Today in History, April 2, 1942:
In Hollywood, California, Glenn Miller and his Orchestra record their version of “American Patrol.” The tune was originally written in 1885 by F. W. Meacham, but Miller’s orchestra would add swing and jazz to the already inspiring instrumental.
This would make it representative and nearly synonymous with the jaunty, cock-sure attitude of American servicemen fighting World War II in multiple theaters. Miller and his band would entertain the troops with this and other hits in live shows until his death on December 15, 1944, when he would be lost while flying to France for a performance. Think of the most popular entertainer you can, and they would pale in comparison to Glenn Miller in the late thirties and early forties. Major Miller’s loss was felt.
It is important to remember what was occurring in April of 1942. The attack on Pearl Harbor was only five months in the past, American troops at Bataan were about to surrender, the US Navy was conducting hit and run raids on Japanese strongholds, the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo was in this month, and Americans were training up for the war in Europe while U-Boats lurked off of American shores.
“The Girl I Left Behind Me.” If you listen, and know what you are listening for, at about the 1:40 mark you pick up on the overlay Miller’s crew added to “American Patrol” of “The Girl I Left Behind Me.” While versions of this tune were popular in Dublin and the British service long before, it became popular in the US Army during the Civil War and in the Cavalry as a marching tune. So popular in fact, you’ve likely heard it in movies about the US Cavalry.