Spitfire flypast to remember Dame Vera Lynn as she is laid to rest

10 July 2020, 07:42 | Updated: 10 July 2020, 09:24

Vera Lynn's image was projected onto the cliffs of Dover
Vera Lynn's image was projected onto the cliffs of Dover. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Dame Vera Lynn will be honoured with a Spitfire flypast over her Sussex village before her funeral later today.

At about midday, a Spitfire and a Hurricane - two of the most famous aircraft from the war - will soar over the village of Ditchling as a show of respect for Dame Vera.

A cortege will leave her home at 11:40am, and arrive in the village of Ditchling at midday. The cortege will pause to allow residents to pay their respects, before continuing onto Brighton for the funeral.

Planes in the flypast will take off from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire and fly over the funeral procession while it is paused in Ditchling.

The singer, who entertained troops with morale-boosting visits to the front line during the Second World War, died aged 103 on June 18.

Crowds are expected to gather in the picturesque village on Friday, where she lived, to say goodbye to their "special local lady".

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

The cortege will leave her family home and pause at the crossroads in the centre of the village to allow residents to pay their respects.

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

"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.

"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."

After leaving Ditchling, the cortege will move on to the crematorium in Brighton where a tri-service route-lining party will wait outside the chapel, together with a military bearer party ready to receive the coffin.

A bugler from the Royal Marines will provide a musical tribute inside the chapel, and the Ministry of Defence will be 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.

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

Dame Vera's strong association with the famous White Cliffs of Dover was celebrated ahead of the funeral by the projection of a giant portrait of her onto the cliff face.

The image on the 350ft cliffs was visible to ships passing through the Channel, as well as passing planes - and on land it could be seen from the main road and the back gardens of local residents.

Ms Lewis-Jones said: "I feel very honoured to have my mother's image on the White Cliffs of Dover, which is so closely associated with her, and I know that she would definitely feel the same."

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