DORSET man Terry Whitworth and his sister Jenny Day have shared some of their priceless family photographs with us.
And they are particularly apt with the recent celebrations for Dame Vera Lynn’s 100th birthday.
Mr Whitworth, of Bridport, said: “I thought that some of your readers, particularly any veterans of the war, might be interested in some of the photographs we have of the singer during her tour of Burma during that time.
“Our father, Leslie George Whitworth, as a 25-year-old reconnaissance pilot flying Spitfires and Hurricanes, was based in Burma at the time and while off duty, he was given the task of driving Vera to various jungle sites to perform for the troops.
“Also, he wrote articles for various forces organisations over there and back in Britain.
“I’ve sent you the manuscript written by him at the time, after one of her concerts, and signed by Vera Lynn and her musical director, Len Edwards, who travelled with her on the tour, with a small piano.
“In conversations with dad when we were younger, he recalled the singer’s brave and selfless attitude at all times, performing very near the front line and never complaining about the uncomfortable conditions.
“I’ve also sent you a letter of acknowledgement received from Dame Vera, after I sent copies of various photographs from the time.”
This is the transcript of the young Leslie Whitworth’s press release:
FRONT LINE SWEETHEART by F/) L.G. Whitworth
In an interview with Vera Lynn
And it is no misnomer when the sweetheart in question goes up close enough to the firing lines to hear the bangs.
That is precisely Vera Lynn’s idea of a tour of entertainment.
“After all,” she reasons, “I’m supposed to be entertaining the forces. A lot of them can’t come to me, so I have just got to go to them.”
Vera at present touring the length and breadth of the forward areas of Bengal, has just moved back slightly from a spot, very, very close to the action zone - so close, in fact that Len Edwards, manager and celebrated accompanist, was wishing that he had brought along a good, loud grand piano to drown the bangs, instead of the tiny, gentle, pianissimo job he is carrying around in his waistcoat pocket.
But Vera - bless her golden tonsils - so tired in the midst of so strenuous a tour, had to be awakened so that she could listen.
She is going forward again in a couple of days but, of course, her exact location must be confidential, if not a military secret; from a morale standpoint she is the best little thing that ever happened out here. If you doubt it listen to the applause.
Vera still has a lot of performances before she considers her tour complete, and she will have to crowd them into a very short space of time for she is returning to England in a few weeks to keep a date with a picture at Columbia Studios.
“And thanks a lot for everything,”
she says, “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it; wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”
But when she does leave I know she will take with her the heartfelt appreciation and respect of thousands of lads of India’s Fourteenth Army.
All best wishes, Vera Lynn, and thanks a million.
*THANKS to Terry and Jenny for these wonderful photos and memories.
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