Vera Lynn was the “Forces Sweetheart” in World War Two. Vera Lynn was one of Britain’s premier entertainers during the war and along with the likes of Max Miller, Gracie Fields and Tommy Trinder kept up the spirits of the public when times were difficult, such as in the Blitz.
Vera Lynn was born in March 1917 in London. By the age of seven she was singing on a regular basis in working men’s clubs and she joined a dancing troupe in which she stayed until the age of fifteen. Vera Lynn made her first broadcast in 1935 when she san with the famous Joe Loss Orchestra. Before the war, she also worked with such luminaries as Charlie Kunz. However, it was during the war that Vera Lynn found fame.
In 1940, now married to Harry Lewis who acted as her manager, Vera Lynn decided to go solo. Along with the help of producer Howard Thomas, she started her own BBC radio show called “Sincerely Yours”. During this show, Vera Lynn would read out messages from loved ones and she was seen as the link between the men fighting abroad and their wives, girl friends etc. at home. She also released such songs as “We’ll Meet Again” and “White Cliffs of Dover”. Both these songs, and some others such as “Yours”, catapulted Vera Lynn into what would now be referred to as superstardom. She became the “Forces Sweetheart” and the most popular female entertainer in Britain. Vera Lynn also went abroad to entertain troops – such as Burma. By doing this she further cemented her status as Burma was hardly the most pleasant of environments to work in, and the journey out there would have been considered debilitating by some.
During the war, Vera Lynn also made three films:
We’ll Meet Again (made in 1942)
Rhythm Serenade (made in 1943)
One Exciting Night (made in 1944)
After the war ended in 1945, Vera Lynn returned to the variety circuit. Still Britain’s most popular female singer, she easily filled out halls and theatres. Vera Lynn also holds the distinction of being the first British artist to get to Number 1 in the American charts – a feat she achieved with the song “Auf Wiedersehn Sweetheart”. The song was also a huge hit in Great Britain – though it was released before record charts were compiled in the UK.
Throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s, Vera Lynn was a regular on both the radio and television. Her status in the world of entertainment was firmly established and in 1969, Vera Lynn was awarded the OBE. In 1975, in recognition of all that she had done in entertainment, Vera Lynn was made a Dame of the British Empire. She continues to do charitable work for organisations like the Burma Star.