Forces’ Sweetheart and national treasure Dame Vera Lynn whose raised moral with her songs of hope and resilience during World War 2 has died aged 103.
Her family announced that they are “deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers” and that she was surrounded by her loved ones in her East Sussex home.
Most known for her monumental song ‘We’ll Meet Again’ that she performed to troops along the front line, Dame Vera recently spoke six months ago to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day where she said that simple acts of bravery and sacrifice still define our nation. A week later, she became the UK’s oldest artist to get a top 40 album in the UK, beating her own record when her greatest hits album reentered the charts at number 30.
Dame Vera began performing at just 7 years old and by the age of 11 she had left school to pursue a full time career as a dancer and singer. She began working in orchestras from the age of 18 before releasing her debut solo recording in 1936 while working in an East End shipping company.
By the age of 22, she had sold over a million records and during the second world war she performed to those sheltering from the bomb raids in the London Underground and gained huge popularity among soldiers, earning her the nickname of the Forces’ Sweetheart. Throughout the war, she bravely toured Egypt, India and Myanmar performing for troops and in 2017 she told The Guardian that “Singing in the jungle was very hot and very sticky, which was a bit hard going. I had a little piano, which they trudged around on the back of a lorry, hoping it would survive the journeys.”
In 1969, Dame Vera was rightfully awarded an OBE and in 1975 she was made a Dame for her charity work. She has worked tirelessly throughout her life raising awareness for a range of causes by becoming the founder of breast cancer and child cerebral palsy charities as well as working for charities benefiting military service people, including Forces Literary Organisation Worldwide (Flow).
Dame Vera Lynn’s final live performance was at the 2005 VE day 60th anniversary celebrations in Trafalgar Square where she performed ‘We’ll Meet Again’ and told the crowd:
“These boys gave their lives and some came home badly injured and for some families life would never be the same. We should always remember, we should never forget and we should teach the children to remember.”
Dame Vera Lynn
With a voice that has brought hope to the nation in ways that are just as relevant today than every before and a lifetime of charity service behind her, Dame Vera Lynn will forever be remembered for uplifting our country during some of our darkest hours.