Large Print Book Review
The first words in this book read,
“As I sit and write this I have reached the grand age of a hundred. Yet I was just twenty-seven years old when I went to Burma in 1944...”
The words of Vera Lynn and the beginning of her story about her incredible World War two dash across a war-torn world to sing for the Fourteenth Army, which had became known as the “forgotten army” in far away Burma.
The book is written in conjunction with her daughter Virgina. They write chapter by chapter in turn. Virgina has spent many hours collecting articles and letters which make for interesting reading, especially those from soldiers, all of whom were a little in love with her mother.
Vera on the other hand wrote of her memories of the heat, the insects, the awful conditions, but always her love for the troops. She sang in front of audiences which ranged from 5,000 and more, to just one of just two in a hospital ward. One of that audience died some hours later.
The men had no, or very little, contact with their families back in Britain. Month after month they heard and knew nothing. Vera Lynn filled that gap, reminded them of their loved ones, of their home, of Britain.
Vera never refused to sing, to sign an autograph, to talk to injured servicemen. She didn’t travel with a troop supporting; just Len, and his piano.
I really enjoyed this book, it is almost naive, in the nicest way. Singers fly into this country, container loads of gear, a cast of thousands, make millions and move on to the next stadium. Not Vera: she flew to Burma, faced the Japanese, sang through exhaustion time and again just to give soldiers of the “forgotten army” the sense that they were absolutely not forgotten. She took just one pretty dress, a pink sleeveless gown, which was fine in India but in Burma the mosquitos bit her arms, so she sang as the troops before her: in uniform.
She is amazing...I felt honoured just reading her book.