Sad news today, as Dame Vera Lynn, who's iconic rendition of We'll Meet Again, a song which became an anthem for hope during World War II, has passed away at the age of 103. Her family provided a short statement saying that they are "deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain's best-loved entertainers at the age of 103," and that "Dame Vera Lynn, who lived in Ditchling, East Sussex, passed away earlier today, 18th June 2020, surrounded by her close family."
Dame Vera Lynn was born in East Ham, which resides on the outskirts of London, in 1917. She began performing at the age of seven, and from the age of eighteen, Lynn began performing with orchestras in the UK, and released her debut solo recording, Up the Wooden Hill to Bedfordshire, in 1936, while she worked in an East End shipping company.
Lynn became widely known during the second world war, during which she performed to people sheltering in the train stations of London's underground. She became popular among both the public and the serving soldiers, earning the nickname the "Force's Sweetheart", and toured for troops in Egypt, India, and Myanmar, then known as Burma, during the war.
Her popularity was boosted further by her signature song We'll Meet Again, its impassioned longing and optimistic lyrics capturing the mood of such a historical period of time in humanity's history. It has since endured as the defining song of that era in Britain, and recently re-entered the UK charts at No 55 amid the 75th anniversary celebrations of VE Day.
Vera Lynn's most famous songs also include the likes of Sweetheart, Dancing with Tears in My Eyes, The White Cliffs of Dover, and Rose of England.
Lynn was also well-renowned for her charity work, and, looking back on her life after turning 100 in 2017, having established the Dame Vera Lynn Children's Charity in 2001, she said that this is the part of her life she would rather be remembered, as opposed to her wartime bravery. "I'd love it to be my legacy," she said. "I've never considered my actions as courageous. I was just doing my job."
Tributes have been pouring in for the British icon, with the BBC Director-General, Tony Hall, saying, "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."
Actress and Harry Potter star 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." May she rest in peace.
Finally, The Royal British Legion described her as "an unforgettable British icon, symbol of hope to the Armed Forces community past and present". This comes to us courtesy of BBC.