Dame Vera Lynn has performed her most iconic hit We’ll Meet Again many times since she first sang it for the troops during World War Two and it became embedded as an anthem of hope in British life.
But later, although her audience will be smaller and the setting will be less remarkable, the sentiment will be the same as she once again sings the tune in lockdown from her home in East Sussex to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
With a celebratory “glass of bubbles” waiting for her at the end of the song, Dame Vera told Sky News she will be thinking of “our brave boys and their victory in Europe”.
The song of the force’s sweetheart was recently brought to the fore when the Queen quoted the lyrics in her special televised address to the nation last month, in which she acknowledged the challenges Britons were facing during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dame Vera said in an interview by email that she “didn’t know that Her Majesty was going to use those words but I think they were perfectly chosen to give the entire nation hope, especially with the emphasis that we ‘will’ meet again”.
Dame Vera, who is 103, is currently self-isolating with daughter Virginia and her son-in-law – and said that while she realises the coronavirus crisis is a “very worrying time for so many, whether it be professionally or personally or both”, that we as a nation need to remember that our country has overcome crises before, and we get through them together.
“I think we have seen a great sense of community and friendship return to our cities, towns and villages,” she said.
“It was very encouraging to see people volunteer in huge numbers to help the NHS, and how lovely to see all the stories on the news of people going that extra mile for their neighbours and even for strangers.”
And it was that sense of community that saw people across Britain take to the streets on 8 May 1945 when Britain and its allies formally accepted Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender after almost six years of war.
The singer, who performed for the troops in countries including Egypt, India and Myanmar, said she felt “an enormous sense of relief” when Winston Churchill announced on the radio that the war in Europe had come to an end.
During the conflict, as well as travelling across the world to sing, she had also been hosting a radio show which sent messages to British troops serving overseas.
“After years of struggle and losing so many people to the war, it was wonderful to breathe again and to know that we would get to see our loved ones who had gone off to fight once again,” she added.
“There was a great sense of gratitude, and I hope people today who may be struggling in these difficult times can look to VE Day as a shining example that hope never dies and good times prevail.”
Dame Vera, whose most famous songs include The White Cliffs Of Dover and There’ll Always Be An England, said she always knew the lyrics to We’ll Meet Again were “special and spoke to a universal feeling”.
And that for her, the song serves as a great reminder that bad times pass, and we will always be reunited.
“It speaks to that sense of separation and loss we have all felt – whether it was during the war or losing a loved one or now, during these difficult times,” she said.
Dame Vera, who found fame after her song became an anthem of resilience for loved ones separated by battle in the 1940s, finished her email with a message of inspiration for those battling tough times in 2020.
“Don’t give up hope – times may be tough but they will get better,” she wrote.
“Try and find the joy that remains even during these challenging times, and do what you can to help each other
“As always, keep smiling through.”