Dame Vera Lynn, the much-loved wartime singer known as the Forces’ Sweetheart, has died aged 103.
The singer’s family confirmed she passed away this morning surrounded by close relatives.
“The family are deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers at the age of 103,” a statement said.
The singer shot to international acclaim for her morale-boosting visits to the front line to entertain troops in countries such as Egypt, India and Burma during World War Two.
Ahead of the 75th Anniversary of VE Day earlier this year, Dame Vera spoke of remembering the “brave boys and what they sacrificed for us”.
She added: “They left their families and homes to fight for our freedom and many lost their lives trying to protect us and our liberties.”
Her best-known song, We’ll Meet Again, was referenced by the Queen in her speech to the nation during lockdown just a few months ago, and an original recording of the track was played on live national television.
The broadcast pushed Dame Vera’s greatest hits album back into number 30 in the charts, and in May she became the oldest artist to score a top 40 album in the UK.
She was fondly remembered for lifting British spirits during the Blitz with songs The White Cliffs of Dover, There’ll Always Be An England, I’ll Be Seeing You and If I Only Had Wings.
In a special message before she turned 103 in March, Dame Vera urged the British public to “rediscover that same spirit that saw us through the war” to pull through the coronavirus pandemic.
“My songs reminded the boys of what they were really fighting for,” she once said. “Precious, personal things, rather than ideologies and theories.”
Sir Cliff Richard led the tributes to the singer, saying: “Dame Vera Lynn was truly an icon… Vera, thank you, God bless you. Rest in a very deserved peace.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “Dame Vera Lynn’s charm and magical voice entranced and uplifted our country in some of our darkest hours. Her voice will live on to lift the hearts of generations to come.”
Decca Records, the label that produced the bulk of Dame Vera’s discography, released a statement saying: “Decca Records are deeply saddened at the passing of the brightest and most enduring star on the label.
“Blessed with a pure voice and presence she has come to represent a whole era, and never stopped encouraging people to, in her own words on her recent birthday in March: ‘Keep smiling and keep singing’.