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Hundreds line streets to say goodbye as Dame Vera Lynn’s funeral takes place

PUBLISHED: 13:10 10 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:54 10 July 2020

The funeral cortege of Dame Vera Lynn is escorted by representatives of the three armed forces as it makes its way through the village of Ditchling, East Sussex. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

The funeral cortege of Dame Vera Lynn is escorted by representatives of the three armed forces as it makes its way through the village of Ditchling, East Sussex. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Hundreds of people have turned out to pay their respects to Dame Vera Lynn.

The funeral cortege of Dame Vera Lynn is escorted by representatives of the three armed forces. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA WireThe funeral cortege of Dame Vera Lynn is escorted by representatives of the three armed forces. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

The singer, who entertained troops with morale-boosting visits to the front line during the Second World War, died aged 103 on June 18.

She was born and raised in East Ham and lived in Upney Lane, Barking during the Second World War, but spent the later part of her life living in Ditchling, East Sussex.

Crowds lined the village’s streets as the funeral cortege passed through on Friday, July 10, with her coffin accompanied by three members of the Armed Forces.

Representatives from the Royal British Legion were among those gathered, while a poppy wreath and a flag with ‘Dame Vera RIP’ written on it were placed at the Ditchling war memorial.

A display in memory of Dame Vera Lynn in Ditchling, where she lived, ahead of her funeral. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA WireA display in memory of Dame Vera Lynn in Ditchling, where she lived, ahead of her funeral. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

READ MORE: Forces’ sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn dies aged 103

Two Second World War fighter planes soared over the village as a tribute before the singer’s coffin was driven to Brighton for a private funeral.

As the funeral cortege made its way out of the village where Dame Vera lived for 60 years, there were shouts of “hip hip hooray” from the crowd, followed by a spontaneous rendition of her song We’ll Meet Again.

Among those to travel to bid a final farewell to Dame Vera was Second World War re-enactor Steve George.

Two spitfires from the Battle of Britain Memorial flight pass overhead in tribute to Dame Vera Lynn: Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA WireTwo spitfires from the Battle of Britain Memorial flight pass overhead in tribute to Dame Vera Lynn: Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

The 59-year-old, from Crawley, West Sussex, how he met her at a re-enactment in a marquee surrounded by veterans.

He said: “We had a group photograph with Dame Vera, we were all gathered round her dressed as the different generals.

“She was wonderful, absolutely wonderful, she had time for everybody.”

Avril Gaynor first met Dame Vera as a 10-year-old after becoming friends with her daughter Virginia.

The coffin of Dame Vera Lynn was draped in a Union Jack flag. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA WireThe coffin of Dame Vera Lynn was draped in a Union Jack flag. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

She said: “It’s so sad but I am glad she is getting a big send-off - to put it mildly.

“She was a wonderful, wonderful lady and I am so pleased that so many people want to come to pay tribute to her.”

READ MORE: Timeline celebrating Dame Vera Lynn’s 100th birthday

Avril added: “I loved going to her house. She could take us through the Burma campaign and I thought it was wonderful.”

A wreath of poppies and a flag were placed on the war memorial in Ditchling. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA WireA wreath of poppies and a flag were placed on the war memorial in Ditchling. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Virginia Lewis-Jones, Dame Vera’s daughter, thanked well-wishers for their “tremendous support”.

She said: “My mother always appreciated receiving messages from all over the world. We know she would be touched that so many people want to pay their respects.”

A full memorial service for Dame Vera is set to be held at a later date.


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