The Force’s Sweetheart

December 13, 2020


Written by Mustafa Ali

At the age of seven, a young girl started performing publicly on stage. Daughter of a plumber and a dressmaker, Vera Lynn came from humble origins. At the age of two, she was diagnosed with diphtheritic croup and nearly died. Her first hits were “The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot” and “Red Sails in the Sunset,” two years later, her career will be shaped and defined by her participation in the Second World War.

At the beginning of the war, she would sing to the people using the London tube station to hide from the air raids. During this time, she had a popular hit, “We’ll Meet Again,” that made her quite famous in that era. The song resonated with the British populace for their lyrics, which included the following verse, “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.” This popularity led to Vera being chosen as the top favorite when British service members were asked to list their favorite artists. She was named “The Forces’ Sweetheart.” Her popularity continued as she kept performing songs requested by British troops and visiting hospitals to meet new mothers and send their letters to their husbands overseas. Her other contribution to the British war effort included entertaining the troops in Egypt, India, and Burma and appearing in three movies with wartime themes.

After the war, her song “Auf Wiedersehen, Sweetheart” became a top chart hit in the US. Her other two singles, “The Homing Waltz” and “Forget-Me-Not,” became popular in the UK. The three songs landed spots on the UK Singles Chart. She was the first British singer to hit a top chart in the US. She continued to have lots of success in her career, but her dedication to the troops who fought in WWII never went away.

In 1995, she sang outside the Royal Buckingham Palace in a ceremony that marked VE Day’s anniversary (The day in which the Allies accepted the unconditional surrender of Germany). Ten years later, on the same anniversary, she made an appearance with a speech praising the veterans of the war, reminding the younger audience of the sacrifices that they made for their country. She followed with a performance of her song, “We’ll Meet Again.” In that same year, during the Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance, she made a speech in which she said about the World War II veterans “These boys gave their lives, and some came home badly injured, and for some families, life would never be the same. We should always remember, we should never forget, and we should teach the children to remember”. For her contribution to the war, she received the War Medal 1939-1945 and the Burma Star for her work in Burma.

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