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The Glenn Miller Orchestra entertained servicemen and the public to maintain wartime morale – alongside the late Dame Vera Lynn. The US band performed more than 800 concerts in the UK during World War 2 and were due to fly overseas when their conductor and trombonist Glenn Miller vanished. He was on a plane destined for France, along with two others, which flew against military orders in horrific weather conditions. While the exact details that caused the plane to crash are unknown, historians have speculated how the aircraft could have met its final end.
More than three-quarters-of-a-century on from the mysterious disappearance of Miller, flight officer John Morgan and Lieutenant Colonel Norman Baessell – their final resting place may be known.
Ric Gillespie, of the group TIGHAR, who investigated the Amelia Earhart disappearance, believes a trawler pulled-up the doomed aircraft decades ago.
His team and Dennis Spragg, who authored the 2014 book ‘Glenn Miller Declassified’, suspect that the vessel may lie within a three-square-mile radius of the English Channel.
The fisherman, who did not want to be identified, was trawling the seabed for shrimp, red mullet and other creatures when his net got “snagged on something”.
After a while it became free of its trappings and pulled-up what appeared to be a “World War 2 plane”, which he described as “hanging off the back of the boat”.
The fisherman recalled the nose was facing upwards and he also observed landing gear, an engine and a wing with a white star – which appeared to match the plane Miller travelled on.
In a panic, he called the coastguard who told him to “cut it loose” and to get rid of the aircraft as quickly as possible in case it was a “war grave” which they did not want to disturb.
Fortunately the fisherman noted the coordinates of the vessel after he cut it loose – so that he didn’t “run into it again” – but it wasn’t until decades later that he realised it might have been linked to the Glenn Miller disappearance.
He produced a sketch of – which investigator Gillespie believes to be the real deal due to details about the plane that he , which were not known by the public.
Gillespie is now trying to fundraise $30,000 (£24,500) to investigate the three-square-miles he believes the plane could have travelled within.
He told Express.co.uk: “From what we have been able to determine with solid facts we can find no disqualifying details or reason to say that this could not have been the Miller aircraft.
“It was the only Norseman plane missing and unaccounted for and logically it has to be someplace in the Channel.”
What Gillespie does not know is the condition of the plane after it was submerged for at the very least a second time after the fisherman dropped it back into the sea.
When it was pulled up he noted that it was in a “surprisingly good condition” – which could have been caused by sand “protecting it from deterioration”.
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But after a second fall, the state of the wreckage is unknown and there may not be much left to help identify the aircraft.
But Gillespie is hopeful and wants to find the vessel – which he called a tragedy due to the three men’s decision to fly in risky conditions being based upon their hopes to help war efforts.
Miller wanted to reach France to plan their travel logistics; Colonel Baesell wanted to set-up a repairs base for bullet-damaged planes; and Pilot Morgan wanted to prove his worth so that he would be promoted to combat pilot.
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.
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