The War and the Artist

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 received a diagnosis 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.

The war years

In the beginning, 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," which made her quite famous in that era. The song resonated with the British populace for its lyrics. This verse is what made the song popular in times of conflict: "We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when, but I know we'll meet again some sunny day."

Her popularity made her a top favorite when British service members chose to list their favorite artists. As a matter of fact, she was named "The Forces' Sweetheart." Her popularity continued as she kept performing songs requested by British troops, visiting hospitals to meet new mothers, and send their letters to their husbands overseas. Moreover, her other contribution to the British war effort included entertaining the troops in Egypt, India, and Burma as well as appearing in three movies with wartime themes.

Continued success

After the war, her song "Auf Wiedersehen, Sweetheart" became a top chart hit in the US. Moreover, 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. As a matter of fact, She was the first British singer to hit a top chart in the US. While she continued to have a successful career, her dedication to the service members never went away.

Dedication and service

In 1995, she sang outside the Royal Buckingham Palace in a ceremony that marked VE Day's anniversary. 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". In honor of her contributions, she received the War Medal 1939-1945 and the Burma Star for her work in Burma.


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