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Dame Vera Lynn was born Vera Margaret Welch on 20 March 1917 and adopted the stage name of Vera Lynn at the age of eleven. She was already an established singer by the time the war broke out in 1939, but during the Second World War had enormous success with songs like 'We'll Meet Again', 'The White Cliffs of Dover' and 'A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square'. She continued to have a successful career after the war, hosted her own variety TV series on BBC1 in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and was a guest on a number of other shows including the Morecambe & Wise Christmas Show in 1972. She also became involved in many different charities. She became a Dame in 1975 and was awarded the Burma Star in 1985. In 2009 she published an autobiography, Some Sunny Day, which became a number-one bestseller in hardback. In 2016 she was appointed Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for services to entertainment and charity.
Virginia Lewis-Jones is Dame Vera Lynn's daughter. She was born in 1946 and for a time accompanied her mother on tour as her dresser. She has had many careers including working in a fashion house, working for Warner Bros Records in California and as a researcher at the BBC. She was at the BBC for many years and worked on various shows including Parkinson, Crackerjack and the royal concerts. She later trained as a complementary therapist in reflexology and holistic massage with aromatherapy, and has her own complementary therapy business alongside running her mother's music company. She is also the vice-president of the Dame Vera Lynn Children's Charity. She lives in Ditchling, East Sussex with her husband Tom, who is a retired RAF pilot, and her mother.
If you are a fan of autobiographies, this book doesn't disappoint. Covering what historically has been one chapter of previous books on Dame Vera Lynn, this book finally offers much more detail on the events that cemented Dame Vera as The Forces Sweetheart. With fascinating insights and links to specific military events (prefect for those who enjoy their military history) as well as letters home and comments from soldiers and family who helped Dame Vera entertain the troops of Burma’s Forgotten Army. Carefully written and better by virtue of not being written with a celebrity angle. The book rewards the reader with a compelling timeline of events and brings to life a rollercoaster of challenges that awaited the young singer. For me, the element that makes this book shine is the information compiled from others, these letters and comments bring the book to life as a carefully balanced historical document wrapped up in an autobiography. This isn’t taking anything away from the Dame Vera Lynn story, just adds so much more to it! A very rewarding read.
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