Sailors join Forces’ tribute at Dame Vera’s funeral

Sailors from HMS Collingwood and a Royal Marines Bugler accompanied ‘Forces Sweetheart’ Dame Vera Lynn on her final journey today.

Applause rippled through the picture-postcard village of Ditchling as the funeral cortège passed through its narrow streets, lined in part by personnel from all three Services.

It was the entertainer’s wish that members of today’s Armed Forces take part in last act of a life which dedicated so much to those on the front line.

Sailors from HMS Collingwood, soldiers from No.7 Company, 1st Battalion The Coldstream Guards, and airmen from the Queen’s Colour Squadron of the RAF Regiment lined the route of the cortège.

And personnel from all three Services were also selected as pallbearers, with Engineering Technicians Dan Slamaker and Alex Bouleter from HMS Collingwood representing the Senior Service.

Dame Vera died last month aged 103, 75 years after her performances on the radio and around the world – including a visit to the troops fighting the Japanese in Burma – helped bolster morale on the front line and homefront, while songs such as We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover became anthems of our greatest generation.

Her funeral service in St Margaret’s Church was a private ceremony limited to a small number of guests, with Royal Marine Bugler Corporal Kimberley Hare invited to sound The Last Post and The Reveille.

And, fittingly, on the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Britain, two Spitfires from the RAF’s Memorial Flight performed a flypast over the East Sussex village in tribute.

Cpl Kimberley Hare