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'Forces' sweetheart' and renowned singer Lynn dies aged 103

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Loss: Vera Lynn died aged 103. Photo: Reuters

Loss: Vera Lynn died aged 103. Photo: Reuters

REUTERS

Loss: Vera Lynn died aged 103. Photo: Reuters

Vera Lynn, the singer who became a symbol of hope in Britain during World War II and again during the coronavirus pandemic with her song 'We'll Meet Again', died at the age of 103 yesterday.

Known as the 'forces' sweetheart', Lynn struck a chord with soldiers fighting overseas and with the British public at home through her performances and records, including 'The White Cliffs of Dover'.

To mark her 100th birthday in 2017, a giant image of Lynn as a young woman was projected onto those white cliffs and a new album released.

She was back in the headlines in April when Queen Elizabeth used words from Lynn's song to tell the country "We will meet again" and urged people to show resolve during the coronavirus lockdown.

Lynn died yesterday morning surrounded by close relatives, her family said in a statement.

"Dame Vera Lynn's charm and magical voice entranced and uplifted our country in some of our darkest hours," Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote on Twitter.

"Her voice will live on to lift the hearts of generations to come."

She died on the day Mr Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron marked the 80th anniversary of General de Gaulle's call for resistance to the Nazi occupation of France during World War II.

Decca Records, which worked with Lynn since her earliest releases, paid tribute to its "brightest and most enduring star".

Lynn was born Vera Welch on March 20, 1917, the daughter of a plumber in London's East End, and was singing in working men's clubs at the age of seven.

She began radio broadcasts and singing with bands in the late 1930s. But it was her wartime songs that won her fame and led to British tanks trundling into battle with "Vera" painted on their sides and more than 1,000 written offers of marriage from servicemen.

Ironically, Lynn's biggest hit had a German title and came after the war. 'Auf Wiedersehn Sweetheart', backed by a soldiers' chorus, sold more than 12 million copies worldwide and made Lynn the first British performer to top the US hit parade.

In 1975, Lynn was given the title of Dame of the British Empire.

Irish Independent