Dame Vera Margaret Lynn (née Welch; 20 March 1917 – 18 June 2020) was an English singer, songwriter and entertainer whose musical recordings and performances were very popular during the Second World War. She was widely referred to as the "Forces' Sweetheart" and gave outdoor concerts for the troops in Egypt, India and Burma during the war as part of Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA). The songs most associated with her are "We'll Meet Again", "(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover", "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" and "There'll Always Be an England".
She remained popular after the war, appearing on radio and television in the United Kingdom and the United States, and recording such hits as "Auf Wiederseh'n, Sweetheart" and her UK number-one single "My Son, My Son". Her last single, "I Love This Land", was released to mark the end of the Falklands War. In 2009, at the age of 92, she became the oldest living artist to top the UK Albums Chart with the compilation album We'll Meet Again: The Very Best of Vera Lynn. In 2014, she released the collection Vera Lynn: National Treasure and in 2017, she released Vera Lynn 100, a compilation album of hits to commemorate her centenary—it was a No. 3 hit, making her the first centenarian performer to have a Top 10 album in the charts. By the time of her death in 2020 she had been active in the music industry for 96 years.
Lynn devoted much time and energy to charity work connected with ex-servicemen, disabled children and breast cancer. She was held in great affection by Second World War veterans and in 2000 was named the Briton who best exemplified the spirit of the 20th century.
She is also known as Vera Margaret Welch and Dame Vera Lynn.
Vera Lynn died on 18 June 2020 at her home in East Sussex aged 103. Tributes to Lynn were led by the Royal Family, with Queen Elizabeth II sending private condolences to Lynn's family and Clarence House issuing tributes from Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, also led with tributes in Parliament, while musicans like Sir Paul McCartney and Katherine Jenkins and public figures like Captain Tom Moore discussed her profound impact. On the day of her death, regular programming on the BBC was stopped in order to air tributes to the singer. The Band of the Coldstream Guards convened the same day to play her song "We'll Meet Again". After Lynn's death, Jenkins began campaigning to erect a statue of her by the White Cliffs of Dover, a location referenced in another of her famous songs.
Lynn was given a military funeral, which was held on 10 July 2020 in East Sussex. The procession made its way from her home in Ditchling to the Woodvale Crematorium in Brighton; it was widely attended by the public. Ditchling was decorated with poppies, a symbol of military remembrance. Ahead of the funeral, the White Cliffs of Dover had images of Lynn projected onto them, as "We'll Meet Again" was being played across the English Channel. Her cortege was accompanied by members of the Royal Air Force, the British Army, the Royal Navy, and the Royal British Legion, as well as the Battle of Britain Spitfire flypast, which followed the cortege and passed over Ditchling three times (10 July 2020 was the 80th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain). Her coffin was draped in a Union Flag with a wreath. At the family service at the Woodvale Crematorium chapel, she was serenaded by a Royal Marine bugler. Her family have said a public memorial service will be organised for some time in the future.