The time...December, 1944.
. The place...Twinwood Farm Air Field, Bedford, England.
. My father, Liaison Officer to France at the
time, was scheduled to board a ''Norseman''
UC-64A, ten-place, single-engine utility
transport aircraft manufactured by Noorduyn
Aviation, Ltd., Montreal, Canada.
. But then fate stepped in...
. Similar to the craft pictured at right >
. The morning at Twinwood Farm Air Field, Bedford, was wet and foggy and cold. Forty miles NNW from
London, England, many flights had been grounded by fog, cold rain and ''weather'' for days before.
. My father needed to reach ''the Continent'' and Paris, France, but could not.
. The night before, (on 14 December) at an Officers Mess at Milton Ernest, near
Northampton, England, Lt. Col. Norman Baessell told Glenn Miller that he was
flying to Paris the next morning (15 December). Lt. Col. Baessell told Glenn Miller
that he was welcomed to join him on the flight. Glenn Miller accepted.
. Don Haynes, Glenn Miller and Lt. Col. Baessell had dinner that night and then
played poker with a couple of other officers.
. The next morning the fog was forecast to lift around mid-day, so early that
morning, they drove the several miles to the Air Field to wait for their flight.
. Glenn Miller made the comment that ''...even the birds are grounded!''.
. Later, there was the sound of an approaching aircraft in the fog. The plane was heard to fly over
the field, turned and then suddenly appeared through the fog. Flight Officer John Morgan circled
the field once more before landing.
. Don Haynes, Glenn Miller and Lt. Col. Baessell left the control tower and drove out to the plane
where Flight Officer John Morgan apologised for being late. Glenn Miller boarded the aircraft and
was heard to say...''Where the hell are the parachutes?'' To which Col. Baessell replied...''What's a
matter with you Miller, do you want to live forever?''
. At 1:55 PM, 15 December, 1944, Don Haynes watched the ''Norseman'' rev it's engines, gather
speed and lift off to vanish into the low clouds and into the history books of WWII.
Twinwood Farm Tower (1999)
. British Standard Time was one hour ahead of GMT.
Calculating with that time difference and a slight course
misjudgement, may have put Miller's flight into the ''South
Jettison Area'' at the same time and place where a squadron of
British Lancaster bombers were returning from an aborted
bombing run over Siegen, Germany. Dumping load's of 4,000
lb. ''Block-buster'' and other bombs, many Lancaster's carried
8,000 pounds worth of 4 lb. incendiaries, of which, over 100,000
incendiaries were being dumped that morning so the returning
aircraft could safely land in England.
. RAF pilot Victor Gregory's Lancaster had a crewman report
he saw a high-winged aircraft flip over and dive into the sea
below as the Lancaster's jettisoned their bombs.
. Around 1999, a logbook belonging to the late Fred Shaw, a Royal Air Force navigator, was
being sold at auction along with a letter from the British Ministry of Defence. -
. ''Ops. Siegen Canceled. Jettison Southern Area''. (logbook of Fred Shaw).
Several newspaper clippings and other material bolstered Fred Shaw's claim, as bombs were being
jettisoned that day, that Shaw remembered seeing a small plane spiraling out of control after the
bombs were dropped.
''Around it, I could see the sea bubbling and blistering with the exploding bombs. As
each bomb burst, I could see the blast wave from it radiating outwards...It was obvious
to me that the airplane below was in trouble.''
''Eventually, I saw it disappear into the English Channel!'' (Fred Shaw)
Everyone aboard the plane was killed that day and the ''official'' (accepted) story at the time was
that the aircraft experienced ''icing'' and that caused it to crash into the English Channel.
. My father caught a later plane to Paris, France, but
Glenn Miller and his music were lost forever!
. If Glenn Miller had never met Lt. Col. Baessell and
never accepted the invitation offered, my father might
never had been ''bumped'' off that plane that fateful
morning. It would have been my father, not Glenn Miller,
with the others at the bottom of the English Channel.
. My mother and father were married only days later on
1 January, 1945 in London, England. Life was too short!
. Fortunately, World War II was nearly over!
|''If I had known I was going to
survive the war, I would have
had a marvelous time!''
|Mom told me that: ''During the ''Blitz'' and even later, I wouldn't dare
go down into the ''tubes'' during a ''bombing''. I spent my time with
my friends, in the pubs!''
''I wore a Wardens arm badge and afterwards had to pull arms
and legs from overhead wires and tree branches that
had been blown off people who didn't make it!''
A ''Lanc'' dropping incendiaries
Twinwood Farm Air Field, England.
|''I didn't like the war much, but it
needed to be fought.''
''I see the next big war probably
coming out of the Middle East!''
Twinwood Farm Tower today (restored)
Identified from left to right: April, 1944 -
Sergeant George Knott, RAF Flight Engineer
Sgt Leo Armstrong, RAAF, Navigator
Flying Officer Jack Critchley, RAAF, Pilot
unidentified ground crew
Pilot Officer Roy Samson, RAAF, Wireless
Squadron Administrative Officer
Sgt Fred Shaw, RAF, Rear Gunner
unidentified Womens' Auxiliary Air Force Sgt
Sgt Wilf Starkey, RAF, Mid Upper Gunner
The aircraft is now part of the National
Collection at the Australian War Memorial.
The Avro Lancaster bomber 'G' for George, AR-G (W4783),
460 Squadron, RAAF, and crew members who flew the
aircraft on its last operation. 'G' George flew its first
bombing operation over Mannheim, Germany, on 6
December 1942 and its last operation against Cologne,
Germany, on 20 April 1944. The bomb log is visible
underneath the cockpit showing 90 completed operations
(however the aircraft's log book only records 89).