October 20, 2020

Dame Vera Lynn: Spitfire flypast marks funeral

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Media captionTwo Spitfires fly over Dame Vera’s Ditchling home

Two Spitfires flew over the funeral procession of Dame Vera Lynn as family, friends and fans said goodbye to the Forces’ Sweetheart.

Her cortege was accompanied by the Battle of Britain flypast as it travelled through Ditchling in East Sussex at midday.

Dame Vera died last month at the age of 103 and her funeral is being held at Woodvale Crematorium in Brighton.

The World War Two fighter planes made three passes over the village.

Hundreds of people had gathered to await the arrival of the cortege and the crowd applauded as the aircraft flew over.

Representatives from the Royal British Legion stood with flags as they waited to honour Dame Vera.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Shops in the village are displaying portraits of Dame Vera

The funeral procession stopped at the crossroads in the centre of Ditchling, where the singer lived for 50 years, to allow people to pay their respects.

Later, as the procession made its way out of the village, there were shouts of “hip hip hooray” from the crowd.

The cheers were followed by a spontaneous rendition of We’ll Meet Again, one of the songs Dame Vera was well-known for.

A private service at the crematorium chapel is expected to include a bugler from the Royal Marines providing music.

The family said a full memorial service would be held at a later date.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption People applauded as the Battle of Britain flypast took place

Dame Vera’s daughter, Virginia Lewis-Jones, said Ditchling had always been special to her mother.

“That is why we know she would be touched that so many people want to pay their respects,” she said.

She also urged people to continue to back the causes that were important to her mother, adding: “We are sure her music will endure forever but most importantly, we hope that people will continue to support those charities that she cared about so much.

“It means so much to us to see my mother’s legacy living on.”

At the scene

By Peter Whittlesea, BBC News

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Two Spitfires made three passes over Ditchling as hundreds of people lined the streets

Every lamppost in the narrow streets of Ditchling bears a large poppy.

Union flags flutter in the breeze and shop windows display portraits of the woman who became known as the Forces’ Sweetheart.

Camera crews and photographers have descended on the village along with servicemen and women who have come to pay their respects.

It is a fond farewell for Dame Vera.

A picture of Dame Vera and a video were projected on to Dover’s white cliffs ahead of her funeral.

The lyrics of We’ll Meet Again appeared as the music was played across the English Channel.

The projection on the 350ft cliffs was visible to ships and planes and could also be seen from the main road and some back gardens.

The singer was best known for performing hits such as We’ll Meet Again to troops on the front line.

Dame Vera, who had sold more than a million records by the age of 22, was also remembered for singing The White Cliffs Of Dover, There’ll Always Be An England, I’ll Be Seeing You, Wishing and If Only I Had Wings.

Image copyright U Music
Image caption Dame Vera’s face and the lyrics to We’ll Meet Again were projected on the white cliffs
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Dame Vera performing for servicemen in 1940