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sub-Saharan Africa Topics specific to sub-Saharan Africa. (Includes all countries South of 17 degrees latitude)
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Old 3 Jan 2009
Tim Cullis's Avatar
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Durban's 'Lady in White'

At a pre-Christmas dinner party I was chatting to an elderly ex-neighbour who was a surgeon commander during WWII and was in a LST on D-Day that was converted into a makeshift hospital craft.

Another of his memories from earlier in the war was arriving in Durban in a naval convoy and being 'sung in' by a lady in white who apparently used to welcome many of the ships with songs such as 'Land of Hope and Glory' and 'There'll always be an England'. The amplifying effect of her megaphone and the way sound is carried over the water meant she could be heard a considerable time before the ships docked.



I decided to look into this and found a remarkable story. The lady, Perla Siedle Gibson, was a soprano and became known to hundreds of thousands of troops and naval personnel as over the years she sang in literally thousands of ships--even singing on the day that she learned her son had been killed in the Italian campaign.

Some links
Statues and Busts. The Lady in White: Perla Siedle Gibson. Durban
Lady in White - TIME
Facts About Durban - Durban Has Changed
Perla Siedle Gibson - South African Art History - South African Historical Artists
Facts About Durban - Diary

There's a statue to her in Durban harbour and if I ever get as far as South Africa it will be somewhere that I will make sure I visit. Vaufi (Hans) gave a presentation at the Andalucia meeting on SA and it certainly wetted my appetite for the country.

Tim
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Old 4 Jan 2009
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Thank you that is a wonderful story.
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Old 4 Jan 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Cullis View Post
Some links
Statues and Busts. The Lady in White: Perla Siedle Gibson. Durban
Lady in White - TIME
Facts About Durban - Durban Has Changed
Perla Siedle Gibson - South African Art History - South African Historical Artists
Facts About Durban - Diary

There's a statue to her in Durban harbour and if I ever get as far as South Africa it will be somewhere that I will make sure I visit. Vaufi (Hans) gave a presentation at the Andalucia meeting on SA and it certainly wetted my appetite for the country.

Tim
What a remarkable story!

Funny enough - I grew up in Natal. I even did my apprenticeship in Durban, but have never heard of this before. Mind you, in Apartheid times the South African colonial (white) history was much more important for the government than WW II business. Still, many South Africans have served within the allied troops all over the world in WW II.

I'm glad to have wetted your appetite. So - just do it

Hans
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