When Dame Vera Lynn said ‘we’ll meet again’ to me – the incredible enduring appeal of a British wartime legend

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, Professor of English Literature, University of Oxford

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

“We will meet again,” the Queen declared in an April 5 Coronavirus address the UK. Suddenly, a line the British people indelibly associate with the second world war was in the news again. The monarch’s reassurance to people separated from loved ones by lockdown struck a chord.

The phrase will reverberate again in the UK on the 75th anniversary of VE Day, when the country marks the end of the conflict. After the Queen makes another address at 9pm, Britons will be invited to sing We’ll Meet Again, the song made famous by the original “Forces’ Sweetheart”, Dame Vera Lynn, who is now 103 years old.

In August 2005, I interviewed Dame Vera. As a university lecturer specialising in war literature, I was fascinated by the way that she was relentlessly dragged back to the past (the second world war) and under equally relentless demand to sing a song about the future. A courteous handwritten reply came back to my request for an interview, inviting me to her home in Ditchling, East Sussex. As I drove, the weather was bright and I smiled to myself at the thought that I was going to meet Dame Vera on a “sunny day”.

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Vera Lynn visits a munitions factory UK 1941

 

Image: Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer / Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.