Dame Vera Lynn poses for photographs in central London, on October 22, 2009.
Shaun Curry—AFP via Getty Images—2009 AFP
June 18, 2020 11:06 AM EDT

Vera Lynn, the singer who raised the morale of Britain’s armed forces during World War II with patriotic songs like ‘We’ll Meet Again’, has died at the age of 103.

In a statement, her family said they were “deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers.”

In May, Lynn became the oldest person to enter the U.K.’s top 40 music charts, with her greatest hits album coming in at number 30 ahead of VE Day, the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.

Lynn became wildly popular through radio broadcasts at the height of the London Blitz, the German bombing campaign against the British capital, in 1940. She then traveled around the world, including to the British colonies of Burma (now Myanmar) and India, to perform to British troops, earning her the moniker “the forces’ sweetheart.”

She was appointed a Dame, an honorific title, for her contributions to cerebral palsy charity work in the Queen’s birthday honors in 1975.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Dame Vera Lynn’s charm and magical voice entranced and uplifted our country in some of our darkest hours. Her voice will live on to lift the hearts of generations to come.”

Some of Lynn’s lyrics praised the British Empire. Others evoked pastoral villages and the white cliffs of Dover, symbols of Britain’s natural beauty that would endure after the dark days of war were over.

In 2009, the far-right British National Party used Lynn’s song, ‘The White Cliffs of Dover,’ in a fundraising album release. Lynn took legal action against the group in response.

In an address to the nation shortly after the U.K. government imposed a coronavirus lockdown on March 23, Queen Elizabeth II referenced Lynn’s famous song ‘We’ll Meet Again’ in a widely-praised speech seen as a boost to British morale.

“We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return,” the Queen said. “We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.”

Write to Billy Perrigo at billy.perrigo@time.com.

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