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Dame Vera Lynn entertained troops with morale-boosting visits to the front line during the Second World War. 1947. Daily Mail

Dame Vera Lynn, Britain's wartime sweetheart died today aged 103


Daily Mail
June 18, 2020 -

Area: Sussex

The Queen will today send a private message of condolence to the family of Dame Vera Lynn who has died aged 103 as Prince Charles and Boris Johnson led public tributes to the Forces' Sweetheart.

The much-loved singer, who will forever be remembered for her 'magical voice', morale-boosting songs and risking her own life to visit troops during the Second World War, passed away surrounded by her family this morning.

Dame Vera became a symbol of freedom for the men often thousands of miles from home and songs such as 'We'll Meet Again' and 'The White Cliffs of Dover' gave them hope in their darkest hours that they would one day return to their loved-ones in Britain.

And at home hits such as 'There'll Always Be An England' gave millions belief better days lay ahead as the Luftwaffe lay siege to UK cities during the Blitz and threatened invasion from France before the Allies swept Hitler's forces aside.

While her music was a beacon of hope between 1939 and 1945, her words in 'We'll Meet Again' resonated again in the current coronavirus pandemic with the Queen using them to inspire modern Britain to evoke the spirit of its wartime generation and battle through the coronavirus crisis.

Prince Charles today led royal tributes to Dame Vera, whose illustrious career meant she met the King George VI, his daughter the Queen, the Queen Mother and many other Windsors. His Clarence House Twitter account shared a number of pictures of the singer with the words: 'Remembering Dame Vera Lynn'. The Queen will send a private message to the family, Buckingham Palace said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson today paid tribute to Dame Vera, saying her 'charm and magical voice entranced and uplifted our country in some of our darkest hours. Her voice will live on to lift the hearts of generations to come'.

Poignantly Mr Johnson will today greet French President Emmanuel Macron in London to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Charles de Gaulle's 'Appel' BBC broadcast to occupied France following the Nazi invasion in 1940. Mr Macron will bestow France's top honour, the Legion d'Honneur, on Britain's capital as thanks for the country's support of its nearest occupied ally.

Dame Vera married her musician husband Harry Lewis in 1941 after meeting him in 1939 and the couple had one child, Virginia, who was born in 1946. Harry died in 1988 and Vera lived next door to her daughter in Ditchling, Sussex, who is understood to have been by her mother's side when she died in the early hours of this morning.

Her family said in a statement they were 'deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain's best-loved entertainers at the age of 103'. They added: 'Dame Vera Lynn passed away earlier today, surrounded by her close family. Further information regarding a memorial service will be announced at a later date.'

Three-quarters of a century on from the end of the Second World War 'We'll Meet Again' was quoted by the Queen in a rare TV address to give steel to Britain's 66million people separated from their family and friends during the coronavirus pandemic.

The song then became a lockdown anthem as it again entered the singles charts with profits going to the NHS and poignantly she last performed the song just six weeks ago. The veteran singer was beamed as a hologram to stand next to Katherine Jenkins at an empty Royal Albert Hall to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Dame Vera dedicated the performance 'to the brave boys and what they sacrificed for us' in her final interview before she died. She added: 'They left their families and homes to fight for our freedom and many lost their lives trying to protect us and our liberties.'

Dame Vera's death has sparked an outpouring of grief for a woman whose name is almost as synonymous with the war effort as Sir Winston Churchill. During the conflict she flew thousands of miles at great personal risk to perform for soldiers and visiting them in field hospitals.

One of those was Captain Tom Moore, who served in Burma where she visited in 1942, who said today her death was a 'real shame', adding: 'She had a huge impact on me in Burma and remained important to me throughout my life. My thoughts are with Dame Vera Lynn's family at this sad time'.

Dame Vera spent time with the teenage Princess Elizabeth and her family in 1945 at Windsor Castle, where the princess stayed for her safety during the Second World War, just as she has done in lockdown.

The singer and the royals celebrated the impending German surrender together, weeks ahead of the official announcement of peace.

At a party in the castle, she joined other entertainers and the Windsors "for a sort of private victory celebration".

Dame Vera later recalled: "There was Tommy Trinder and one or two other artists, the King and Queen and two princesses were there, and it was just sort of a private little party.

"So of course I wasn't surprised when peace was declared; we had already had a pre-warning, as it were, that it was finishing."

Actress Miriam Margolyes summed up the Queen's relationship to Dame Vera in her own tribute.

"There is no-one in our lives, except the Queen, who had the power to connect a nation," she said. "For that, she will be remembered and always with love."

Dame Vera was closely associated with the Queen Mother - and both were heralded for keeping spirits up during the war when the nation suffered under the Blitz and troops were training at home and fighting overseas.

They used to write to one another, once sending mutual messages of support when Dame Vera fractured her thigh and the Queen Mother dislocated her shoulder at the same time, and they met frequently at charity events and occasions commemorating the war.

On the 50th anniversary of VE Day in 1995, Dame Vera took centre stage in front of Buckingham Palace to sing to the thousands of people who gathered in celebration.

Watching from the balcony were the Queen Mother, the Queen and Princess Margaret.

The royal trio joined in with the crowds to sing along with Dame Vera as she performed The White Cliffs Of Dover.

She took part in the Queen Mother's 100th birthday parade, and paid tribute to her when she died in 2002.

Tributes have poured in for forces sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn who stirred the hearts of millions with songs and a personality that brought hope and inspiration during the darkest days of the Second World War.

Decades later her name is as enduring as that of Sir Winston Churchill as a figure who played a huge role in keeping up the spirits of a civilian population suffering under the Blitz and the troops training at home and fighting overseas.

Celebrities, politicians and charities lined up today to pay tribute to Dame Vera, a humanitarian and entertainer beloved by the nation, who has died aged 103.

Singer Katherine Jenkins said she could not find the words to explain how much she 'adored this wonderful lady'

She added: 'Her voice brought comfort to millions in their darkest hours, her songs filled the nation's hearts with hope, and her emotive performances, whether home or abroad, then or now, helped to get us through.

'It was she who chose the sentiments of her songs - she knew instinctively what people needed to hear, how to rally the morale and her spirit and strength created the soundtrack of a generation.

'There will never be another Dame Vera Lynn. Forces' Sweetheart and our sweetheart. An icon. A legend. An inspiration. My mentor and my friend. I will miss you greatly and I know we'll meet again some sunny day.'

Sir Cliff Richard said: 'Dame Vera Lynn was truly an icon. She was held in such high esteem and my best, and favourite, memory was sharing a performance with her in front of Buckingham Palace for the VE Day celebrations in 1995.

'We walked to the stage through a crowd of survivors of that war, and they were reaching out to touch and get a smile from Vera.

'I heard the words ... 'God bless you' ... 'Thank you' ... 'We love you' for their very own Forces' Sweetheart! A great singer, a patriotic woman and a genuine icon.

'I am happy to use the words called out on the wonderful day. Vera, thank you, God bless you, and I loved you too.

'Rest in a very deserved peace.'

Lyricist Sir Tim Rice described Dame Vera as 'one of the greatest ever British popular singers, not just because of her immaculate voice, warm, sincere, instantly recognisable and musically flawless'.

He continued: 'She will be remembered just as affectionately for her vital work in the Second World War and for her own charitable foundations in the 75 years since.

'A link with more certain times has been irrevocably broken.'

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said her 'charm and magical voice entranced and uplifted our country in some of our darkest hours'.

Remembering the singer known as the Forces' Sweetheart, he said: 'Her voice will live on to lift the hearts of generations to come.'

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