Dame Vera Lynn, who’s rendition of We’ll Meet Again became an anthem for hope during World War Two, has died at the age of 103.
Her family confirmed she passed away this morning while surrounded by those close to her.
“The family are deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers at the age of 103,” a statement said.
“Dame Vera Lynn, who lived in Ditchling, East Sussex, passed away earlier today, 18th June 2020, surrounded by her close family.”
The singer and actress, dubbed the Forces’ Sweetheart, rose to fame during the second World War.
Lynn is best known for hits such as We’ll Meet Again, her rendition of which was hugely popular during the war.
As she turned 100 in 2017, she looked back on her life. She established the Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity in 2001. And she said it is her charity work – not her wartime bravery – for which she wants to be remembered.
“I’d love it to be my legacy,” she said. “I’ve never considered my actions as courageous. I was just doing my job.”
Lynn released her first single Up the Wooden Hill to Bedfordshire in 1936.
At the start of the wartime, she began singing for people sheltering in air raid shelters before recording her version of We’ll Meet Again in 1939.
After topping a poll of British servicemen to find their favourite performer, she became known as the Forces’ Sweetheart
Vera Lynn’s songs also include Sweetheart, Dancing with Tears in My Eyes, The White Cliffs of Dover and Rose of England.
Tributes to Dame Vera Lynn
Tributes are already flooding in for the Forces’ Sweetheart following the news of her death.
BBC Director General, Tony Hall, said, “What sad news. Not only was she dear to many, she was a symbol of hope during the war and is a part of our national story. She appeared on the BBC many times and had her own variety show in the 1960s and early 70s.
“She demonstrated how music and entertainment can bring joy in the most challenging times. Something that will resonate with many people today. The BBC will be showing a special tribute programme tonight.”
Sir Tim Rice said, “Dame Vera Lynn was one of the greatest ever British popular singers, not just because of her immaculate voice, warm, sincere, instantly recognisable and musically flawless. 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.”
Miriam Margolyes also paid tribute to Lynn, saying, “Dame Vera never lost her reality. The voice like a bell was a gift, which she shared so generously and bravely.
But the magic was that her personality was genuine, open, warm. Meeting her was one of the high points of my life.
“She looked at you & SAW you. And connected. There is no one in our lives, except The Queen, who had the power to connect a nation. For that, she will be remembered & always with love.”
Roger Redfarn said: “Dame Vera has been a dear friend since the early 1970’s and for many years a neighbour in the village of Ditchling. The world knows of her great voice that through the good and bad times has thrilled millions.
“My own father firmly believed that the Second World War was won by Sir Winston Churchill and Vera Lynn. As a friend she was the warmest and kindest of people, I never saw her angry or say a bad word of anyone, people would stop her in the street and she always found time for them. She cared particularly about our armed forces, ‘her boys’ as she called them.
“Her work for charity, especially young people with cerebral palsy was tireless and inspiring. There will never be anyone like her again.”
Anthony Andrews said: “My father adored the purity of her voice and we still have the tear stained music copy, as he wrote her arrangements he could hear her wonderful soaring tone.
“Personally, I will never forget the unannounced arrival of her Majesty the Queen at the celebration of Vera’s 100th Birthday at the London Palladium; a perfect and fitting tribute.
“It was the greatest joy and a privilege to have known her.”
Dame Vera Lynn was also well known for her charity work. Pilar Cloud, Executive Manager of Dame Vera Lynn’s Childrens Charity said: “She has always been hands on, enjoying participating in sessions, singing songs with the children and setting the tone with real determination to ensure that “her families” were never forgotten. She is very fondly regarded by all of the staff and families, and will be greatly missed by so many people.”
Lynn celebrated her 103rd birthday back in March, marking the occasion by releasing a new video for We’ll Meet Again, including a new voiceover aimed at bolstering the British public during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are facing a very challenging time at the moment, and I know many people are worried about the future,” she said. “I’m greatly encouraged that despite these struggles, we have seen people joining together.
“Music is so good for the soul, and during these hard times we must all help each other to find moments of joy.”
This story has been updated