This morning, the vintage community, and indeed, the nation, or even the world, were saddened to hear about the passing of Dame Vera Lynn, the Forces Sweetheart, at the grand age of 103.
Over the last few months, Dame Vera’s lyrics have become a tonic for the difficult days we have been facing in lockdown. I myself as a vintage singer have found the world famous lyrics of “We’ll Meet Again” and “The White Cliffs of Dover” rather cathartic, as a reminder there are better days to come, when we can go out and socialise and be with our loved ones again.
Dame Vera Margaret Lynn was born on the 20th March 1917 in the East End of London. At two years old she fell ill with Diphtheritic Coup, and almost died, when she was seven she was performing in Working Men’s Clubs. Who’d have thought the little girl from East Ham, would soon go on to become a British Institution, who’s songs are synonymous even today.
In 1935, Vera performed her first broadcast with the Joe Loss orchestra, and appeared on numerous records at the time. However, it wouldn’t be until 1937 that she would have her first hit, “The Little Boy that Santa Claus Forgot” and “Red Sails in the Sunset”.
During the Blitz, Vera would drive to tube stations, to entertain those sheltering from the bombs. With her morale boosting songs “We’ll Meet Again” and “White Cliffs of Dover” and during the “Phoney War” British Servicemen dubbed Vera “The Forces Sweetheart” a role she would continue to fulfil her whole life, be it her radio show “Sincerely Yours” where she’d read letters to our gallant servicemen, and travelling to the far corners of the world, Burma, India, and Egypt with ENSA. Gaining her the Burma Star in 1985.
After the War, she continued to release songs, one of her big hits being “Auf Weiderseh’n Sweetheart” became the first song at Number One in the US by a British Performer, remaining at the top spot for nine weeks!
She continued to perform into the 1990s, and performed at four Royal Variety Shows, making numerous surprise appearances well into her 80s and 90s.
I personally, was taught Vera Lynn’s iconic songs at primary school, and have heard numerous people at events singing her classic songs. I personally can never go out to sing without singing “We’ll Meet Again”, as the song brings so much joy, and happy memories to those around us. And I am forever comforted by those lyrics, especially in these difficult times, knowing that “We’ll meet again, some sunny day”.
Rest in Peace Dame Vera Lynn. You, your words, your songs, along with your years of charity work, will never be forgotten.
We’ll Meet Again Some Sunny Day.
by Hattie Bee, vintage singer.