Dame Vera Lynn, the British singer whose melancholy performance “We will meet again” put a brave face to the overwhelming sadness of the Second World War, died Thursday, according to a press release from her family.
She was 103 years old.
“The family is deeply saddened to announce the death of one of the most beloved British artists at the age of 103,” the statement said, reported by the Press Association, a British news agency.
“Dame Vera Lynn, who lived in Ditchling, East Sussex, died earlier in the day on June 18, 2020, surrounded by her close family. “
Lynn died as one of the last actor and song stars of her time, having established herself as an icon of the greatest generation of Britain, who successfully defended Europe against the fascist forces of ‘Germany and Italy.
Known as “the darling of the Forces” for her performances during the Second World War, Lynn scored successes with “We will see each other again”, “The white cliffs of Dover”, “A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square” and “He there will always be Be an England. ”
“We Will Meet Again”, composed in 1939 by Ross Parker and Hughie Charles, captured the dreadfully sad moments when countless Allied soldiers went to war and hopefully promised to come home – knowing that these chances were at best faltering.
The lyrics included the well-known verses: “We will see each other again. I do not know where. I do not know when. But I know we will meet again on a sunny day. “
“We will meet again” had the words, he was optimistic. He said we will meet again, all this trouble will be over and we will all be nice and happy and back home, “Lynn said in an interview. with the Imperial War Museum in 1988.
“It was the songs that helped them think about home, keep fighting, fighting for something that meant something to them and to everyone and their loved ones and families. And it gave them hope and it gave them the courage to continue doing what they were supposed to do at that time. ”
Lynn said she had carefully chosen the songs she performed during the Second World War, knowing that the fans listening were either soldiers or relatives of those in danger.
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“It was not only important that it was a song I loved and thought I could sing it well, but it had to mean something to those who listened to it,” Lynn told the museum.
Michael D. Langan, writing as a cultural critic for the Fort Myers NBC WBBH affiliate, said that the words “We will see each other again” give hope to anyone faced with his or the disappearance of a to be expensive.
“The song will make you cry,” Langan wrote in 2019. “I don’t know where, I don’t know when, but it will happen. That’s enough for me. “
When Lynn turned 100, a 350-foot-high image of her face was projected onto the cliffs of Dover in honor of this song and the powerful symbolism of this British monument.
“As we look at the white cliffs on Monday, I will think of all of our brave boys – the cliffs were the last thing they saw before going to war and, for those lucky enough to come back, the first thing that they saw it when they got home, “said Lynn just before her 100th birthday in March 2017.
“I feel so blessed to have reached this milestone and I cannot think of a more meaningful way to mark the occasion. “
The iconic performer was born Vera Margaret Lynn in East Ham, in the London Borough of Newham, on March 20, 1917, of Bertram Samuel Welch and Annie Martin.
She remembered playing at the age of seven. As a teenager and young performer, she gained prominence in the era of the big band of British music, leading to the Second World War.
She sang with famous British group leaders Billy Cotton and Bert Ambrose, and regularly participated in a BBC radio show by famous pianist Charlie Kunz.
Lynn vividly remembers her father’s birthday celebration in the family garden on September 3, 1939, when they heard on the radio that Britain had gone to war.
“One of the first things I thought about: what would happen to the entertainment? Lynn recalled in the Imperial War Museum interview in 1988.
She quickly found herself at all bases and hospitals in the British Isles and beyond.
“It soon became apparent that entertainment was going to be a necessity against which … to keep morale high,” she said. She broadcast a BBC radio program “Sincerely Yours” on Sunday evening while singing songs and reading letters from soldiers.
Lynn saw herself as an “unsophisticated” young woman from the East End – and the perfect messenger to communicate with soldiers on the front lines.
“I was very similar to their sisters and their girlfriends. They thought I was one of them socially and that they could identify with me, “said Lynn. “I gave them news from the house about a baby born to Sgt. Jones or someone else. I was going to visit the women to take flowers and talk about them in another program. “
She received one of her country’s highest honors in 1975 when Queen Elizabeth II made Lynn a commander of the British Empire.
Lynn’s 57-year-old husband, saxophonist and clarinetist Harry Lewis, preceded her in death in 1998. The two met when Lewis played for Bert Ambrose & His Orchestra. They are survived by a daughter, Virginia Lewis-Jones, born in 1946.
Lynn remained active during her final years and in September 2009, she became the oldest person, at the age of 92, to be number 1 on the British album charts with “We will meet again: the best of Vera Lynn “.
In an interview with The Associated Press this month, Lynn said that it was in the British DNA to keep a rigid upper lip and make the most of the most difficult circumstances.
“I guess for older people like me, we can remember times when we couldn’t get this or we couldn’t get it … it’s something we don’t mind,” she said. declared.
“Because we did it back then and this is how people face it today. And they will get out of it. We have always faced, whatever the odds. “