Give Now

Night Lights Classic Jazz

Glenn Miller Goes To War With The Army Air Force Band

Major Glenn Miller went missing over the English Channel in December 1944. For decades afterwards, much of his wartime orchestra's music went missing as well.

A swinging big band, a modern-jazz small group, a ballads singer, an orchestra with strings--the Miller Army Air Force Band could do it all.

It was one of the greatest jazz orchestras ever assembled, led by a popular bandleader who took it overseas to raise the morale of the Allied soldiers fighting World War II in Europe–and who then vanished at the height of his popularity.

Glenn Miller Goes To War With The Army Air Force Band” features interviews with AAF band member Nat Peck (who signed on with Miller’s military ensemble in 1943 at the age of 19), historian Michael McGerr, and the music of the AAF in all of its configurations: ballads with singer Johnny Desmond, uptempo swing numbers featuring the big band, easy-listening with-strings recordings, a modern-jazz small group side with pianist Mel Powell, and a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with Bing Crosby in England in August 1944. Much of this music was heard only on the radio during the war and is far less familiar than that of Miller’s pre-war civilian big band.

We’ll also hear some historic broadcasts–Miller signing off on his last Chesterfield show before joining the military, the last stateside program by the AAF before leaving for Europe, and a moving Christmas Day 1944 broadcast from Paris, just hours after Miller had been reported missing.

More About Glenn Miller And The Army Air Force Orchestra

Watch video footage from July 1944 of the AAF at a military parade in England:

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Night Lights Classic Jazz:

Support For Indiana Public Media From

About Night Lights

Search Night Lights

where to hear night lights

This Week On Afterglow

Doris Day, Jazz Singer

We remember Doris Day, who passed away last month at age 97, and her work singing jazz with Les Brown, Andre Previn and more.

Read more »

Afterglow is WFIU's weekly program of jazz and American popular song hosted by David Brent Johnson.

More from Afterglow »