Dame Vera Lynn, the Forces' Sweetheart, has died aged 103

She died 'surrounded by her close family', her assistant confirmed

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Dame Vera Lynn has died at the age of 103.

The singer and actress rose to fame during the Second World War, and was known as the Forces' Sweetheart. Her song We'll Meet Again boosted morale during the war.

The news of Lynn's death has been confirmed in a statement by personal assistant and family friend, Susan Fleet.

"The family are deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers at the age of 103," said Fleet.

"Dame Vera Lynn, who lived in Ditchling, East Sussex, passed away earlier today, June 18, 2020, surrounded by her close family."

Lynn celebrated her 103rd birthday on March 20 and, to mark the occasion, released a new video for We'll Meet Again, with a voiceover that addressed the British public amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are facing a very challenging time at the moment, and I know many people are worried about the future,” she said. “I’m greatly encouraged that despite these struggles, we have seen people joining together.

“Music is so good for the soul, and during these hard times we must all help each other to find moments of joy.”

Dame Vera Lynn's song 'We'll Meet Again' has been credited with boosting morale during the Second World War.
Dame Vera Lynn's song 'We'll Meet Again' has been credited with boosting morale during the Second World War.

We'll Meet Again was heavily featured in celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, on May 8, 2020.

Ahead of the VE Day celebrations, Lynn released a statement, remembering one of the most important days in British history.

“It marks the day when freedom returned across Europe, and when peace was restored after the most difficult of times," she said.

“As we commemorate 75 years since Victory in Europe, we must all remember the brave boys and what they sacrificed for us.

“This year, we must commemorate this special anniversary apart,” she added. “I hope that VE Day will remind us all that hope remains even in the most difficult of times and that simple acts of bravery and sacrifice still define our nation as the NHS works so hard to care for us.

“Most of all, I hope today serves as a reminder that however hard things get, we will meet again.”

Looking back at Dame Vera Lynn's life 

Lynn was born Vera Margaret Welch on March 20, 1917, in East Ham, London. She was on stage from a young age, and started performing publicly aged 7. When she was 11, she adopted the stage name Vera Lynn, taking her grandmother's maiden name as her surname.

She is best known for her 1939 song, We'll Meet Again, which she performed in London during the Second World War. Another of her wartime songs is (There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover. During the war, she performed for troops around the world, including in Egypt, Burma and India.

The Services sweetheart Vera Lynn shown here entertaining them at a concert. September 1940 (Photo by WATFORD/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
Dame Vera Lynn performing for troops in 1940, during the Second World War. Getty Images

In August 1941 she married fellow musician Harry Lewis, who was also from the East End of London. Lewis died in 1998, aged 83.

The couple had one child, Virginia Penelope Anne Lewis, born in 1946. It has been reported that Lynn and her daughter, now Virginia Lewis-Jones, lived next door to each other in Ditchling, Sussex, in the south of England, until her death.

She received her damehood in 1976. In 2000, she was named as "the Briton who best exemplified the spirit of the 20th century".