Forces' sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn 'surprised' at honour
Forces' sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn said she was "surprised" and "honoured" to be given an accolade in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.
The 99-year-old, whose songs brought hope during the darkest days of the Second World War, has been made a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for services to entertainment and charity.
Dame Vera said: "I was very surprised to hear that I was going to be appointed a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour in the Birthday Honours list.
"I felt very greatly honoured to be given a Damehood and never expected to receive anything else. So for Her Majesty to bestow a further accolade on me is very unexpected and I feel even more honoured."
In her 20s, Dame Vera played a huge role in keeping up the spirits of a British civilian population suffering under the Blitz. She travelled thousands of miles, often at great personal risk, to entertain troops.
Her hits included We'll Meet Again, I'll Be Seeing You, Wishing and If Only I Had Wings. In 1941, she was handed her own regular radio programme, Sincerely Yours, giving her a peak-time evening audience.
When the war was over she retired from the stage and microphone to bring up her daughter, Virginia, at their home in Sussex, but she remained in popular demand.
She toured throughout the world, to countries including the United States, Scandinavia, Holland, Germany, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
Dame Vera once said: "I have never been terribly ambitious. I never wanted to be a Judy Garland or anything, and I wouldn't change the way I used to sing.
"If work came along I liked, I would do it. If it interfered with home life for too long or took me away, I wouldn't."
She has received accolades throughout her life, including an OBE in 1969, a DBE in 1975, and in 1978 she was given the Freedom of the City of London.