abounded. It is a mystery which today still intrigues millions of music lovers all over the world.
Miller was 40 and at the peak of his career when he vanished. His unique big-band sound had made huge hits of numbers like ‘In the Mood’, ‘Moonlight Serenade’, ‘American Patrol’ and ‘String of Pearls’. Their popularity swept the world, and the band was soon earning more than £1 million a year.
America’s entry into the war led to Miller’s enlistment as a captain and then his promotion to major, leading the United States Air Force Band in Europe. It was in this role that he was to visit Paris to prepare a Christmas broadcast – although such an arrangement would normally have been taken care of by the band’s manager.
Despite fog warnings, Miller took off in a single-engine Norseman D-64 aircraft from Twinwoods airfield, Bedfordshire. With him were the pilot and another American officer. The aircraft and its occupants have never seen again. Despite repeated searches, no bodies or wreckage were found.
The most widely accepted theory at the time was that the light aircraft iced up and dived into the English Channel, drowning those trapped inside. Many people, however, refuse to accept this official and seemingly logical conclusion, and as the name and music of Glenn Miller has continued to live on in the world, his disappearance has become the subject of various strange theories. One of the more recent and most startling claims has come from the most dedicated Miller fan Of all time. English businessman and former RAF pilot John Edwards has devoted more than 12 years and about £10,000 in attempts to solve the Miller mystery. One of his claims is that Miller was not aboard the Norseman aircraft when it crashed. He says he has evidence that the band leader was murdered in Paris three days after the plane disappeared. He believes that Miller, known to be a womanizer, died of a fractured skull in the Pigalle, then the haunt of Paris prostitutes and criminals. Authorities covered up this scandal by claiming that Miller was on board the lost aircraft. If Edwards has spoken to a man who claims he saw Miller land safely in the- ill-fated Norseman after making only a short flight to an airfield at Bovingdon, Hertfordshire. The band leader then switched to a Dakota and took off again.
The Dakota reached Paris safely,
Edwards also supports his theory of an official cover-up by pointing to the lack of a full inquiry. He said: I have met great difficulty in trying to solve this mystery. Records have been reported burned. Other information, like the aircrew report, is unaccountably vague. Even the weather conditions were’ listed as unknown.
‘But pieces of information I collected over the years eventually all fell into place. I have evidence that an American military doctor in Paris signed Miller’s death certificate. A retired US Air Force lieutenant-colonel recalls being told by the provost marshal’s police officers in Paris that Miller had been Major Glenn Miller giving a US private some tips.
murdered. And I know a man in Miller’s band who stated that it was common knowledge to those close to him that his boss was murdered in Paris.’
In an eerie séance session at the now-derelict Twinwoods airfield, an English medium, Carmen Rogers, claimed that she was able to look into the past and see what happened to Miller.
T could see him walking to the aircraft with two other men,’ she said. ‘Miller was disturbed and worried about his domestic and other affairs. He did not want to make the trip to Paris. He felt sick and afraid. After they took off, Miller asked the pilot to land. The pilot put down as soon as possible, and let Miller get out. The aircraft touched down on the Essex side of the Thames estuary. Then Miller got out and made a phone call to London and arranged his own disappearance.’
Countless other theories about Miller’s fate have been put forward over the years. He was a spy on a top-secret mission which went wrong. He was so terribly mutilated in the aircraft crash that he preferred to live in secret. He was an amnesia victim. He was mistakenly shot down by a British fighter over the Channel . . . and so on.
Various wrecked wartime aircraft have been discovered in the Channel, each prompting the hope that here, at last, was the Norseman that could provide the answers to the Miller mystery. But the plane has never been discovered.
So the death of the man who set the world humming to his big-band hits remains shrouded in controversy. But for some people, the attempt to solve the riddle has a special incentive. It is thought that when the band leader left England he took with him a briefcase containing the original scores of Glenn Miller music that had never been played. Anyone finding them intact would certainly strike it rich.