LONDON (AP) — Dame Vera Lynn, the endearingly popular “Forces’ Sweetheart” who serenaded British troops abroad during World War II, has died at 103.
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.”
“The family is deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers at the age of 103,” her family said in a statement. “Dame Vera Lynn, who lived in Ditchling, East Sussex, passed away earlier today, 18 June 2020, surrounded by her close 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.