Vera Lynn was born in East Ham, a suburb in the East End of London. The first song she can ever remember singing was "I'm Sorry I Made You Cry". Her first introduction to singing in front of an audience was when she was seven years old.
When she was eleven, she joined a dance troupe and proved so proficient that by the time she was fifteen, she had her own troupe. She then joined a local dance band under the direction of Howard Baker and sang with him for two years at various types of functions from Dinners to dances at Town Halls. She then gave an audition to Joe Loss, who booked her immediately for his next broadcast.
After the broadcast, Charlie Kunz, who had been listening, gave her a contract for his regular series of broadcasts. She stayed with Charlie Kunz for eighteen months and her great chance came when Ambrose heard her sing and asked her to join his band. This was a great move forward, for at the time, The Ambrose Orchestra had a reputation of being one of the World's greatest dance orchestras.
After broadcasting with Ambrose for three years, she ventured out as a sole artiste and did three weeks variety, for which she was immediately booked to star in the show Applesauce, at the Holborn Empire with Max Miller and Florence Desmond. After the show had been running for a few weeks the theatre was bombed and the management, having a great success on their hands, promptly transferred it to the London Palladium where it ran for thirteen months.
During the run of the show, Vera Lynn started a weekly series of broadcasts called Sincerely Yours. It became a nation-wide success and when the Daily Express Newspaper ran a poll for most popular singer, Vera Lynn was voted number one, above Bing Crosby and Judy Garland. She was then dubbed the "Forces Sweetheart" (and she is still known as that). The Sincerely Yours programme ran for seven years. During this period she starred in another show for ten months, at the London Palladium, called Gangway.
In 1944 she went to Burma to sing to the troops and do concerts there. After this her daughter, Virginia, was born in 1946 and she retired for some time.
When she started again, she sent into a spectacular show in Blackpool and during this time did a radio show for America's "Tallulah Bankheads Big Show" and followed this with another show at the Palladium called "Peepshow". The broadcast she did with Tallulah Bankhead was such a great personal success that she was invited to New York to do eight more. Whilst in America she was signed to appear at the Adelphi Theatre in a show called London Laughs, which ran for two years. Whilst appearing at the Adelphi, she recorded the song "Auf Wiedersehn", which was a world-wide smash hit and sold 2.5 million copies.
After the Adelphi, she went back to the USA to appear in Caberet at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. Whilst there she appeared in such TV shows as the "Perry Como Show" "The Show of Shows" etc and was the first British Artiste to appear on American colour television. When commercial TV started in England, Vera Lynn was immediately booked for a series of her own, which ran for eighteen months and followed this with five years on BBC television in "Vera Lynn Sings". She has also appeared all over Europe, South Africa, Australiam New Zealand and Canada, had hit records and featured in films in all the European countries. She has appeared in eight command performances, has had her own disc jockey show, also her own Radio Show on Radio Luxembourg, which ran for four years. She received the OBE in 1969 and Prince Philip turned up at a surprise party given by the S.O.S. She also starred in a series of Vera Lynn specials on BBC TV for eight years. In 1973 she received the Ivor Novello Award. She also received the Show Business Personality Award of 1973, given by The Water Rats, a charitable organisation run by the theatrical profession of Great Britain.
In 1974 and 1975 she received the Music Publishers' Award and the Songwriters of Great Britain Award for her contribution to British music. In the Queen's Birthday Honours List in 1975 she was created a Dame of the British Empire. In 1976 the Memorial University of Newfoundland bestowed an honorary Doctorate of Laws upon her.
In 2000 she was voted "Spirit of the Century" by the people and in 2005, she was awarded the Lilian Keel Award for outstanding service by a woman during WWII, by the World War II Veterans Committee in America.
Her records and albums are as popular as they ever were.