Entertainment

Vera Lynn, British World War II Singer, Dies Aged 103

Share
Dame Vera Lynn smiling

Her family said in a statement this morning that they were "deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain's best-loved entertainers". She stayed in tents and grass huts, and "went goodness knows how long without a bath".

"What they needed was a contact from home", she said. She had previously become the first centenarian to claim a Top 10 album with the same record back in 2017 when 100 debuted at Number 3.

Dame Vera was born in East Ham, London, and rose to fame while performing for the troops during the war in countries including Egypt, India and Burma. By the time she was 11, she had abandoned school for a full-time career as a dancer and singer in a touring music hall revue.

She will be remembered by millions.

Her success continued well into the 1950s, scoring a string of hits including Forget Me Not, The Homing Waltz and Number 1 hit My Son My Son. She remained an outspoken supporter of military veterans throughout her life.

Lynn was also fondly remembered for singing "The White Cliffs of Dover", "There'll Always Be An England" and "I'll Be Seeing You", to help raise British spirits during the Blitz.

"My mother first became involved in raising awareness of cerebral palsy in the "50s when there was very little understanding of the condition and children who suffered from motor learning difficulties were often referred to rather pejoratively as 'spastic", she said.

The dame was known as the "forces sweetheart" during the Second World War.

Dame Vera Lynn at Brighton Pride
Dame Vera Lynn at Brighton Pride

On occasion, Lynn delighted fans by taking up the microphone again.

The song also made an appearance as British people marked the 75th anniversary of VE day, when the Nazis surrendered on 8 May, 1945. During ceremonies past year to mark the D-Day landings, a pre-recorded wish was played to a ballroom full of veterans on a ship sailing to France to mark the event. When she was done, the thunderous applause rattled the windows.

Unbeknown to the choir, Vera, a resident of East Sussex unit her death, had chose to join her friend.

Anyone who wants to make a donation in Dame Vera's memory can do so online at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/keepsmilingthrough, by phone on 01444 473274, or by post. "I don't live in the past", she once said, "even though I have never been allowed to forget it".

It was her last singalong in public, though she recently appeared via video link to duet with soprano Katherine Jenkins.

Its underlying message of hope - that scattered families would eventually be reunited after the conflict - struck a chord with troops overseas and their relatives at home.

The singer was a national treasure, renowned for her time spent as the Forces Sweetheart in WWII but outside of her life in the limelight she was married to her musician husband for 57 years.

Share