Dame Vera Lynn, also known as the ‘Forces Sweetheart’ died yesterday at age 103. She is known for serenading British troops during World War II.
Lynn was known for singing songs such as ‘Forces Sweetheart’ (which earned her the nickname), ‘We’ll Meet Again’ and ‘White Cliffs of Dover’ to entertain troops and get crowds laughing and crying. Her legend will live on through these songs.
Her family released the following statement announcing her death. “The family are deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers at the age of 103. Dame Vera Lynn, who lived in Ditchling, East Sussex, passed away earlier today, 18 June 2020, surrounded by her close family.”
It was more than Lynn’s voice that made her popular. It was also her personality. Many noted that she had a down to earth appeal that was very relatable. The singer has been quoted as saying “I was somebody that they could associate with. I was an ordinary girl.”
Her personality earned her a gig hosting a popular BBC radio show that aired during the war called ‘Sincerely Yours’. While on the air, Lynn would send messages to British troops abroad and perform songs they requested. The show aired at a highly coveted time slot; right after the Sunday night news. “Churchill was my opening act,” Lynn once joked.
The singer reflected on how she came to start singing for the troops. “When war first started, when it was declared, I thought, ‘Well there goes my career.’ You know, I shall finish up in a factory or the army or somewhere,” she recalled. “You imagined all the theaters closing down, which didn’t happen except when the sirens sounded. And everybody, if they wanted to, they could stay in the theater and the show would go on.”
Not only was Lynn able to keep her career alive through the war, she would remain successful for years to come. In September of 2009, long after her retirement, she released a best of collection called, ‘We’ll Meet Again, The Very Best of Vera Lynn’. The album reached number 1 despite competition from the Beatles remastered releases.
More recently, she released a new album for her 100th birthday, a date that is traditionally recognized by Queen Elizabeth II. The album featured many of her old classics. She did not cut new vocals for the release saying she preferred to remember her voice as it was.
“It’s truly humbling that people still enjoy these songs from so many years ago,” Lynn was quoted as saying.
In addition to being a singer and radio personality, Lynn was also a philanthropist. She created the Vera Lynn Children’s Charity to help children with cerebral palsy and other motor learning impairments. She received many honors in her lifetime and was made a Dame in the Queen’s 1975 birthday honors due to her charitable contributions.
Lynn lived a full and wonderful life. May she rest in peace.