Dame Vera Lynn’s life timeline

1917

Vera Margaret Welch was born on March 20th into a working-class family in East Ham.

1924

Began singing in working men’s clubs at the age of 7.

1928

Assumed her grandmother’s maiden name (Lynn) and joined a singing troupe called Madame Harris’s Kracker Kabaret.

1931

After leaving school at the age of 11, Vera Lynn was spotted by a booking agent who found work for her performing at parties and events.

1935

Sang the chorus on several big band records, as well as performing on the radio with the Joe Loss Orchestra and the Casani Club Band.

1936

Recorded several songs with the Casani Club Band and released her first solo recording, “Up the Wooden Hill to Befordshire.”

1937

Teamed up with bandleader Benjamin (“Bert”) Ambrose and performed on his radio program, Life from Mayfair, until 1940.

1939

Premiered what would eventually become her trademark song – “We’ll Meet Again.”

1941

Was given her own BBC radio show, Sincerely Yours, Vera Lynn. In the same year, Vera married musician Harry Lewis, who would also become her manager, a union which lasted six decades before his death.

1942

Released what would become another of her trademark songs, “The White Cliffs of Dover,” epitomising the sentiment of the war years. She also appeared in three films, one of which was We’ll Meet Again, when she portrayed a character based on herself.

1944

Joined the Entertainment National Services Association (ENSA), spending the spring and summer performing for troops stationed in Egypt and India. The Army took over when Vera travelled to Burma, where she stayed in grass huts and continued performing impromptu concerts for the soldiers.

1945

Once the war had ended, Dame Vera began touring in Europe and continued broadcasting her radio program.

1948

The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans was formed. Dame Vera was an enormous supporter and patron of this cause for over 50 years, attending events whenever she could and regularly promoting the work of the charity.

1952

Dame Vera became the first British artist to have a number one in the U.S. charts with “Auf Wiederseh’n Sweetheart” which stayed at the top for an impressive nine weeks. This was also the year that she had the first of her 10 top 40 hits in the UK official charts.

1960

Left Decca Records to join EMI and continued touring abroad.

1969

Became an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

1975

Awarded Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE).

1992

Founded the Dame Vera Lynn School for Parents with Children with Cerebral Palsy. This was reformed in 2001 as The Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity, supporting children with cerebral palsy and other motor learning impairments.

1995

Performed in front of thousands of people outside Buckingham Palace to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of the war. Dame Vera would also go on to perform at the next anniversary 10 years later.

2000

Named the Briton who best exemplified the spirit of the 20th Century.

2009

Became the oldest living artist to have a number one album in England with We’ll Meet Again: The Very Best of Vera Lynn.

2016

Vera was awarded the Companion of Honour by the Queen on 28th July 2016.

2017

Became the oldest living artist to have an album in the top ten of the British charts with 100, which was released in honour of her 100th birthday.

2020

Passed away on the 18th of June at the age of 103.