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Dame Vera Lynn, DBE (born Vera Margaret Welch on 20 March 1917) is an Englishmarker singer whose career flourished during World War II. Nicknamed "The Forces' Sweetheart", the songs most associated with her are "We'll Meet Again" and "The White Cliffs of Dover".

Early life

Lynn was born Vera Margaret Welch on 20 March 1917, in East Hammarker, then in Essex, now part of Greater Londonmarker. Vera Lynn went to what is now called Brampton Primary School in East Ham. Her father was a plumber and Vera Welch grew up with her parents' Cockney accent, which can still be detected when she speaks. She began singing at the age of seven in a working men's club, and later adopted her grandmother's maiden name for her stage name. Lynn's first radio broadcast was in 1935 with the Joe Loss Orchestra. She was already being featured on the records of dance bands, including those led by Loss and Charlie Kunz. She made her first solo record on the Crown label in 1936, "Up the Wooden Hill to Bedfordshire". (The label was soon bought out by Decca.) After a short time with Loss, she sang with Kunz. Lynn then joined the dance band of Bert Ambrose.

War years

In 1940, one year after the beginning of World War II, Lynn began her own radio programme, Sincerely Yours, sending messages to British troops serving abroad. She and a quartet would perform songs most requested by the soldiers. Lynn also visited hospitals to interview new mothers and send personal messages to their husbands overseas. During the war years she would tour Egyptmarker, Indiamarker, Burmamarker, giving outdoor concerts for the troops.

In 1942, Lynn recorded the Ross Parker/Hughie Charles song "We'll Meet Again", also appearing in the film of that name. The nostalgic lyrics ("We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when, but I know we'll meet again some sunny day") were very popular during the war and became one of the emblematic songs of the war. Contrary to later reports, she neither sang nor recorded the "Rose of England" during this time and it was only in 1966 when her producer, David Gooch, selected it for her album More Hits of the Blitz that she became familiar with it. The album itself was a follow up to Hits of the Blitz produced by Norman Newell.

Post-war career

Lynn's Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart became the first record by a British performer to top the charts in the United Statesmarker, doing so for nine weeks. She also appeared regularly for a time on Tallulah Bankhead's U.S. radio programme, The Big Show. "Auf Wiedersehen, Sweetheart", along with "The Homing Waltz" and "Forget-Me-Not", gave Lynn a remarkable three entries on the first UK Singles Chart, a top 12 (which actually contained 15 songs owing to tied positions).

Lynn remained popular in the 1950s, peaking with "My Son, My Son", a number-one hit in 1954. Lynn co-wrote the song with Eddie Calvert. In early 1960, she left Decca Records after nearly 25 years, and joined EMI. She recorded for EMI's Columbia, MGM and HMV labels. She hit the top 10 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart in 1967 with "It Hurts To Say Goodbye".

Vera is also notable for being the only artist to have a chart span on the UK single and album charts reaching from the chart's inception to the 21st century — having three singles in the first ever singles chart, and most recently having a #1 album with We'll Meet Again — The Very Best Of Vera Lynn (see below).


Vera Lynn was appointed an Officer (OBE) of the Order of the British Empire in 1959, and a Dame Commander of the Order (DBE) in 1975. In 2000, she received a special "Spirit of the 20th Century" Award. In 1976, vera lynncharity Breast Cancer Research Trust, was founded, with Lynn its chairperson and later its president.

Later years

Lynn sang outside Buckingham Palacemarker in 1995 in a ceremony that marked the golden jubilee of VE Day. This was her last known public performance.

In 2002, at age of 85, Lynn became the president of the cerebral palsy charity SOS and hosted a celebrity concert on its behalf at Queen Elizabeth Hallmarker in Londonmarker.

The United Kingdom's VE Day Diamond Jubilee ceremonies in 2005 included a concert in Trafalgar Squaremarker in which Vera Lynn made a surprise appearance. She made a speech praising the veterans and calling upon the younger generation always to remember their sacrifice and joined in with a few bars of "We'll Meet Again". Following that year's Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance, Dame Vera encouraged the Welsh mezzo-soprano singer Katherine Jenkins to assume the mantle of "Forces Sweetheart".

In her speech Lynn said, "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 September 2008, Vera Lynn helped launch a new social history recording website called "The Times of My Life" at the Cabinet War Roomsmarker in Londonmarker.

Her autobiography Some Sunny Day was published in August 2009 at the age of ninety-two. She has already written two previous memoirs: Vocal Refrain in 1970, and We'll Meet Again in 1989.

On 18 February 2009, The Daily Telegraph reported that Vera Lynn was suing the British National Party (BNP) for using "White Cliffs of Dover" on an anti-immigration album without her permission. Dame Vera's lawyer claimed sales of the song would earn the BNP money and seemed to link Vera Lynn to the party's right-wing views by association.

