Vera Lynn


At the start of the second world war, Vera Lynn was an up-and-coming dance band singer. By 1945, this working-class young woman had become a symbol of the British wartime spirit, with a status comparable to that of the patrician prime minister, Winston Churchill. After the war, her friend Harry Secombe liked to joke that “Churchill didn’t beat the Nazis. Vera sang them to death.”

Lynn’s iconic status as the “Forces’ Sweetheart” was due to the success of her radio series, Sincerely Yours, which linked the soldiers at the front with their loved ones at home. In 1944, she visited the troops in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, which kindled her lifelong commitment to the welfare of veterans, especially those of the Burma campaign. Above all, her celebrity was due to her hit songs. Such numbers as We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover caught and moulded a national mood, despite the harsh criticism her crooning style provoked from some politicians and BBC managers.

After VE Day, Lynn resumed her career as a variety artist and recording star, but her association with wartime Britain remained central to her identity and reputation throughout her long life. She was always a prominent presence at commemorations of the war. Her place at the heart of national life was officially recognised when she was made OBE in 1969, a dame in 1975 and a Companion of Honour in 2016; her 100th birthday, in March 2017, was marked by the release of a new album and a concert in her honour at the London Palladium. Vera Lynn  (Vera Margaret Welch) sadly died on the 18th June 2020.

Here she is with her most famous of songs from 1943.



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