Dame Vera Lynn's centenary marked with Bluebirds over White Cliffs of Dover

Dame Vera Lynn, known across the nation as the "Forces Sweetheart", for her uplifting performances during the Second World War sees her album, entitled Vera Lynn 100, go on sale - three days before her 100th birthday on Monday.

Dame Vera has always been a staunch supporter of the British troops, so she was understandably distressed to learn that pigeons - loyal birds who served their country by delivering vital messages during both world wars - are being shipped to the Continent each year before being forced to fly across the hazardous English Channel.

Dame Vera launched her career at the Kursaal Ballroom in Southend where she performed with the Howard Baker Band in 1939, aged just 22.

"Dame Vera Lynn has written a number of iconic songs which many residents are likely to have grown up listening to".

Standing beneath it at the private event will be war veterans, WWII re-enactors, 1940s singers and supporters of Dame Vera Lynn's Children's Charity.

It is thought the record will make her the first singer to have released a new album as a centenarian.

The 350ft image of Dame Vera will also celebrate the release of her new album, Vera Lynn 100.

Dame Vera Lynn said: "I can't believe everyone is going to so much trouble to wish me a happy birthday - I feel incredibly humbled by it all".

Dame Lynn started her career at the age of 15 and she was soon put under the spotlight as a regular on BBC radio.

Television judge Robert Rinder thanked the centenarian for her efforts during the war.

In 2016, she said she was "surprised" and "honoured" to be made a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for services to entertainment and charity in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

  • Salvatore Jensen