Armed Forces personnel paid tribute to Forces Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn at her funeral today, with street lining and a flypast by Second World War aircraft.

Personnel from all three services formed a bearer party to carry Dame Vera’s coffin into the funeral service. A Royal Marines bugler performed The Last Post and the Reveille during the ceremony.

Dame Vera enjoyed a special connection with the Armed Forces, and her family requested that military personnel take part in the ceremonies at her funeral today.

Sailors from HMS Collingwood, soldiers from No.7 Company, 2nd Battalion The Coldstream Guards, and airmen and women from the Queen’s Colour Squadron of the RAF Regiment lined the route of the funeral cortège in Ditchling this afternoon.

Two aircraft from the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight performed a flypast over Ditchling before returning to RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.


Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
“Dame Vera’s inspirational work in support of our Armed Forces will never be forgotten and my thoughts are with her family and loved ones at this time. In tribute to her life, our services have come together to pay their respects at Dame Vera’s funeral and honour her memory.
“As we approach the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, we remember her performances for troops in Burma during the Second World War, bringing a welcome reminder of home to those fighting in the Far East. Her support helped to sustain the fortitude of British personnel deployed around the world and those waiting for them to return.
“We remember her life with fond memories, and all that she gave to our country in its time of need.”

Chief of Defence Staff Sir Nick Carter said:

“Dame Vera Lynn’s stirring performances brought comfort and joy to personnel serving far from home and lifted the nation during the darkest of times. The Armed Forces will forever be grateful to Dame Vera Lynn for her service. Our thoughts today are with her family for their loss, but her lasting legacy of lifting spirits will remain.

“Dame Vera has been close to the hearts of generations of soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and airwomen; she maintained a close connection with the Armed Forces throughout her life. The Royal Navy, the British Army and the Royal Air Force are proud to be part of the final farewell to the Forces’ Sweetheart and celebrate a life well-lived.”

Dame Vera’s musical performances provided a morale boost to troops serving on the frontline during the Second World War. For many she was a symbol of hope and joy and a reminder of home comforts.

She performed concerts for troops in Egypt, India and Burma as part of the conflict in the Far East, evoking memories of home in far-flung corners of the world even after Victory in Europe had been declared.

The bearer party comprised personnel from all three Services:
• Engineering Technician Dan Slamaker and Engineering Technician Alex Bouleter from HMS Collingwood represented the Royal Navy
• Guardsman Junior Smith and Guardsman Louis Rogers from No 7 Company 1st Battalion The Coldstream Guards represented the British Army
• Corporal Samuel Collins and Lance Corporal Benjamin Troughton from The Queen’s Colour Squadron, the ceremonial unit of the RAF Regiment, represented the Royal Air Force

In the private ceremony, Royal Marine bugler Corporal Kimberley Hare sounded The Last Post and The Reveille.

Corporal Kimberley Hare said:

“It is an honour and privilege to be able to attend and perform at Dame Vera Lynn’s funeral.

“She will forever be an inspiration to the Armed Forces community, and I am honoured to pay my respects to her today on behalf of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force.”

The Armed Forces consider it an honour to have held such a prominent role in today’s events and have had the chance to say goodbye to such a significant Forces icon in their own special way. Her legacy will live on forever within the military community.

Images: Crown Copyright 2020.