We’ll meet again, Dame Vera: Singing icon dies at 103

 

Dame Vera Lynn, the iconic British singer best known for her rousing wartime song We'll Meet Again, has died. She was 103.

Lynn's family confirmed the singer died on Thursday morning, surrounded by relatives, according to the BBC.

"The family are deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain's best-loved entertainers," reads a statement.

Dame Vera Lynn, a World War II-era star, has died aged 103. Picture: Shaun Curry/AFP
Dame Vera Lynn, a World War II-era star, has died aged 103. Picture: Shaun Curry/AFP

Lynn, who was known as the Forces' Sweetheart during World War II, was most recently in the spotlight during Victory in Europe (VE) Day on May 8, when the UK - in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic and still house-bound - was invited to sing along to her song We'll Meet Again.

The song was also referenced by Queen Elizabeth II during her April coronavirus address, when she assured the nation that, "We will be with our friends again. We will be with our families again. We will meet again."

Lynn told the BBC in May, "I hope that VE Day will remind us all that hope remains even in the most difficult of times and that simple acts of bravery and sacrifice still define our nation as the NHS works so hard to care for us. Most of all, I hope today serves as a reminder that however hard things get, we will meet again."

 

 

During the war, Lynn performed for the troops in countries such as Egypt, India and Myanmar, according to the BBC.

Her other well-known songs include The White Cliffs Of Dover and There'll Always Be An England.

On Thursday, within an hour of the announcement of her death, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid his respects to the singer, tweeting, "Dame Vera Lynn's 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."

Born Vera Margaret Welch in 1917 in East Ham, she began performing at men's clubs from the age of seven.

Dame Vera Lynn rehearsing for the radio show 'Sincerely Yours, Vera Lynn'. Picture: Supplied
Dame Vera Lynn rehearsing for the radio show 'Sincerely Yours, Vera Lynn'. Picture: Supplied

Upon taking her grandmother's maiden name, Lynn, she joined a singing troupe and left school at 14.

Soon snapped up by an agent, she began booking radio gigs and live performances, eventually releasing her first solo recording, Up the Wooden Hill to Bedfordshire in 1936.

Her hit song, We'll Meet Again came at the outbreak of war, premiering on a popular radio program in 1939. In 1941, she received her own BBC radio program, Sincerely Yours, Vera Lynn, and soon recorded what has become another iconic wartime song, The White Cliffs of Dover.

During the war, Lynn also appeared in the 1942 film We'll Meet Again, in which she played an entertainer.

Upon joining the Entertainment National Services Association in 1944, she travelled to Egypt, India and Myanmar, performing for troops.

Lynn attends a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain in 2010. Picture: AP
Lynn attends a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain in 2010. Picture: AP

After war's end, Lynn toured around Europe and continued to host her radio show.

She became the first English artist to top the American charts when Decca Records released a compilation of her songs, titled Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart in 1952.

After developing emphysema towards the end of the 1960s, her touring slowed.

Lynn became the oldest living artist to have a number one album in England in 2009, with the release of We'll Meet Again: The Very Best of Vera Lynn.

She broke another record in 2017, when she came the oldest living artist to have an album in the top 10 of the British charts with 100, in honour of her 100th birthday.

Lynn was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1969.

Six years later, she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1975.

Originally published as We'll meet again, Dame Vera: Singing icon dies at 103

Lynn poses outside Buckingham Palace in December 1975 after being invested a Dame Commander of the British Empire.
Lynn poses outside Buckingham Palace in December 1975 after being invested a Dame Commander of the British Empire.


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