Dagenham war veteran, 92, dreams of serenading Dame Vera Lynn
PUBLISHED: 17:53 16 March 2017 | UPDATED: 18:07 16 March 2017
A 92-year-old war veteran will meet a world famous singer again 70 years after sharing the limelight with her on stage.
In 1946 “forces sweetheart” Dame Vera Lynn was preparing to sing I’ll Make up for Everything with a 15-piece orchestra at the Lyceum theatre in the Strand.
But when the piano player informed her the song would instead be sung by ex-sailor Danny McCrudden a surprised Dame Vera joked: “Who the hell is Danny McCrudden?”
Little did she know at the time that Danny - who lives in Felhurst Crescent, Dagenham with his wife Ruby - was no stranger to the stage after spending his war days singing Frank Sinatra and Perry Como hits to packed theatres while stationed in Sydney, Australia.
Reflecting on his wartime singing career, Danny said: “It was a medicine. Even on board ship I kept singing because it took my mind away from the war.”
Managed by talent scout Carroll Levis on his return to Britain at the end of the war, the Lyceum was only one of many theatres Danny performed in with appearances at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire and Hackney Empire.
Now Danny, who witnessed kamikazi attacks on HMS Formidable during the Battle of Okinawa, will meet Dame Vera again when he attends her 100th birthday tribute concert at the London Palladium on Saturday.
Asked what he will say if he meets the singer, a cheeky Danny said: “I will say, “Excuse me, Dame Vera, we’ll meet again, but don’t forget 1946.” I think she’ll love that.”
Looking forward to the concert, where singers including Alexander Armstrong and Aled Jones are due to perform Dame Vera’s hits, Danny commented: “It will be something special.”
“I might get a chance of singing to her again,” said Danny, who regularly sings at the Royal Air Forces Association club in Romford.
Paying tribute to the star he added: “Vera Lynn was tops. She had a beautiful voice.”
Glasgow-born Danny, who worked at Ford Dagenham for 35 years while performing in his spare time, is still wowing audiences and has even entertained prime minister Theresa May.
Crooning If I’m Lucky in 10 Downing Street, Danny recalled repeating the line “If I’m lucky, I will go through the years with you,” to the PM.
In reply - according to the great-grandfather who is now a Royal British Legion ambassador - Theresa May said: “I hope so.”
Danny, who started singing at the age of three and whose velvet smooth voice melted the heart of his wife when they met at a performance in Scotland, said: “I never thought I would live to be this age and I’m still singing.
“It would be so easy to go on stage to sing for Dame Vera Lynn.”
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