Dame Vera Lynn, the endearingly popular “Forces’ Sweetheart” who serenaded British troops abroad during World War II, has died at 103. (June 18)
Dame Vera Lynn, the World War II forces sweetheart who serenaded British troops abroad and sang “We’ll Meet Again” during the U.K.’s times of distress, died early Thursday, her family said. She was 103.
She was surrounded by her close family, the statement to the Associated Press said.
“The family are deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers,” it added.
During the war and long after, Lynn got crowds singing, smiling and crying with sentimental favorites such as “We’ll Meet Again,” and “The White Cliffs of Dover.”
Last month, Queen Elizabeth II, the only living head of state who served during the war (as a home-front vehicle mechanic), gave a televised speech marking the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, followed by the 103-year-old Lynn leading a national singalong of “We’ll Meet Again.” In April, the queen referenced the song during a rare speech offering hope and gratitude to the British people amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again,” she concluded.
Buckingham Palace confirmed to USA TODAY the monarch sent a private message of condolence to Lynn’s family.
Lynn possessed a down-to-earth appeal, reminding servicemen of the ones they left behind.
“I was somebody that they could associate with,” she once told The Associated Press. “I was an ordinary girl.”
She hosted a wildly popular BBC radio show during the war called “Sincerely Yours” in which she sent messages to British troops abroad and performed the songs they requested. The half-hour program came on during the highly coveted slot following the Sunday night news.
“Winston Churchill was my opening act,” she once said.
Lynn had thought the war would doom her chance of success.
“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.”
In September 2009, long after her retirement, Lynn topped the British album chart with a best hits collection titled “We’ll Meet Again — The Very Best of Vera Lynn.” It reached No. 1, despite competition from the release of remastered Beatles’ albums.
The singer, songwriter and actress was nonplussed at becoming the oldest living artist to lead a British music chart.
The official Twitter account of Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla paid tribute to the singer with pictures of her and the royals.
“Remembering Dame Vera Lynn,” they wrote.
The Royal Air Force described Lynn as one who “inspired the nation for over 80 years, bringing hope in our darkest moments.”
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson mourned Lynn Thursday on Twitter: “Dame Vera Lynn’s charm and magical voice entranced and uplifted our country in some of our darkest hours,” he wrote. “Her voice will live on to lift the hearts of generations to come.”
English actor Michael Ball called Lynn “incomparable” on Twitter.
“Her talent was so very rare and special, her service to this country an inspiration to us all and we shall never see her like again.”
Welsh singer Aled Jones added: “Sending all my love to the family of Dame Vera Lynn who has sadly passed away- it was such an honour to duet with her- a true legend!’
Contributing: Danica Kirka, The Associated Press.
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