The Glenn Miller Orchestra were a much beloved part of the national efforts to maintain morale during World War 2. During the American big band’s tour of military bases they performed more than 800 times on British soil. But the lead musician mysteriously vanished several months before Victory in Europe Day, which celebrates its 75th anniversary today. Glenn Miller was travelling to France when the plane he was aboard suddenly disappeared. While search efforts were carried out, the final resting place of the performer still remains unknown. One historical investigator Ric Gillespie recounted details about the decision leading up to his death. He told Express.co.uk that behind the bandleader and two others’ demise, was an honourable commitment to beat the Nazi regime no matter the cost.
While the bodies of Glenn Miller, flight officer John Morgan and Lieutenant Colonel Norman Baessell have never been discovered, investigator Ric Gillespie has a hunch about where they were laid to rest.
Their plane, a C-64 Norseman, disappeared on December 15, 1944, as they travelled across the English Channel from the UK to France, amid a dreadful storm that likely led to their deaths.
The group disregarded concern for their own wellbeing and flew 300ft below the ceiling of cloud, which was being spiked with ice from frozen drizzle.
What caused their aircraft to vanish is not known, but a number of theories have since emerged including that they were killed by friendly fire.
That belief along with many others have been debunked by Mr Gillespie and his mystery-busting team The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR).
Mr Gillespie described the mission to transport the three travellers as “entirely illegal, unauthorised, unnecessary and tragic”, during an interview with Express.co.uk.
He cast doubt on the popular belief that the plane was “knocked out of the air” when Allied fighter planes returned from an aborted bombing mission and dropped their explosives over the English Channel.
The claims emerged from the account of RAF pilot Fred Shaw who in 1984 alleged to have seen an explosion that took out a small aircraft below his plane.
But Mr Gillespie stated: “It’s not true, we were able to completely debunk that.”
Among the many discrepancies with actual accounts, he listed that the bombs had been “defused” before they were jettisoned into the water so “would not have exploded”.
He also claims the accounts told four decades on from the disappearance of Glenn Miller unfortunately did not align with the actual timeline of events on that day because they were “at least an hour and a half out”.
Mr Gillespie spent two years researching the Glenn Miller disappearance with TIGHAR – perusing through records, logs and even visiting the UK to unearth the truth about what happened.
He believes accounts from a fisherman who claimed to have retrieved an aircraft from the bottom of the Channel back in June 1986 or 1987, after his trawler nets became caught.
The unnamed seaman “to his astonishment” pulled out a plane with its “nose facing upwards, landing gear, an engine and a wing that had a white star” which matched the description of Miller’s plane.
JUST IN: Dame Vera Lynn’s horrifying near-death experiences during WW2 revealed
He called the coastguard to report that he had “hauled up what looked like an American aircraft from World War 2”.
Mr Gillespie said that when asked what to do with the plane he was informed: “It may be a war grave, you shouldn’t disturb it. Get rid of it. Cut it loose and let go of it.”
Since obtaining maps of the Channel, Mr Gillespie believes the aircraft lies within a three square mile radius – which he is fundraising $30,000 (£24,500) to investigate.
In the past, Express.co.uk reported how the historian believed he had solved the Amelia Earhart mystery after she vanished during a round-the-world trip in 1937.
His team deduced details about her tragic demise, how anti-freckle cream revealed her final resting place and why Britain could have ended the search decades before.
With the Glenn Miller mystery, he believes there could be a renewed interest in the search because of the 75th Anniversary of VE Day celebrations – and the heartache many felt about the musician’s death.
Dame Vera Lynn: Shock BBC snub nearly killed wartime singer’s career [EXPOSED]
Dame Vera Lynn: VE Day singer’s brutal threat to burglars revealed [UNEARTHED]
VE Day: ‘Forces Sweetheart’ Vera Lynn revealed in unearthed WW2 photos [REVEALED]
He told Express.co.uk: “There was this feeling of, what a shame it was that Glen Miller didn’t get to see the end of the war, it was a real shame that he didn’t live that long.”
Mr Gillespie explained that each person aboard the ill-fated flight on December 15, 1944, had a different motive for putting their lives at risk.
Glenn Miller and his orchestra were scheduled to play concerts for the troops in France after a lengthy tour of the UK.
At that point they “desperately wanted to get closer to the frontline” to make even more of an impact to raise morale during the war.
The bandleader was due to fly-out ahead of the others to solve accommodation, logistical and organisational tasks before they all arrived.
When his official flight was cancelled due to “extremely dangerous weather conditions”, he was invited aboard another trip that was going to take place against military orders.
Lt Col Norman Baessell, who coordinated the flight, was desperate to get to France due to being charged with setting up repair and maintenance facilities on the continent.
Mr Gillespie said: “When aircrafts came back and needed a place to land after being shot-up, his work would ensure they didn’t have to fly over the Channel to get back over to the UK.”
He explained that Mr Baessell had “usurped authorities” for a while to ensure he could get wartime tasks done without being reprimanded, so once again commissioned the flight.
As for the pilot John Morgan, he longed to join the ranks of fighter plane pilots and make his contribution to wartime efforts, but at the time was trapped in a lower position.
Mr Gillespie said: “He was basically a limousine driver, he had been carrying things around, delivering people, items and equipment.
“He wanted to be a combat pilot and be promoted up, so this was his ticket to get a more desirable flying job and also he was unlikely to deny an order from his superior.”
Mr Gillespie explained that it was a “classic case of pleasing the boss, even if it meant breaking the law” – a problem which he says has landed countless corporate pilots “in trouble”.
He concluded that it is difficult to judge the group because they were “so committed” to the wartime cause they were willing to “bend the rules” – despite it leading to their tragic deaths.
Mr Gillespie told Express.co.uk: “Both Miller and Baessell were so dedicated to doing their job they were tasked with – to win the war – that they thought let’s just do it anyway.
“The pilot was saying I really want to have a more significant role in this war and to show that I need to do the job even if it means bending the rules.
“Each one had their own motivations and you can’t say they were terrible – they all made that journey and it was a tragedy.”
For more information on the Glenn Miller mystery or to donate to the research investigation visit: www.tighar.org.
Source: Read Full Article