Flypast honours Dame Vera Lynn and crowds line the streets as she is laid to rest

10 July 2020, 12:45

By Megan White

Hundreds of people gathered in East Sussex to mark the funeral of Dame Vera Lynn, with a Spitfire and Hurricane flypast over her cortege.

Crowds flocked to Ditchling to honour the Forces’ Sweetheart, who passed away aged 103 on June 18.

Applause from the crowd greeted the convoy, which was led by soldiers, before it paused in the village and a bell tolled.

At about midday, two of the most famous aircraft from the war soared over the village where she lived as a show of respect.

They made three passes over the crowd before leaving to applause.

As the funeral cortege made its way out of the village where Dame Vera 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 Dame Vera was well-known for.

The cortege bearing Dame Vera's coffin - which is draped in a Union flag - then made its way to the crematorium in Brighton.

Dame Vera Lynn's funeral cortege passes through the village of Ditchling
Dame Vera Lynn's funeral cortege passes through the village of Ditchling. Picture: LBC News

A bugler from the Royal Marines provided a musical tribute inside the chapel, and the Ministry of Defence was represented by a senior officer who, along with the bugler and the small family group, will be the only people to attend the funeral service.

Virginia Lewis-Jones, Dame Vera's daughter, said: "We want to thank everyone for their tremendous support over the past few weeks.

The funeral cortege of Forces Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn is escorted through Ditchling
The funeral cortege of Forces Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn is escorted through Ditchling. Picture: PA

"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 in the village tomorrow."

She asked that people follow Government guidance and respect Ditchling's residents if they are visiting from somewhere else.

She added: "It means so much to us to see my mother's legacy living on.

File photo: Dame Vera Lynn
File photo: Dame Vera Lynn. Picture: PA

"We are sure her music will endure forever but most importantly, we hope that people will continue to support those charities that she cared about so much."

Captain Sir Tom Moore paid tribute to Dame Vera ahead of her private funeral.

Local residents begin to gather in Ditchling, East Sussex, ahead of the funeral for Forces Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn
Local residents begin to gather in Ditchling, East Sussex, ahead of the funeral for Forces Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn. Picture: PA

Remembering her visit to troops in Burma, the Second World War veteran and NHS fundraiser said: "There she was, this lovely English girl... she was a great person to give us a lot more confidence and we were very, very pleased to see her."

He recently received a letter from Dame Vera in recognition of the millions he has raised for the NHS and said: "I was absolutely thrilled to get a letter from Dame Vera congratulating me on the amount of money that we'd raised for my birthday.

"She was always so kind, she was lovely, I've always had a soft place in my heart for Dame Vera. It was very sad when she died."

A full memorial service will be held at a later date.

Ahead of the day, a giant portrait of the Forces Sweetheart was beamed onto the White Cliffs of Dover to commemorate her life.

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