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

18 June 2020, 10:25 | Updated: 18 June 2020, 10:38

Dame Vera Lynn, the Forces' Sweetheart, has died aged 103
Dame Vera Lynn, the Forces' Sweetheart, has died aged 103. Picture: PA • Dame Vera Lynn

By Rory O'Connor

Dame Vera Lynn has died aged 103, her family have sadly confirmed.

Known as the Forces' Sweetheart, Dame Vera helped raise morale in World War Two and is best known for her song 'We'll Meet Again' and 'The White Cliffs Of Dover'.

The singer's family confirmed she passed away on Thursday morning surrounded by her close relatives.

A statement said: "The family are deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain's best-loved entertainers at the age of 103.

Dame Vera Lynn performs 'The White Cliffs of Dover' at Buckingham Palace VE Day celebrations

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

Dame Vera performed for the troops during World War Two in countries including India and Burma.

We'll Meet Again

Last month, Dame Vera became the oldest artist to achieve a top 40 album in the UK, when her greatest hits album re-entered the charts at number 30.

One of her biggest songs, 'We'll Meet Again', was referenced by the Queen earlier this year during a speech about the public being separated from families and friends during the coronavirus lockdown.

Paying tribute, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said her "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," he said.

Dame Vera Lynn in 1999
Dame Vera Lynn in 1999. Picture: PA

The Royal British Legion described her as "an unforgettable British icon, symbol of hope to the Armed Forces community past and present".

Dame Vera remained popular after WWII, often appearing on radio and TV in the UK and the US.

In 2009, aged 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.

She devoted her time to charity work connected with ex-servicemen, disabled children and breast cancer. In 2000, she was named the Briton who best exemplified the spirit of the 20th century.

Born Vera Margaret Welch, she was born in East Ham, Essex, now part of the London Borough of Newham, on March 20, 1917. She turned 103 in 2020.

She was the daughter of plumber Bertram Samuel Welch (1883–1955) and dressmaker Annie Martin (1889–1975), who married in 1913.

This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly.