The stories behind five of Dame Vera Lynn’s best-loved hits

Forces sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn produced a catalogue of music that inspired British servicemen and women at home and abroad.

Here are some of her best-loved hits.

– We'll Meet Again

Dame Vera's breakout song was written in 1939 at the outset of the Second World War by popular composers Ross Parker and Hughie Charles.

Its lyrics were a message of hope and comfort to those who feared they would never see their loved ones again, and buoyed Dame Vera's burgeoning career.

It inspired a popular 1943 film of the same name, which saw Dame Vera play a fictionalised version of herself – a young singer who cheers British soldiers with her voice.

The song still resonates with those who lived through the war.

– (There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover

On a clear day, Britain's towering white coastline could be seen by servicemen across the English Channel fighting in France.

Composed in 1941 by Walter Kent to lyrics by Nat Burton, The White Cliffs Of Dover was an ode to those cliffs that symbolised home.

Dame Vera popularised the song with her version, and it became one of the best-known Second World War standards.

Its lyrics refer to pilots "braving those angry skies" and describe the "light of hope in their eyes".

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Dame Vera Lynn: Her life in pictures
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Dame Vera Lynn: Her life in pictures
The stories behind five of Dame Vera Lynn’s best-loved hits
(Original Caption) British singer and "The forces' sweetheart" during WW2, Vera Lynn. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
Popular British singer Dame Vera Lynn, in action for the BBC. Original Publication: People Disc - HF0435 (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Dame Vera Lynn
Dame Vera Lynn Dies, Aged 103
British singer Dame Vera Lynn, who was very popular during WWII, has died at the age of 103
Dame Vera Lynn has died at the age of 103. The singer's sentimental songs became something of a soundtrack to the effort in the Second World War, earning her a damehood and OBE.
Dame Vera Lynn, who has died at the age of 103, found fame as the singing morale-booster for British troops – and those waiting at home for their return – during the Second World War.
In Pictures: The life of Dame Vera Lynn
In pictures: Dame Vera Lynn's life and career
UNSPECIFIED - circa 1970: (AUSTRALIA OUT) Photo of Vera LYNN (Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)
Obituary: Dame Vera Lynn, a symbol of resilience and hope
In Pictures: The life of Dame Vera Lynn
In Pictures: The life of Dame Vera Lynn
In Pictures: The life of Dame Vera Lynn
In Pictures: The life of Dame Vera Lynn
In Pictures: The life of Dame Vera Lynn
In Pictures: The life of Dame Vera Lynn
VE Day: How to join the Dame Vera Lynn singalong and what are the lyrics?
NEW YORK - CIRCA 1950: English singer Dame Vera Lynn poses for a portrait circa 1950 in New York city, New York. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Dame Vera Lynn calls for ‘moments of joy’ as she celebrates 103rd birthday
Dame Vera Lynn re-releases iconic World War 2 song 'We'll Meet Again' in coronavirus pandemic
Vera Lynn (left) of forces Sweetheart fame, partners celebrated American songstress Dinah Shore in an impromtu rendering of sophisticated Lady at the London Palladium on August 31st 1948 (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 10: Vera Lynn and nine-year-old Hester Goldstein at a Christmas party for men, women and child victims of infantile paralysis. The party was held on 11 December 1949 in Seymour Hall, Marylebone, London. The attendees came from all over the UK and were driven to London in Red Cross ambulances. Vera Lynn, originally Vera Margaret Lewis (1917-), began singing in working men�s clubs at the age of seven. In 1935 she made her first radio broadcast. She went on to become the most popular female vocalist in Britain and earned a reputation as the �Forces� Sweetheart� with British Forces overseas during World War II. Created a Dame of the British Empire in 1975, she is particularly remembered for singing the wartime classic 'We'll Meet Again'�. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
British singer Vera Lynn, nicknamed the 'Forces' sweetheart'. Original Publication: Picture Post - 1992 - Girls Of The Victory Broadcast - pub. 1945 (Photo by Kurt Hutton/Getty Images)
19th May 1945: Forces sweetheart Vera Lynn singing with an orchestra for a broadcast. Original Publication: Picture Post - 1992 - Girls of the Victory Broadcast - pub. 1945 (Photo by Kurt Hutton/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Vera Lynn with her baby. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
You Can't Do Without Love, US lobbycard, Vera Lynn, (right), 1944. (Photo by LMPC via Getty Images)
Housewife Vera Lynn at home with her daughter Virginia, 17th March 1957. (Photo by Staff/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
Singer Vera Lynn and comedian Harry Secombe, right, sign autographs at the tea tables during the 'Not Forgotten' Association annual Christmas party, at the Royal Riding School, Buckingham Palace. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
(L-R) Unknown, Dion, Vera Lynn, Del Shannon - posed, 1958. (Photo by Harry Hammond/V&A Images/Getty Images)
Vera Lynn, who manages to find time for her hobby, painting, between her duties as mother, housewife and her singing engagements, finishes a portrait of her ten year old daughter, Virginia, at their home in Finchley. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
English singer Vera Lynn with her daughter Virginia at the piano, September 1956. (Photo by Chris Ware/Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
English singer, songwriter and actress, Vera Lynn, London, 1955. (Photo by Baron/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
THE BIG SHOW -- Air Date 01/27/1952 -- Pictured: Singer Vera Lynn -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
'Forces Sweetheat' singer Vera Lynn in London. (Photo by PA/PA Images via Getty Images)
English singer, songwriter and actress Vera Lynn with Prince Philip at her surprise party to celebrate her DBE (Dame Commander) award, UK, 11th February 1969. (Photo by Len Trievnor/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 22: Vera Lynn December 1964. Portrait of Vera Lynn, 1964. (Photo by Manchester Daily Express/SSPL/Getty Images)
Investitures at Buckingham Palace. Vera Lynn leaves carrying her O.B.E, 11th February 1969. (Photo by Young/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
31st December 1965: British singer Vera Lynn rehearsing her new radio show. (Photo by McCabe/Express/Getty Images)
Mother and daughter singing in the rain.Celebrated wartime singer Vera Lynn (Right) how Vera Lewis, reached Sydney by BOAC airliner from London with her daughter, Virginia Lewis, 20 years.They play to stay in Sydney for a few days before leaving for a five weeks tour of New Zealand. January 1, 1966. (Photo by Trevor James Robert Dallen/Fairfax Media via Getty Images).
CANADA - SEPTEMBER 01: Vera Lynn: Reader says the recent Vera Lynn concert was tremendous; especially in light of the fact that only two policemen were needed to keep the crowd in line. (Photo by Dick Darrell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Dame Vera Lynn relaxes at her press conference at the La Causerie Restaurant at the Showground today. February 9, 1978. (Photo by John Patrick O'Gready/Fairfax Media via Getty Images).
English singer, songwriter and actress Vera Lynn, UK, 9th March 1976. (Photo by Milton Wordley/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Singer and actress Vera Lynn, 'The Forces' Sweetheart', posing with the score for 'We'll Meet Again', 1972. (Photo by Tony Evans/Timelapse Library Ltd./Getty Images)
Singer Vera Lynn in the all star television gala performance in aid of the British Commonwealth Games teams. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
English singer Vera Lynn performs on a television show in London circa 1970. (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)
Comedian Harry Secombe and singer Vera Lynn in London when they had a preview of a film to be used in a television appeal on behalf of the Stars Organistaion for Spastics on BBC One. Both are Vice Presidents of the fundraising organisation. (Photo by PA/PA Images via Getty Images)
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– A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square

Stars including Sir Rod Stewart, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin and even Twiggy have recorded versions of this popular love song.

But it was Dame Vera's version that captured the hearts of the British listening public, indelibly linking it with the Second World War.

The tune was written in the small French fishing district of Le Lavandou, shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, and refers to one of Mayfair's large leafy squares.

It was sung by Petula Clark at the 60th anniversary of the end of the conflict, and again by Katherine Jenkins at a star-studded concert celebrating the 70th anniversary of VE Day in 2015.

– There'll Always Be An England

Written by the duo behind We'll Meet Again, There'll Always Be An England is perhaps Dame Vera's most overtly patriotic song.

With lyrics that reference the Empire, country lanes, and cottages tucked beside fields of grain, it carried a message of hope to servicemen abroad.

In a satirical twist, 70s punk rockers Sex Pistols came on stage to the tune, and named one of their live DVDs after it.

2009 Poppy Appeal Launch - London
Dame Vera Lynn (Zak Hussein/PA)

– Auf Wiederseh'n, Sweetheart

With this song, Dame Vera became in 1952 the first foreign artist to reach number one on the US Billboard charts.

It was written by German composer Eberhard Storch around 1950, for his wife who was confined to hospital with a long-term illness.

The story goes that Dame Vera was on holiday in Switzerland when she heard people singing the song in a beer parlour.

When she returned home to England, she recorded the track with the soldiers and airmen of HM Forces and the Johnny Johnston Singers.

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