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CLAPHAM is a large village in North East Bedfordshire and lies on the outskirts of the town of Bedford. The A6 road formerly passed through the town, but a bypass, named after athlete Paula Radcliffe who attended nearby Sharnbrook Upper School, was opened on 12 December 2002.

Twinwood is a disused airfield on the western outskirts of Clapham. The presently grassed field was associated with nearby Twinwood Farm and was in use during the early stages of WWII as a landing ground for Oxfords or Cranfields SFTS until August 1941.

By April 1942 it had three concrete runways and additional temporary buildings. From then until the end of the war it was used by the Blenheims, Beaufighters, Beauforts and Mosquitos of No 51 Operational Training Unit.

Twinwood established an association with Glen Miller and his American Band of the Supreme Allied Command. The band was based in Bedford in early July 1944 and it used the airfield on a couple of occasions during the course of their exhausting tours in UK.

The airfield closed in June 1945. Although the site returned to farming it has also become a mecca for Glen Miller enthusiasts.

Much of the information provided above and below was obtained from the charitable ex-service organisation, "Roll of Honour" and "Twinwood Events" to whom due acknowledgement is given here.
See also more information about Glenn Miller, together with his autograph, by clicking here.

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During WWII Glenn Miller was based at Milton Ernest Hall which is a mile or so from The Twinwood Arena and airfield. It was at the Hall that Glenn gave performances with his orchestra. In Bedford they played at the Corn Exchange situated in the market square Glenn turned the Co-Partners Hall near the gasworks in Bedford into his radio station and here the bulk of his recording and broadcasting was done accompanied by many famous stars such as Bing Crosby and Bob Hope.

On August 27th 1944 at RAF Twinwood Airfield Glenn Miller performed a concert for the aircrews using two trailers as a stage next to Twinwood control tower. It was at the control tower that Glenn Miller was last seen alive on a bleak day on 15 December 1944. From here he flew to his death with two others in a Norseman - a small single engine aircraft - en route to Paris to meet his orchestra. It was a cold, rainy and foggy afternoon and Glen Miller said to the band's manager, Lt Don Hayes, as he was boarding the aircraft, "Haynsie, even the birds are grounded today". The aircraft took off at 1.55pm and was never seen again.

In 2001 Twinwood Events took on the task of transforming the control tower back to its original condition (above). On June 2nd 2002, the newly restored and refurbished Control Tower was opened to the public by Beryl Davis, Glenn's wartime singer. To celebrate this event a Glenn Miller Concert was held, and this was the forerunner of the annual Glenn Miller Festival.

Over the years thousands of people have visited the Control Tower to pay homage to this legendary musician and band leader and it has become a visible memorial for his fans from around the world. It has become the focal point of the Glenn Miller Festival which is held over the three days of each August Bank Holiday.

A comprehensive description, with photographs and an autograph, of Glenn Miller's activities in the Bedford area during WWII may be found in the 'Travelling Days' series by clicking here.

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A view across the old airfield runway towards the RAE establishment at Thurleigh (left)

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