On 13th September 2009, Dame Vera became the oldest living artist to make it into No. 1 in the UK album chart, at the age of 92. Her collection We'll Meet Again: The Very Best of Vera Lynn entered the chart at number 20 on 30th August, and then climbed to number 2 the following week, before reaching the top position. In doing this, she beat out the re-mastered Beatles' album of songs. In its third week the album went gold with sales of over 100,000.

Year Album Chart Positions Certifications Sales
UK IRE EU DUT NORmarker NZmarker DENmarker BELmarker AUS
2009 We'll Meet Again: The Very Best of Vera Lynn 1 48 8 83 32 23 28 10 21
  • UKmarker: Gold
  • UKmarker: 100,000+

Personal life

In 1941, Vera Lynn married Harry Lewis (died 1999), a clarinetist and saxophonist she had met two years earlier. They had one child, Virginia Penelope Anne Lewis.

Dame Vera has lived in Ditchlingmarker in Sussex since around the early 1960s.

In popular culture

Both Vera Lynn and "We'll Meet Again" feature in Pink Floyd's 1979 album The Wall. They are directly cited in the track "Vera". In the live version of The Wall, Is There Anybody Out There: The Wall Live 1980-1981, "We'll Meet Again" opens the concert before the show starts. It serves as a link between band member Roger Waters and his father, who was killed during World War II. The film The Wall begins with Vera Lynn singing "The Little Boy that Santa Claus Forgot."

Vera Lynn and the words "We'll meet again some day" are mentioned in the Kinks' song "Mr. Churchill Says".

At the end of Stanley Kubricks "Dr. Strangelove-How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb" a cryptic rendition of "We'll meet again" is played as many nuclear explosions are set off-showing it is the end of the world.

Recordings by Vera Lynn

  • 1935
*"The General's Fast Asleep"; "No Regrets"; "When the Poppies Bloom Again"; "I'm in the Mood for Love" (Rex Records); "Sailing Home With The Tide" (Rex Records); "Thanks A Million" (Rex Records); "Red Sails in the Sunset"
  • 1936
*"Heart Of Gold" (Rex Records); "A Star Fell Out Of Heaven" (Rex Records); "Crying My Heart Out For You" (Rex Records); "It's Love Again" (Rex Records); "Did Your Mother Come From Ireland?" (Rex Records): "Have You Forgotten So Soon?" (Rex Records); "Everything Is Rhythm" (Rex Records)
  • 1937
*"So Many Memories"; "Roses in December"; "When My Dream Boat Comes Home" (Rex Records); "Goodnight, My Love" (Rex Records); "All Alone In Vienna" (Rex Records)
  • 1939
*"We'll Meet Again"
  • 1940
*"Careless"; *"Until You Fall in Love"; "It's a Lovely Day Tomorrow"; "When You Wish upon a Star"; "Memories Live Longer Than Dreams"; "There'll Come Another Day"; " The White Cliffs of Dover".
  • 1941
*"Smilin' Through"; "When They Sound the Last All Clear"; "Yours"; "My Sister and I"; "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire".
  • 1942
*"You're in my Arms".
  • 1948
*"You Can't Be True, Dear" (1948); "Again".
  • 1952
*"Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart"; "If You Love Me ".
  • 1954 onwards
*"My Son, My Son" (UK number 1, 1954); "The Homing Waltz"; "Forget Me Not"; "Windsor Waltz"; "Who Are We"; "A House With Love In It"; "The Faithful Hussar (Don't Cry My Love)"; "Travellin' Home"; Hits Of The Sixties (album); "By the Time I Get to Phoenix"; "Everybody's Talking"; "The Fool On The Hill".

  • 1967
"It Hurts To Say Goodbye" (1967, US Easy Listening survey, her last US chart record)

  • 1982
*"I Love This Land" (Falklands War song).

  • Albums recorded from 1960 onwards
*"Yours" 1961
*"As Time Goes By" 1961
*"Hits Of The Blitz" 1962
*"Among My Souvenirs" 1964
*"More Hits Of The Blitz" 1966
*"Hits Of The 60's — My Way" 1970
*"Favourite Sacred Songs" 1972
*"Christmas With Vera Lynn" 1976
*"Vera Lynn In Nashville" 1977

  • In March 2007 EMI issued a 2CD set of all Vera Lynn's single only recordings from her EMI contract from 1960 to 1977.



  • Lynn, Vera (1975). Vocal Refrain. London: W.H. Allen.
  • Lynn, Vera and Cross, Robin (1989). We'll Meet Again. London: Sidgwick & Jackson.
  • Lynn, Vera (2009). Some Sunny Day. London: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780007318155


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