Dame Vera Lynn: Shock BBC snub that could have killed singer’s wartime career exposed

Dame Vera Lynn would go on to become an iconic symbol of British resilience and courage during World War 2. Her unforgettable voice echoed through the radios of worried family members at home and gave strength to the soldiers bravely battling on the frontlines. Friday will mark the 75th Anniversary of ‘Victory in Europe (VE) Day’ – the day the war ended. For many during those dark times, the performances of Dame Vera invoked hope and dreams of a brighter future. She quelled the heartache of soldiers missing wives, mothers and children they had left at home to fight for the lives we have been afforded today. In recognition of this landmark anniversary, the now-103-year-old crooner has recorded some of her wartime classics with Catherine Jenkins, which will be broadcast to the nation. She was dubbed the ‘Force’s sweetheart’ in recognition for her services, in a soldiers’ magazine poll, but her influence on this time in history was nearly cut savagely short by the BBC. Unearthed accounts reveal that the corporation banned iconic songs including ‘We’ll Meet Again’ and ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’. They condemned them as damaging to those on the frontline and feared they could cost Britain the war. 

Despite it being more than eight decades ago when Britons first heard Dame Vera Lynn’s iconic voice, she still remains a widely respected figure to this day.

Her wartime hits have passed through the ears of generations and today serve as a reminder of those long gone days of World War 2 era Britain. 

Shortly before the dawn of the new millennium, the singer was recognised as the ‘Personality of the Century’ in a nationwide poll after gaining more than a fifth of all votes cast by the public.

The legacy of Dame Vera has been immortalised in a time capsule of her belongings, which have been buried in Surrey, ready for future generations to take inspiration from her in the year 3000.

But unearthed accounts reveal that this iconic hero of World War 2, nearly was lost to history and how the BBC attempted to kill off her career.

Despite her synonymous hits ‘We’ll Meet Again’ and ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’ giving hope to Britons at home and overseas, there was unrest growing among a small population in the UK.

From the beginning of the Thirties, a small but extremely vocal group of campaigners had been conspiring to put an end to the broadcast of poignant music and “radio crooners”.

Their ultimate aim was to get all “effeminate” music off the air, reinforced by their beliefs that it was emasculating and “softening” troops on the frontline.

This tension had been bubbling below the surface for a long time, with one doctor writing that “crooning harms children” in a 1935 edition of the Telegraph.

There he claimed that any parent who let their children listen to this type of music was corrupting and damaging them.

The unnamed doctor wrote: “[They] might just as well hang their walls with indelicate pictures, [or] line their bookshelves with pornographic literature.”

Years later, as Britain was making a brave stance against Nazi Germany, the sentiment was echoed again in the newspaper’s 1942 letter’s section.

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There one reader claimed soldiers should be listening to “something more virile” rather than “spineless crooners” and “sentimental organists”.

They wrote: “If our armed forces really like this sort of thing, it should be the duty of the BBC to hide the fact from the world.” 

Another reader, who was a retired soldier, agreed and stated that it was “rubbish inflicted by the BBC on its listeners”.

He controversially penned: “Sickly and maudlin programmes are largely responsible for the half-hearted attitude of so many people towards the war.”

Dame Vera was specifically coming under fire in these written attacks, because she hosted a Sunday radio show called ‘Sincerely Yours’. 

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There she read out love letters to the soldiers from those back at home, informed them of the safe births of their children and sang her wartime classics hits. 

But not long later, after mounding pressure from some members of the public the BBC caved and her show was canned in the Spring of 1942, after 12 short episodes. 

One critic from the magazine Variety wrote that it had “dripped with sentiment… dripped so much that they were dropped”. 

Months later the BBC placed a universal ban on all “crooner” music, including the songs of Dame Vera.

Despite this, her popularity continued to soar, which peaked even higher after the release of the musical film ‘We’ll Meet Again’ in 1943.

The story appeared to mirror the experiences of Dame Vera, as it showed a beautiful and youthful singer who was tasked with entertaining the British Army in Europe.

The following year, Dame Vera was brought back onto air after a landslide of support and recognition of popularity with the public.

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