You ask the questions: (Such as: Dame Vera Lynn, didn't you ever get sick of singing `The White Cliffs of Dover'?)

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DAME VERA Lynn was born in 1917. She grew up in East Ham, and made her first public singing appearance at the age of seven. She sang for troops during the Second World War; her hits include "We'll Meet Again", "White Cliffs of Dover" and "Yours". With "Auf Wiedersehen", she became the first British artiste to top the American hit parade. She married her manager, Harry Lewis, in 1941 and they had one daughter. She was awarded an OBE in 1969 and became a dame in 1975. She is a founder member of SOS (Stars Organisation for Spastics), and raises money for Scope. Now aged 82, she lives in Ditchling, East Sussex.

What do you think of your nickname, the Forces' Sweetheart?

Julie Sellers, Chiswick

I thought it was great. It was a competition run by The Daily Express newspaper in 1939. The expeditionary forces, who had been sent to France before the start of the war, voted for me. I was very honoured.

Do you think war veterans are fairly treated, by the Government?

CV Hall, by e-mail

No. They struggle to get a decent pension. The Gurkhas, for example, get a pittance. Even nowadays, their widows are fighting to get a decent pension. I think some Second World War veterans get about pounds 10 a month.

What do you discuss with the Queen Mum when you have tea?

Martin Smith-Hamilton, Durham

It depends on the situation. When my daughter was young and so was Charles, we would talk about families. She would ask me about working with a young child, or about my music, because Charles loved music. She asked after my mother when she was ill. But if we were at an official function, we would talk about that. We were together two weeks ago, at the unveiling of the monument to the war at St Paul's. We talked about the people of London and how wonderful they were.

Did you feel an urge to go and

entertain the forces in Kosovo?

Fred Sellers, Brighton

Had I been younger, I would have gone with pleasure if they'd wanted me to. You've got to do these things when you're young, fit and healthy.

Did you used to draw lines down the back of your leg with a pen instead of wearing stockings?

Michaela Janus, London EC1

No, I was lucky. I always had stockings, because as I was working in the West End I was allowed extra coupons for my costumes. I was short of good fabric for stage dresses. We couldn't get the silk that we had before the war.

What do you think of singers today? Any favourites?

Gavin Brown, London N4

If I were at home on my own, I would play Sinatra or Sibelius. A real mixture, really. I find it difficult to relate to modern music, I'm afraid. I like to hear the story and the words.

Didn't you ever get sick of singing "The White Cliffs of Dover?"

Harry Carpenter, Oxford

No. After the war I went on tour to Australia, Canada, Norway, etc, and there were many good songs - "Yours" or "We'll Meet Again" - I was asked to sing. I could never leave out "The White Cliffs of Dover". It meant so much to everyone. The white cliffs of Dover were the last thing the boys saw as they were leaving. The song meant home to them.

Did you get saucy fan mail and gifts from the troops?

Polly Hayes, London WC1

No, I just got good letters asking for photos from the boys, or requests from their families to sing a song on my programme. Sometimes I would get gifts, such as small rosaries, but generally people didn't have the means to send gifts.

Any plans to revive your career?

JK Barnsley, Penrith

No. I have sung for long enough. I sang four years ago with great success at Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace for the VE celebrations. That was a good time to finish. I wanted to leave with good memories and not wait till I couldn't sing any more.

Is it true that the BBC once told you your voice was unsuitable for broadcasting?

Thomas Fellows, Buckingham

I did an audition for Henry Hall, a well-known dance man at the BBC, when I was about 15. I have lost the letter I was sent, but it said: "your voice is unsuitable for broadcasting".

Do you sing "We'll Meet Again"

in the bath?

Frank Browning, Chelmsford

No, I never sing in the bath. In fact, I've never even practised singing. I would only ever sing indoors if I had to learn a song with my pianist.

How would young people

today cope with conscription?

Alan P Beadle, Rotherham

If a war broke out, I'm sure there'd be no problem. You'd naturally get a few chaps who would cry off, but on the whole we Brits are a patriotic and sentimental lot. I'm sure the young people today would do the same as those in the Forties.

Was it love at first sight when

you met your husband?

Catherine David, London WC1

Not for me. When we met in 1939, he said: "I'm going to marry you." I laughed at him. We were working with the band Ambrose then. I was vocalist and he played the clarinet and saxophone. We married in 1941. He was my manager, my secretary, everything. He supported me all of my career. Sadly, he died last year.

Is it true you had a bust-up with Robbie Williams? You've been quoted as saying he should have given up a week of his time and flown to the Balkans.

Jennifer Williams, by e-mail

I don't know Robbie Williams. I know his name, but I've never met him. A journalist asked me what I thought about artists entertaining the troops in the Balkans.

I said that big-time artists who can afford it and earn a lot should allow a cetain amount of time to entertain. It is the fact that you can be bothered to go there, rather than the entertainment itself, that means so much. I wasn't slanting anything at Robbie Williams personally, just making a comment about big artists in general.

What words of advice can you offer the younger generation?

Lily Hillier, Petworth, Sussex

It's so different from when I was young. All I can say is, take advantage of the opportunities. Make up your mind what you want to do, and go and get it. Make sure it is not at the expense of anyone else, though. It'll always come back on you. If you're going up the ladder, be nice to the people that you pass on the way. You may meet them on your way down.

Next Week

Charlton Heston, Followed by Tamara Beckwith

SEND YOUR questions to: You Ask the Questions, Features, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL (fax: 0171-293 2182, e-mail: yourquestions@ independent.co.uk), by noon Friday. The question we like best will win the sender a bottle of champagne

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