The family of World War II forces sweetheart Vera Lynn says she has died. She was 103.
The statement says Lynn was surrounded by her close family. They did not give a cause of death.
“The family are deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers,” it read.
Among Lynn’s biggest hits were sentimental favorites such as “We’ll Meet Again” and “The White Cliffs of Dover”.
Lynn earned her nickname, “The Forces’ Sweetheart,” after coming top in a 1939 Daily Express poll that asked servicemen to name their favorite musical artists.
A plumber’s daughter, Vera Margaret Welch was born on March 20, 1917, in London’s blue-collar East Ham neighborhood.
She took her stage name from her grandmother’s maiden name. She started singing in social clubs at age 7 and dropped out of school by 11 when she started touring Britain with a traveling variety show. By 17 she was a band singer, and at 21 — when the war started — she was a known performer.
During the war, her down-to-earth charm reminded soldiers of the ones they left behind.
“I was somebody that they could associate with,” she once told The Associated Press. “I was an ordinary girl.”
In 1941, Lynn started her BBC radio show, “Sincerely Yours”, which would become wildly popular. On the 30-minutes programme, Lynn performed songs requested by the British troops abroad and sent them messages.
Because her show directly followed the Sunday evening news – a coveted slot – Lynn once declared: “Winston Churchill was my opening act.”
During the war, she toured several countries with the Entertainment National Service Association (ENSA), including India, Burma and Egypt, where she would perform in outdoor concerts for the British troops.
She also appeared in films such as “We’ll Meet Again” and “Rhythm Serenade”.
Lynn retired from singing in the 1990s, but in September 2009 topped the British album chart again with a greatest hits collection, “We’ll Meet Again — The Very Best of Vera Lynn.” It reached No. 1, despite competition from the release of remastered Beatles’ albums.