UK

Dame Vera Lynn Honoured With Spitfire Flypast Before Funeral

Two of the aircraft conducted a flypast in honour of the singer, known as the Forces' Sweetheart, before a private funeral service was held.

Dame Vera Lynn has been honoured with a Spitfire flypast before a private funeral service was held.

Two of the aircraft from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight soared over the village of Ditchling to remember the singer, known as the Forces' Sweetheart, who died last month aged 103.

The funeral cortege paused as the Spitfires made three passes over the East Sussex village.

The cortege then made its way out of the village as it continued its route to Brighton's Woodvale Crematorium, bid farewell by shouts from the crowd.

It was followed by a spontaneous rendition of 'We'll Meet Again', one of Dame Vera's most well-known songs.

Twelve members of tri-service personnel lined the route of the funeral cortege through Ditchling, while two personnel from each service were part of the bearer party carrying the coffin, which was draped in a Union flag, into the crematorium.

Service personnel carry the coffin of forces sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn into the Brighton Crematorium, East Sussex
Tri-service personnel carried Dame Vera Lynn's coffin into the crematorium (Picture: PA).

A bugler from the Royal Marines was drafted in to provide a musical tribute inside the chapel, whilethe Ministry of Defence was represented by a senior officer who, along with the bugler and the small family group, were among the funeral service's only attendees.

A full memorial service will be held at a later date.

The Defence Secretary paid tribute to Dame Vera Lynn, saying: "Her support [during World War Two] helped sustain the fortitude of British personnel deployed around the world and those waiting for them to return.

"We remember her life with fond memories, and all that she gave to our country in its time of need." 

The Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, said the military were "proud" to be part of today's events.

"The Armed Forces will forever be grateful to Dame Vera Lynn," he said.

"Her lasting legacy of lifting spirits will remain," Gen Carter added.

Two Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfires fly over Ditchling in honour of Dame Vera Lynn
Two Spitfires flew over Dame Vera's East Sussex village in her honour (Picture: PA).

Virginia Lewis-Jones, Dame Vera’s daughter, said: "We want to thank everyone for their tremendous support over the past few weeks.

"My mother always appreciated receiving messages from all over the world, and Ditchling was always particularly special to her, that is why we know she would be touched that so many people want to pay their respects."

Dame Vera Lynn was best known for her songs during the Second World War and her morale-boosting visits to troops fighting abroad. 

She was best known for songs such as 'We'll Meet Again', 'The White Cliffs Of Dover', 'There’ll Always Be An England', 'I’ll Be Seeing You', 'Wishing' and 'If Only I Had Wings'.

In May, Dame Vera became the oldest artist to reach the top 40 in the UK album charts when her greatest hits compilation re-entered at number 30.