Dame Vera Lynn unforgettable legacy will be remembered with a military aerial display, consisting of a Spitfire and Hurricane plans, at her funeral today (July 10) where she is laid to rest. The 103-year-old passed away in the early hours of June 18 “surrounded by her close family”, just over a month after Victory in Europe (VE) Day 75th anniversay. The singer became an iconic figure during World War 2 with hits including ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’, ‘There’ll Always Be an England’ and countless others. In the years that followed the end of the war, many attested to her positive impact on morale for soldiers abroad and those separated from loved ones back at home. Her poignant anthem ‘We’ll Meet Again’ was belted out by Britons across the nation at the VE Day celebrations on May 8. The beloved crooner, who became a Dame in 1975, continued to support “her boys” after the war, which helped to stretch her legacy from the Forties to the modern day. Not only that, but unearthed accounts reveal she will be honoured in the Year 3000 too when a time capsule is opened by future generations.
When the new millennium dawns and the world wakes up to January 1, 3000, Dame Vera will be waiting to inspire Britons once more.
Inside a 100-cubic-metre airtight vault on the grounds of Guildford Castle, in Surrey, wartime relics have been sealed away in a time capsule to remind the public of the past.
Among the treasure trove is a Mini, a Sony Walkman, future technology predictions, letters from Prime Ministers and other notable figures, alongside a number of items from Dame Vera.
She was voted ‘Personality of the Century’ by the British public and was immortalised within the Millennium Vault 2000, after a poll of nearly 3,000 people selected her from 120 notable figures.
Dame Vera gifted a number of her own personal wartime items, including a signed autobiography and a life-sized cardboard cut out showing the singer in her prime in World War 2.
At the time, she told the BBC: “Sixty years ago there was a poll with the service chaps in France and I came out top, that’s how I got called ‘The Forces’ Sweetheart’.
“Little did I think that 60 years hence I would win another poll.”
The steel doors of the time capsule, which is located on the side of a hill, were welded shut by Dame Vera and encased in tonnes of concrete to protect it.
Peter Sutton, who organised the vault, said: “We thought it was important to ‘send’ someone in the public to the future in the time capsule – someone who the people of the year 2000 regarded as being particularly special.
“Dame Vera was an excellent choice and a worthy ambassador to present to the people of the next millennium.”
After World War 2, a number of celebrities praised her wartime contributions and BBC radio star Sir Harry Secombe declared: “Churchill didn’t beat the Nazis. Vera sang them to death.”
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She thought her singing career was over when Britain first bravely stood against Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany but was told she would be “much more useful” to war efforts as an entertainer.
The performer travelled to military bases across the UK before risking her life for “her boys” overseas at camps in Egypt, India and Burma.
She also hosted a weekly BBC radio show ‘Sincerely Yours’ in which she read out heartbreaking love letters to those on the frontlines, announced the safe delivery of babies and performed her beloved hits.
When the show was at its most popular there were more than 2,000 requests a week – the show lasted 12 episodes until 1942 when it was cancelled due to fears that it may “soften” those at war.
Despite her honourable contributions Dame Vera always remained incredibly humble about her achievements.
She said: “I tried to keep people’s spirits up with music and so did many other performers.
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“We also spent time with our families and, of course, food was sometimes very scarce but we got through it because we knew we had to.”
Her most synonymous wartime ballad ‘We’ll Meet Again’ provided comfort for many during the darkest days of conflict.
Reflecting on the anthem Dame Vera thought it transcended the generations and was even relevant during the coronavirus lockdown too.
She said: “I think people enjoy it because it speaks to the feeling of separation and the hope of reunion.
“Those lyrics are especially poignant with the current situation in our country.”