College of Music

University of Colorado Boulder

Suitts Family Donates Logbook To Glenn Miller Archive

February 13, 2014

Bill Suitts and Henry Holloway (2009)

Friday, January 31, 2014, on behalf of the Suitts Family, Melody S. Conway, daughter of the late William “Bill” Suitts, presented the Royal Canadian Air Force Navigator Logbook of P/O T. E. "Fred" Shaw to Alan Cass and Dennis Spragg for permanent preservation by the University of Colorado Boulder Glenn Miller Archive. Mr. Suitts purchased the logbook at auction from Sotheby’s and received worldwide acclaim.

Bill Suitts was a prominent and admired Colorado businessman, philanthropist and active member of the University of Colorado Boulder community. Bill was a key member of the American Music Research Center Advisory Board and the Glenn Miller Archive Honorary Advisory Group. 

Mr. Shaw was a South African native who went to navigation school in Canada and served in the 149 Squadron, No. 3 Group, Royal Air Force Bomber Command during World War II. Friday, December 15, 1944, Shaw and his fellow aircrew were aloft on their first combat mission from their aerodrome at Methwold, Norfolk to the target of Seigen, Germany, aboard Avro Lancaster NF-973. Their squadron was equipped with radar bombing equipment and the forecast weather over the target was overcast. Their fighter escort was grounded due to bad weather, The 149 Squadron bombers were already in the air when they received a recall message. They and other No. 3 Group Lancasters returned to their aerodromes. Along the way the bombers were required to jettison bombs to shed weight for landing. They headed for designated bomb jettison areas in the North Sea and English Channel to accomplish this task. Fred Shaw recalled when NF973 made their jettison over the English Channel, a small plane resembling a Noorduyn C-64 “Norseman” passed underneath them and tumbled into the water because of the concussions from the jettisoned bombs. Years later, Shaw and others, including two members of his aircrew, connected the incident with the disappearance the same day of U. S. Eighth Air Force C-64 44-70285 with the famous Maj. Glenn Miller aboard as a passenger. Fred Shaw came to international attention through the efforts of fellow South African and legendary broadcaster Henry Holloway, himself a friend of Bill Suitts and fellow Glenn Miller Archive donor and advisor.

The Glenn Miller Archive welcomes the opportunity to preserve this important historic artifact as well as other materials contained in the William Suitts Collection. Bill was our friend and mentor and we are humbled to be entrusted with this important part of his legacy.

The events of December 15, 1944 are comprehensively detailed in the book “Resolved: The Disappearance of Glenn Miller, December 15, 1944” by Dennis M. Spragg, which will be published in 2014.

About The Glenn Miller Archive

The Glenn Miller Archive (GMA) of the American Music Research Center at the University of Colorado Boulder is the designated repository for the legacy of Alton Glenn Miller, American icon and popular musician. The GMA is one of the most important big band and popular music centers in the world, containing many dozens of collections entrusted with the GMA for preservation, restoration and communication. The objective of the GMA is to be a dynamic resource for scholars, students and the public where 20th Century American Musical History is honored and presented for education and enjoyment. Many thousands of hours of audio recordings from radio broadcasts, recordings and transcriptions are preserved by the GMA. The personal property, documents, correspondence and papers of numerous artists, producers, journalists and collectors; many periodicals, thousands of photographs and other memorabilia are located in the archive. The GMA is a national treasure. Every popular American recording and radio artist is represented in the archive.