The famous British singer, Dame Vera Lynn, known as the “Force’s Sweetheart”, released one of the best-known wartime anthems of all time, We’ll Meet Again, in 1939.
Now 101 years old, the veteran star, whose concerts boosted the morale of troops during the Second World War, is still a firm believer in the emotional value of music. As an ambassador for BBC Music Day, which took place on 28th September, she spoke of the “powerful and unique ability” of music to “console and comfort” us.
Dame Vera says music transcends any boundaries of communication and is “one of the great joys of life”, urging everyone to have more music in their day.
Her famous song, We’ll Meet Again, was a massive hit during the Second World War.
The singer went to meet thousands of troops during the conflict and would sing at concerts, boosting the morale of the Armed Forces and lifting their spirits with her repertoire, which also included her other great wartime hit, The White Cliffs of Dover, released in 1942.
We’ll Meet Again was famous for its emotional lyrics about meeting loved ones again, at some point in the future. The song struck a chord with the troops and the public during the Second World War. Today, 79 years later, the lyrics are still just as meaningful.
The Armed Forces, stationed far away from home during the Second World War, felt great emotion when they listened to the lyrics of the song, written by Hugh Charles and Ross Parker.
It gave them renewed hope of seeing their loved ones again after the war, as Dame Vera reassured them, “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when. But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.”
Dame Vera’s youth
Vera Margaret Welch was born on 20th March 1917, into a working-class family in East Ham, London. By the time she was just seven years old, she was singing in local working men’s clubs and at the age of 11, she took the stage name Lynn – her grandma’s maiden name.
Her family wasn’t well off, as her father Bertram was a plumber and her mother Annie a dressmaker, so the youngster’s singing soon made her the main breadwinner. She never had any formal training and was a naturally gifted vocalist.
Aged 15, she was singing at the Poplar Baths, where she was spotted by bandleader Howard Baker and was signed up on the spot. This was the start of her long and successful career.
Her first solo record, Up the Wooden Hill to Bedfordshire, was a hit in 1936, when she was 19. Within three years, she was a major recording star, selling more than one million records and buying a luxurious modern house for her parents.
Dame Vera was also a celebrated actress, with one of her most famous roles being the leading character, Peggy Brown, in the 1943 film, We’ll Meet Again, loosely based on her own life story.
The film was described by the critics as a “fine morale booster”, as it charted humble Peggy’s rise to fame as she tried to make it in London during the Second World War.
Despite being a huge star, Dame Vera chose to tour extensively to entertain the troops in Egypt, India and Burma during the war as a member of the Entertainments National Service Association, known as ENSA. She would meet the troops in person and sang at many outdoor concerts.
The most popular songs at the concerts were We’ll Meet Again, The White Cliffs of Dover, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square and the rousing There’ll Always Be an England.
She was voted the British Expeditionary Forces’ favourite singer, ahead of the popular American artists of the day, such as Judy Garland and Bing Crosby.
After the war, Dame Vera continued to be a leading international artist in the UK and United States, with many TV and radio performances. At the age of 92, in 2009, she broke a record as the oldest singer ever to have a chart-topping album in the UK, when We’ll Meet Again: The Very Best of Vera Lynn rocketed to the number one spot.
In 2017, to celebrate her 100th birthday, she released a new album, Vera Lynn 100, which peaked at number three in the UK chart. She broke another record in becoming the first centenarian singer to release a chart album.
The singer is also a well-known philanthropist and has done a great deal of fundraising for many charities throughout her life, including those that assist ex-service personnel, disabled children and people with breast cancer.
The nation is preparing to pay tribute on Remembrance Sunday to those brave men and women who sacrificed their life in conflicts to assure the freedom of future generations.
While this year’s services will mark the centenary of the end of the First World War, the event also remembers those who have died in other wars, including conflicts in modern times, such as the Second World War, the Gulf War and Afghanistan.
Psydro will be joining the rest of the nation in remembering them all, as remembrance services take place across the country. We will be observing the two-minute silence at 11am to mark the time that the First World War officially ended. Such bravery must never be forgotten.