The Glenn Miller Story to show again to raise money for Wymondham Abbey

Film star and USAAF war hero James Stewart on the control tower at either Tibbenham or Old Buckenham

Film star and USAAF war hero James Stewart on the control tower at either Tibbenham or Old Buckenham. - Credit: Archant

A classic film about a man who played his music in Norfolk, portrayed by an actor who served his country with distinction in the county, will be shown on Sunday to raise money for glorious Wymondham Abbey.

A still from the film 'The Glenn Miller Story', starring James Stewart.

A still from the film 'The Glenn Miller Story', starring James Stewart. - Credit: Archant

James Stewart was an inspirational choice for the title role in The Glenn Miller Story made 60 years ago. He had seen Glenn Miller and his American Band of the Allied Expeditionary Force perform at Attlebridge, home of the 466th Bomb Group, and at Tibenham, where the 445th BG were based, and it helped him to bring the character to life with a delightful performance.

Now the movie, which seems to get better as time marches on, will be shown again. This time at the Wymondham Ex-Services Club (the old Regal) by the Regal Experience and money raised goes towards the abbey development appeal.

The film charts the rise of Miller from relative obscurity to world famous big band leader and untimely death. Louis Armstrong and singer actress Frances Langford, who toured US bases with Bob Hope during the war, play themselves.

The authentic Miller sound is successfully recreated and all the band's greatest hits feature – from In The Mood and Moonlight Serenade to Chattanooga ChooChoo and American Patrol.

Glenn Miller, with trombone, at Attlebridge.

Glenn Miller, with trombone, at Attlebridge. - Credit: Archant

Between August 18 and September 1 1944, besides playing at Attlebridge and Tibenham, the band gave concerts in Norfolk at airbases in Hardwick, Thorpe Abbots and Wendling. There have also been reports of them playing at Chapelfield Gardens and at the Samson & Hercules in Norwich and that Miller himself tickled the ivories at the old King George V pub on the southern outskirts of the city.

What we know for sure is that the concerts he performed in hangars at the airbases attracted audiences of up to 10,000 with airmen being bussed in from other camps.

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Jimmy Stewart was already a household name before he joined up and arrived in Norfolk during 1943, first at Tibenham and then at Old Buckenham where, as Major James Stewart he was appointed Operations Officer.

Another move took him to Ketteringham Hall as Lt Col Stewart, Chief of Staff of the 2nd Combat Wing of the US 8th Army Air Force. In his flying career he clocked up 20 missions and was awarded various decorations.

Jimmy was one of the lucky ones. He returned home, unlike Miller and thousands of other airmen who gave their lives for our freedom.

The man they called the 'Tall Drawl' went back to Hollywood to become a superstar and one of the best loved actors in the world but he never forgot his wartime service in Norfolk returning several times and he also helped to set up the American Memorial Library now housed at the Forum in Norwich.

The short supporting film on Sunday will be Winning Your Wings, a US Air Force documentary, made in 1942 and aimed at recruiting more officers. It is narrated by Jimmy and there will be a display about his life and times. Curtain up at 2.30pm.

• Tickets are available from Michael Armstrong (01953 603246) or Maureen Dodman (01953 605593) and at Simply Cards, Wymondham. They are £5 (£4 concessions). • After the films there is an optional vintage tea for another £5.

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