Segments in this Video

The Disappearance of Glenn Miller: Introduction (04:48)


On Christmas Eve 1944, the army announced Glenn Miller's was missing. Here several theories about his disappearance.

Traveling to England (03:54)

In 1938, Miller volunteered for military service and played for hundreds of thousands of GIs. Tukufu Zuberi visits Twinwood Farm airfield in Great Britain and meets John Miller, Miller's nephew. Helen Miller wrote to the army air force asking for additional information, but the army insisted his plane disappeared.

Retracing Miller's Steps (02:35)

Lt. Colonel Norman Baesell offered the band leader a ride to Paris to perform for the troops who fought at Normandy. Miller, afraid of flying, commented on the inclement weather; he, Baesell, and John Morgan took off and headed in the direction of the British Channel.

The Friendly Fire Theory (04:42)

Wes Cowan discovers an article written about Fred H. Shaw, the navigator who claimed he may have seen Miller's plane hit by Lancaster bombs. Zuberi meets Roy Nesbit, an aviation historian on the theory. Watch a video of Shaw being interviewed about the event.

Going Public (03:38)

Shaw realized that Miller was in the Norseman after watching "The Glenn Miller Story." Nesbit calculated that the Lancaster and the monoplane would have been flying over the Jettison zone at 2:42 PM and believes friendly fire caused the Norseman to plunge into the sea.

Another Report (04:33)

Zuberi worries that Shaw did not report the friendly fire incident immediately, but feels Nesbit's calculations are correct. Richard Anderton describes a Norseman flying over a different location. Cowan grows critical of the theory.

More Than a Bandleader? (04:05)

Josephine Baker carried messages into German occupied North Africa during the war. David Niven joined the Phantom unit and later became close friends with Miller. Miller created recordings for the Wehrmacht.

Meeting Historian David Fowler (03:55)

In 1944, Bedford contained a lot of sound stages and covert military activity training. Niven worked as the liaison between the BBC, the military, and the Miller band. David Fowler explains that Niven made no mention of the town or Miller in his autobiography, but was responsible for getting the band evacuated from London.

Niven Involved in German LP's? (03:42)

Fowler refers Zuberi to Les Back, a historian on propaganda. The Nazi's branded the Swing Kids as subversive and degenerate and sent them to concentration camps.

Propaganda Not Responsible for Miller's Death (04:06)

Cowan meets Ed Polic at the Glen Miller archives. Pilot John Morgan was not certified for night flying, Baesell overrode the military's decision that they could not land in Paris. The Lt. Colonel and Miller argued over flying, but Miller capitulated.

Delay Explained (02:56)

Army officials did not know Miller was on the plane; when the band arrived three days later, they expected Miller was already there. The Battle of the Bulge began the day after the plane took off. Polic and Cowan discuss the various conspiracy theories.

Plane Mechanics (04:33)

Kaiama Glover looks up other Norseman planes that crashed due to winter weather. Steve Wall explains the monoplane was susceptible to icing and Morgan was inexperienced.

Carburetor Icing Issues (06:36)

Dennis Spragg explains how Baesell's decision to ignore orders made flying difficult. Miller could have flown directly into a cold weather front and the Norseman had a defective carburetor. General Orville Anderson determined that the plane was lost due to pilot error, bad weather, and possible engine problems.

Credits: Episode 2: The Disappearance of Glenn Miller (00:30)

Credits: Episode 2: The Disappearance of Glenn Miller

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Episode 2: The Disappearance of Glenn Miller

Part of the Series : History Detectives: Special Investigations
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



One of the most celebrated, beloved entertainers of the wartime era takes off from England in heavy fog, heading to France to entertain troops. His plane vanishes. Glenn Miller’s disappearance is perhaps the biggest mystery and cold case of World War II. This History Detectives investigation contains a great deal of new information: Miller’s pilot was a rank novice who had never flown over the English Channel, never mind in appalling weather; documents from a Lancaster bomber pilot support another possible accounting of the plane’s disappearance; and a 17-year old plane spotter’s notebook — discovered in 2012 at a UK Antiques Roadshow — answers a question that has long baffled investigators: which route did Miller’s aircraft take? In addition, the German-speaking Miller was working for the U.S. Army’s Psychological Warfare Division, recording German language propaganda broadcasts and musical performances.

Length: 55 minutes

Item#: BVL131280

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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