Within just a few months of the end of the Second World War, Lynn surprised and shocked the public by announcing her retirement. As early as Christmas of 1946 she'd begun a limited return to recording, however, and by the end of 1947 she was working again, touring the variety circuit and gaining another BBC radio program. Decca seized a golden opportunity in 1948 by releasing Vera Lynn material in America during a musicians strike that had crippled the stateside music industry, and Lynn gained a Top Ten hit that year with "You Can't Be True, Dear." And in 1952, she became the first British artist to hit number one on the American charts when "Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart" spent nine weeks at the top spot. That same year, Lynn managed an astonishing hat trick back home with the advent of the first singles chart for England -- unveiled in New Musical Express in November of that year -- when her records occupied three of the top 12 positions. Her first (and only) British number one came two years later, with "My Son My Son," and she gradually moved from radio/variety work to television spots during the '50s in order to round out her schedule, recording increasingly contemporary material during the 1960s -- when she left Decca for EMI -- and '70s. She received an OBE from the British crown in 1969, and in 1975 was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire. Though she performed sparingly during the 1980s, she did appear at commemorations for the 40th anniversary of D-Day and the 50th anniversary of the beginning of World War II, and continued to do charity work. In 2005, she also spoke on behalf of veterans of World War II on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of VE Day.
And as it turned out, even in the twenty-first century, 70 years after she'd cut her first records, Lynn's career as a top-selling recording artist was not yet over. In September of 2009, the 92-year-old Lynn became the oldest singer ever to top the British album charts, when a new Decca collection of her World War II recordings, We'll Meet Again: The Very Best of Vera Lynn, hit the number one spot, a doubly extraordinary achievement in light of the reissue of the entire Beatles catalog that same month. It was an occasion noted by news services around the world, and spoke volumes about the love that the British hold for the singer and her music. ~ John Bush & Bruce Eder, Rovi