Vera Lynn

March 20, 1917 – June 18, 2020

Vera Lynn Artistfacts

  • She was born Vera Margaret Welch in East Ham, Essex to a plumber Bertram Welch and dressmaker Annie Martin.
  • When Vera was two years old, she fell ill with diphtheritic croup and was sent to an isolation unit. She recalled to The Guardian: "One of my earliest memories is of being on my own in a tent surrounded by steaming kettles. I was discharged after three months, just in time for my third birthday. As I'd missed Christmas, I had my Christmas and birthday all in one – in March. Mum even found a Christmas tree."
  • She began performing publicly at seven in working men's clubs. Lynn recalled: "I spent hours rehearsing new songs while Mum doggedly accompanied me on the piano. The fear of forgetting the words in public often made me cry, but Mum was determined to put me on the stage and I never complained."
  • Vera adopted her maternal grandmother Margaret Lynn's maiden name as her performing moniker when she was 11.
  • Lynn began appearing on records released by dance bands, including those of Joe Loss and Charlie Kunz in her mid-teens. She released her first solo record, "Up the Wooden Hill to Bedfordshire," in 1936.
  • During the Second World War, Lynn's radio show, Sincerely Yours, was popular with British troops serving abroad and she gave outdoor concerts for the soldiers in Egypt, India and Burma. Lynn earned the nickname of the Forces' Sweetheart because of the way she helped boost morale during the conflict.
  • "We'll Meet Again" became her signature tune and one of the most popular songs of the war.
  • She kept her popularity after the war and had three songs on the very first UK singles chart, dated November 14, 1952.
  • Lynn became the first British singer to top the US singles chart when "Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart" spent nine weeks at #1 in 1952.
  • She made her last official public performance at London's Trafalgar Square in 2005 as part of a concert to mark the 60th anniversary of VE Day. However, Lynn continued to have chart success. In 2009, she became the oldest living artist ever to have a UK #1 album aged 92 with We'll Meet Again - The Very Best of Vera Lynn.
  • She was awarded the OBE in 1969, and subsequently became Dame Vera Lynn in 1975.
  • Dame Vera Lynn passed away at her East Sussex home surrounded by close relatives aged 103 on June 18, 2020.

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