Vera Lynn was known as the "Forces Sweetheart" in World War Two. She was one of Britain’s most well-known singers during the war and helped to keep up morale among the troops and those on the home front.
Born on 20 March 1917, Vera Lynn showed a talent for performing from an early age. At seven years old she was performing in working men's clubs. Vera Lynn made her radio debut in 1935 when she sang with the Joe Loss Orchestra.
She met husband Harry Lewis in the 1930s while they were both in the Bert Ambrose Orchestra. They married in 1941 and had a daughter, Virginia, in 1946. After her marriage to Harry, Vera launched her solo career. She launched her own BBC radio show called "Sincerely Yours". During the show, Vera Lynn read out messages addressed to the troops at the front, sent in from their wives and sweethearts. The show was a huge hit.
Her most popular hits were the song ‘We’ll Meet Again’ and ‘White Cliffs of Dover’, both of which launched Vera Lynn into stardom. She was known as the "Forces Sweetheart" and the most popular singer in Britain. She also travelled to India and Burma to entertain the troops stationed there.
Early in the war, newspaper readers voted Vera as Forces Sweetheart. Speaking at the age of 98, she said:
“It came as a surprise. I’d always tried to imagine I was sitting at home by the fire, singing to people in the same room. But I became a messenger, linking separated people.”
The entertainer also starred in films produced during the war: We'll Meet Again, One Exciting Night and Rhythm Serenade.
Vera Lynn continued to works in variety shows after the war. Still Britain's ‘Sweetheart’, she had no trouble in filling out theatres and music halls across the country.On top of this, Vera holds the record of being the first British artist to get to Number One in the American charts thanks to the song "Auf Wiedersehn Sweetheart".
Vera Lynn continued to make TV and radio appearances during the 1950s and 1960s, including on Morecambe and Wise and in BBC special programmes. During the late 1960s she even hosted her own variety series. She was awarded an OBE in 1969. She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1975 for her work in entertainment during the war.
In September 2009 Lynn became the oldest living artist to make it into No. 1 in the British album chart, at the age of 92 with her collection “We’ll Meet Again: The Very Best of Vera Lynn”.
See also: Tommy Trinder
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