Battle of Britain fly-past marks Vera Lynn funeral

Fans and members of armed forces line streets of village to pay respects

 

Dame Vera Lynn was honoured with a fly-past in her beloved East Sussex village ahead of her funeral on Friday. Two second World War fighter planes soared over Ditchling to remember the late singer.

The aircraft made three passes over the quiet village before leaving to applause from the crowd.

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

As a cortege bearing Lynn’s coffin – which was draped in a Union flag – made its way out of the village where she lived for 60 years, there were shouts of “hip hip hooray” from the crowd in her honour.

It was followed by a spontaneous rendition of We’ll Meet Again, one of the songs Lynn was well-known for.

The cortege arrived in the centre of Ditchling as a bell tolled. Applause from the crowd greeted the convoy, which was led by soldiers.

The cortege then made its way out of the village as it continued its route to the crematorium in Brighton, bid farewell by shouts of “hip hip hooray” from the crowd in her honour.

It was followed by a spontaneous rendition of We’ll Meet Again, one of the songs Lynn was well-known for. The cortege was greeted in Brighton by service personnel in uniform outside the chapel, including a military bearer party who were ready to receive the coffin.

Portrait

A bugler from the Royal Marines provided e a musical tribute inside the chapel, and the Ministry of Defence was to be represented by a senior officer. The funeral service was not open to the public, with attendance limited to a small family group as well as the officer and bugler.

Ahead of the day, a giant portrait of the “Forces’ Sweetheart” was beamed on to the white cliffs of Dover to commemorate her life.

Virginia Lewis-Jones, Lynn’s daughter, said: “We want to thank everyone for their tremendous support over the past few weeks.

“My mother always appreciated receiving messages from all over the world, and Ditchling was always particularly special to her, that is why we know she would be touched that so many people want to pay their respects.”

Second World War re-enactor Steve George (59) has come to Ditchling to pay tribute.

He told the PA news agency how he met Lynn at a re-enactment in a marquee surrounded by veterans.

Mr George 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... It’s the end of an era. But she will never be forgotten.”– PA