Glenn Miller and the American Band of the Allied Expeditionary Forces’ Propaganda Broadcasts

gmiller1The Marr Sound Archives holds two albums from the uncommon broadcast recordings of Major Glenn Miller and the American Band of the Allied Expeditionary Forces. These two albums are compilations of recordings over the American Broadcasting Station in Europe, EMI Studio, St. John’s Wood, Abbey Road, London England and are simply titled “Major Glenn Miller and the A.E.F. Orchestra.”

Miller was fulfilling a request by the Office of War Information to broadcast the orchestra’s performance under his direction to the German military and German prisoners of war. The propaganda broadcasts were intended to show Germans that the Allies wanted inclusion of all countries in the quest for peace and that American music and life among the Allies was lively, lovely, and upbeat.

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Glenn Miller and “Ilse Weinberger” at an ABSIE microphone, London, England, 30 October, 1944. Photo courtesy: The Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band: I Sustain the Wings: Volumes 1 and 2 by Edward F. Polic.

German “Ilse Weinberger” serves as announcer with Glenn Miller, at times, answering her in pretty bad German, but mostly speaking in English between the performances of 13 works. It is also significant that the A.E.F. Orchestra performs the “Song of the Volga Boatmen” in order to drive home the point that the Russians are now allied with America and Europe against the Germans.

According to Glenn Miller experts, these two LP’s were bootlegged by Joseph Krug of the Colony Record Shop in New York City when doing business as the A.F.N. Record Company around 1949. His efforts were quickly shut down by the Miller estate. The details of the case can be found here.

The A.F.N. was intentionally meant to confuse the patron into thinking that the Air Force Network had published these. Even though few of these albums exist, Marr has had one copy of each of the two volumes gifted to their collection.

These recordings of Glenn Miller’s cooperation with the propaganda offices of Allied Forces during WWII are hard to come by but worth the listen. Unfortunately, Glenn Miller died 39 days after the recording of these broadcasts and therefore makes them precious items.

These particular broadcasts were recorded October 30th and November 6th, 1944 and aired November 8th and November 15th respectively. There isn’t much remarked on the containers about the band except that Sergeant Johnny Desmond and Sergeant Ray McKinley sing solos on “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby” (McKinley) and “Now I Know” and “My Heart Tells Me” (Desmond).

Although the band members are not listed on the albums’ containers, a resource in the Marr Sound Archives entitled “The Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band: I Sustain the Wings: Volumes 1 and 2” by Edward F. Polic clearly lays out who played in the orchestra at the time of these broadcasts. These reference resource books are exciting because of their details of discographies, scripts, personnel, and Glenn Miller’s life.

Contributed by Vicki Kirby, Library Information Specialist II and Special Formats Cataloger

9 thoughts on “Glenn Miller and the American Band of the Allied Expeditionary Forces’ Propaganda Broadcasts

  1. Hello,

    Thanks for an excellent article. I am a researcher trying to identify if trumpeter Pfc. Clarence Zylman was part of Glenn Miller’s band during the war. I would appreciate any and all information pertaining to WW II Pfc. Clarence Zylman

    • Thank you for your inquiry about whether Clarence Zylman was one of the personnel in the military service bands under Glenn Miller’s leadership.

      I researched two reference items:

      “In the Miller Mood: a history and discography of the Glenn Miller service band, 1942-1945” by Chris Way
      “The Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band: I Sustain the Wings” Volumes one and two by Edward F. Polic

      Both of these references supply complete transcripts, recording dates, broadcasting dates, personnel, side personnel, special guests, locations and set lists for recordings and broadcasts Glenn Miller was involved in while he was serving in the military. Unfortunately, Clarence Zylman’s name is not mentioned in any category in these two references.

      Good luck in your search for Clarence Zylman’s history of musicianship while he served in the military. If I can be of any other assistance, please feel free to contact me.

      Sincerely,
      Vicki Kirby
      Library Information Specialists Sr.
      UMKC Libraries
      816-235-5292
      kirbyv@umkc.edu

    • Hi Kurt, Please see additional replies below about the Glenn Miller Collection at the University of Colorado. Possibly they can help you in your research regarding Clarence Zylman.

      Vicki Kirby

  2. are these recordings available now, i have some on a cassette, from some ones collection . We are The Sound Preservation Association of Tasmania. see our facebook site . .Lindsay McCarthy….president

  3. I listened to one of the songs and don’t believe the Ilse Weinberger is German. She has a slight American accent on words that are basic and easy to pronounce properly. It does not sound like her native language. But her pronounciation is not totally off. She may have lived in a German speaking country some years before the war. That’s my guess.

    • I have a part of one program, I wonder anything else available.
      I am Lindsay McCarthy, president of thr Sound Preservation Association of Tasmania.

    • Research by the Glenn Miller Archives at the University of Colorado indicates that “Ilse Weinberger” was a stage name used to protect the real identities of various announcers. This of course was necessary to reduce the chance of reprisals against any family members who might be in Germany. In particular the “Ilse” who announced these broadcasts was a woman named Carol Wagner, so based on her name it’s possible she was an American of German descent.

  4. A further update: I would very highly recommend contacting the University of Colorado archives for further information, answers to questions, etc. They are the primary repository of documentation, recordings, and artifacts related to Glenn Miller’s life and legacy. The GMA houses primary-source material that can be relied on for factual history. It also can connect researchers with world-class collectors and historians such as the aforementioned Ed Polic, Dennis Spragg (author of “Glenn Miller Declassified” that examines the circumstances surrounding his loss in WWII), and numerous musicians who have worked to preserve the Miller Sound.

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