First recorded by The Bunny Berigan Orchestra (1941).
Hit versions Kay Kyser & His Orchestra (US #1 1941), by The Glenn Miller Orchestra (US #6 1942), Vera Lynn (1942), The Checkers (1952), The Righteous Brothers (UK #21 1966).
From the wiki: “So ‘British’ was its diction, imagery and tone, many Americans thought ‘(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover’ was written by an Englishman. Instead, it was composed in 1941 by a couple of Americans, Walter Kent (allegedly based on ‘Over the Rainbow‘) with lyrics by Nat Burton, inspired by an American poem written by Alice Duer Miller and Walter Kent titled ‘The White Cliffs’.
“First introduced on the radio by Kate Smith, the first recorded release of the song was by the Bunny Berigan Orchestra in late 1941. Kay Kyser & His Orchestra topped the Hit Parade with their recording, while Glenn Miller’s recording also charted in the Top-10. There was, for a time in early 1942, fourteen different recordings of ‘White Cliffs of Dover’ vying for public attention. But, the most-famous arrangement was recorded in England by Vera Lynn in 1942, with Mantovani’s orchestra, for Decca Records, becoming one of Lynn’s best-loved recordings and among the most popular World War II tunes, serving to uplift civilian morale at a time when Great Britain ‘stood alone’ against Nazi Germany.
“Symbolically, the White Cliffs of Dover are a guardian and protector of the English, a symbol of England’s strength against potential enemies and a reassuring sight to returning travelers. The lyrics refer to the RAF and RCAF fighter pilots (in their blue uniforms) as ‘bluebirds’ (although bluebirds are not native to Europe, and are not migratory) and expresses confidence that they would prevail. Notable phrases include ‘Thumbs Up!’, which was an RAF and RCAF term for permission to go, and ‘flying in those angry skies’ where the air war between Great Britain and Germany was taking place. The lyrics also looked towards a time when the war would be over and peace would rule over the iconic white cliffs of Dover, Britain’s symbolic border with the European mainland.
“Post-war, The Checkers’ 1953 R&B treatment of ‘White Cliffs of Dover’ was a Top-5 hit in Los Angeles but did not chart nationally. In 1966 the Righteous Brothers reached #21 in the UK with their cover version of ‘White Cliffs of Dover’.”