Vera Lynn facts: Iconic singer's age, songs, daughter, husband and more revealed

18 June 2020, 10:34 | Updated: 18 June 2020, 10:36

Vera Lynn in 1955
Vera Lynn in 1955. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Dame Vera Lynn was one of the UK's biggest national treasures, and was one of the last surviving stars of the pre-rock and roll era.

The Forces Sweetheart was the nation's biggest star during WWII, and remains a symbol of hope when times have got particularly challenging ever since.

Here are all the important facts about Vera Lynn:

  1. Who was Vera Lynn?

    Vera Lynn in 1945
    Vera Lynn in 1945. Picture: Getty

    Dame Vera Lynn was a British singer of traditional popular music. She was also a songwriter and actress, whose recordings and performances were hugely popular during WWII.

    She remained popular after the war, 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.

  2. What are Vera Lynn's biggest songs?

    Dame Vera Lynn 'The White Cliffs Of Dover' + 'We'll Meet Again' 1984

    She was widely known as 'the Forces' Sweetheart', and often gave outdoor concerts for the troops in Egypt, India, and Burma during the war.

    Her most well-known songs are:

    - We'll Meet Again

    - The White Cliffs of Dover

    - A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square

    - There'll Always Be an England

    - Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart

    - My Son, My Son

    - I Love This Land

    Read more: The Story of 'We'll Meet Again' by Vera Lynn

  3. How old was Vera Lynn and where is she from?

    Vera Lynn in 2009
    Vera Lynn in 2009. Picture: Getty

    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.

    Her old brother Roger Welch (1914–2016) was also a centenarian.

    In 1919, when Vera was two, she fell ill with diphtheritic croup and nearly died. She was sent to an isolation unit and was discharged after three months.

    She began performing publicly at the age of seven, and adopted her maternal grandmother Margaret Lynn's maiden name as her stage name when she was 11.

  4. Who was Vera Lynn's husband?

    Vera Lynn and Harry Lewis in 1975
    Vera Lynn and Harry Lewis in 1975. Picture: Getty

    In 1941, Vera Lynn married Harry Lewis, a clarinetist and saxophonist, and fellow member of Ambrose's orchestra, whom she had met two years earlier.

    Lewis worked as Lynn's manager after the war, and joined her on her international concerts, overseeing lighting and production of her shows. He also worked as a music publisher.

    He passed away in 1998, aged 83.

  5. Did Vera Lynn have any children?

    Dame Vera Lynn and daughter Virginia in 1964
    Dame Vera Lynn and daughter Virginia in 1964. Picture: Getty

    Vera and Harry had one child together.

    Their daughter Virginia Lewis was born in March 1946. Vera lived next door to her daughter in later life.

    Virginia - who is often mistaken for her mum due to their physical similarities - joined her on tour as her dresser, instead of going to a French finishing school aged 16.

    She has since had a variety of careers, including working for a fashion house, at Warner Bros Records in California and as a researcher for the BBC.

    She also trained as a complementary therapist in reflexology and holistic massage with aromatherapy, and ran her own complementary therapy business. She now leads her mum's music company and works as her agent, and is the vice-president of the Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity.