Glenn Miller Memorial at King's Cliffe – Northamptonshire, England - Atlas Obscura

Northamptonshire, England

Glenn Miller Memorial at King's Cliffe

This World War II airfield is the last place the bandleader performed before he disappeared. 

Two memorials can be found at this former airfield near Peterborough, England. One commemorates the fallen British, Commonwealth, Belgian, and American soldiers who flew from this fighter base during the Second World War. The other, more unusually, marks it as the place where Glenn Miller gave his last airfield concert before he disappeared.

King’s Cliffe Airfield was a World War II Royal Air Force and U.S. Air Force fighter airfield with an impressive record. It was also the spot where Major Glenn Miller and his band put on a “hanger concert” in October 1944, their last public performance before the jazz musician disappeared on a cross-channel flight that year. The Glenn Miller memorial, an engraved metal plaque on a pyramid topping a stone plinth, is located on the concrete slab base of one of the former hangars.

The airfield, in its final form, with concrete runways, was completed just a year prior, in 1943. It housed, among other units, the 20th fighter group that became known as the “Loco Group” because of the 400 railway locomotives they destroyed in their ground attack role. King’s Cliffe was the most northerly and most westerly fighter airfield used operationally during the war. It was designated station 367 by the American forces. Prior to the American takeover it had, since 1939, housed British, Commonwealth, and Belgian piloted Spitfires flying from grass strips. One of the most famous pilots who used the airfield was RAF ace Johnnie Johnson, who was credited with 34 individual victories.

Little is left of the airfield apart from the concrete runways and a few buildings (including the former cinema, the chapel, and some pillboxes). In addition to the Glenn Miller memorial is an unusually shaped war memorial to the fallen, of all countries, who served at King’s Cliffe. This memorial is asymmetric and takes the form of two schematic aircraft sections joined by a black polished stone plaque. The right-hand aircraft has the distinctive wing of an RAF Spitfire and the left-hand one the laminar flow wing of a U.S. Air Force Mustang. Perhaps coincidentally, the overall shape is also reminiscent of the twin-engine arrangement of the Lockheed Lightning, which also flew from King’s Cliffe.

Know Before You Go

The Royal Air Force King's Cliffe or RAF King's Cliffe airfield is on an unnamed road just off of King's Cliffe Road, about 12 miles west of Peterborough in Cambridgeshire.

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