“Churchill didn’t beat the Nazis. Vera sang them to death.”
Dame Vera Lynn 103
At the start of the second world war, Vera Lynn, who has died aged 103, was an up-and-coming dance band singer.
By 1945, this working-class young woman had become a symbol of the British wartime spirit, with a status comparable to that of the patrician prime minister,
Winston Churchill. After the war, her friend Harry Secombe liked to joke that “Churchill didn’t beat the Nazis. Vera sang them to death.”
Lynn’s iconic status as the “Forces’ Sweetheart” was due to the success of her radio series, Sincerely Yours, which linked the soldiers at the front with their loved ones at home.
In 1944, she visited the troops in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, which kindled her lifelong commitment to the welfare of veterans, especially those of the Burma campaign.
Above all, her celebrity was due to her hit songs. Such numbers as We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover caught and moulded a national mood, despite the harsh criticism her crooning style provoked from some politicians and BBC managers.