DITCHLING, England (Reuters) – A Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flew past the funeral of Vera Lynn on Friday, honouring a singer who became a symbol of hope during World War Two and again during the coronavirus pandemic before her death last month at 103.
Known as the Forces’ Sweetheart, Lynn died surrounded by family after a lifetime in which she recorded such songs as “The White Cliffs of Dover” and “We’ll Meet Again”.
Fans and members of the armed forces lined the streets of her village on the southern coast of England to show their respects as her coffin, draped in the flag of the Union, was driven slowly towards a private funeral.
A Spitfire and a Hurricane later roared over the village on a bright Friday morning, to loud applause.
The daughter of a plumber in London’s East End, Lynn was singing in working men’s clubs by the age of seven.
She began radio broadcasts and singing with bands in the late 1930s. But it was her wartime songs that won her fame and led to British tanks trundling into battle with “Vera” painted on their sides and brought her more than 1,000 written offers of marriage from servicemen.
Lynn’s biggest hit had a German title and came after the war. “Auf Wiederseh’n Sweetheart”, backed by a soldiers’ chorus, sold more than 12 million copies worldwide and made her the first British performer to top the U.S. hit parade.
The song made her a star in the United States in the 1950s.
She was back in the headlines in April this year when Queen Elizabeth used words from Lynn’s song to tell the country “We will meet again” and urged people to show resolve during the coronavirus lockdown.
Buckingham Palace said on the day of Lynn’s death, on June 18, that the queen would send a private message of condolence to the family.
(Writing by Kate Holton; editing by Stephen Addison)