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PERHAPS SURPRISINGLY, AMONG THE GREAT BRITISH HEROES mentioned most often by British Heritage readers has been Dame Vera Lynn. If Winston Churchill brought the bulldog tenacity to Britain during the dark years of World War II, Vera Lynn expressed the nation’s heart in song.
A young Big Band singer before the war, in 1940 Vera Lynn began her own radio show, Sincerely Yours. Across the pretelevision, wartime airwaves, Lynn’s broadcast went beyond British shores to the nation’s troops abroad. She sang what came to be the great “standards” of the war and sent messages to soldiers overseas connecting them to home. Lynn toured abroad and performed for troops, visited hospitals and became an icon of British morale.
Songs such as “We’ll Meet Again,” “There’ll Be Bluebirds Over the White Cliffs of Dover,” “I Left My Heart at the Stagedoor Canteen,” “When the Lights Go On Again,” “There’ll Always Be an England,” “When They Sound the Last ‘All Clear,’” “Land of Hope and Glory” and “I’ll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time” spoke of the yearning for peace, the poignancy of wartime romance and the pride in their country. Vera Lynn’s songs remain timeless recordings of life in Britain during the World War II years, and they remain wonderful music. The last surviving major entertainer of the war years, Lynn was appointed a Dame Companion of the Order of the British Empire in 1975.
Dame Vera sang her last public performance in 1995 at Buckingham Palace, commemorating the 50th anniversary of VE Day. At a Trafalgar Square concert marking Britain’s 2005 VE Day celebrations, she made a surprise appearance. Dame Vera praised the veterans of her day and commended memory of their sacrifice to the generations of today. Then, she joined in singing a bit of “We’ll Meet Again” at age 88.
The British Heritage PUZZLER
Yes, welcome to the Puzzler. In issues to follow, we will set you, our well-informed, discerning readers, a challenge. The Puzzler may be a person, place or thing, a landmark or market town, an event of history or literature. Follow the clues to the answer. And let us know your success. Post us a card or an e-mail to [email protected]. Just let us know where you’re from, and we will pay tribute in the following issue—when the answer to the Puzzler will be revealed to all. And now, without further ado…the Puzzler.We begin with a battle. Many battles end with nightfall; this one ended with the light. Muddy, miserable and merciless is how it has been described. James Scott was executed nine days later. The battle features in one of England’s most famous fictional romances.
No, this one isn’t hard. Be a Puzzler player and figure it out. We would love to hear from you.