Lady in White
Durban's Lady in White is perhaps one of South Africa most well known figures
of the Second World War. The Lady in White, Mrs Perla Siedle Gibson became a
known figure to Allied troops at Durban harbour, which was South Africa's busiest port during the war. Mrs Gibson was the daughter of a wealthy South African ship owner
and studied as a young woman in Germany to be a soprano. She went on to give recitals in London and Manhattan.
Once described by Perla as her "wharfside work", it began one day as she was seeing off a young Irish seaman who had been entertained by her family the day before. As
his ship was departing, he shouted at her across the water, "Please sing something Irish." She cupped her hands and started reciting the song, When Irish Eyes are
Smiling. Throughout the years which followed she went on to sing to more than five thousand ships carrying an estimated quarter of a million Allied servicemen in total.
Perla Siedle would often stand at the harbour dressed in her trademark white dress and hat singing to the passing ships with the aid of a megaphone which came from a
torpedoed liner as a gift from grateful English troops. Americans would often request that she sing such songs as God Bless America and The Star-Spangled Banner.
English troops often asked for There'll Always Be An England, while Australians preferred her performances of Waltzing Matilda, and South Africans always requested their
own national folk songs like Sarie Marais. Czechs, Poles and Greeks chose opera arias.
Soldier's talk eventually led to The Lady in White's fame spreading across the world, and ship captains would salute her as they were passing her. Perla Siedle was even
known to U.S. soldiers as Kate Smith or Ma, to Britons as the Lady in White or the Soldiers' Sweetheart, and to the Poles as the South African Nightingale. Perla Siedle
was married to Air Sergeant Jack Gibson, last stationed at Foggia, Italy, and also had two sons and one daughter in the South African Army. She had sung goodbye to all of
them, watching their ships move out of sight over the bar to the tune of her favourite closing number, Auld Lang Syne. Even after the loss of one of her own sons, she refused
to stop singing to the troops.
Mrs Gibson passed away in 1971, a short time before her 83rd birthday, and a stone cairn with a bronze plaque was erected on Durban's North Pier in June 0f 1972. The
memorial was erected on the site where she would have stood, singing to "her boys". It was donated by the men of the Royal Navy and reads:
To the memory of Perla Gibson "The Lady In White" Who sang to countless thousands of British commonwealth and Allied Servicemen as they passed through Durban over
the years 1940 to 1971 This tablet was presented by the Officers and Men of the Royal Navy.
In 1995 a statue of Perla was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II and today it stands in a prominent place next to the Emtateni Centre, which is part of the Ocean Terminal
Building on the Durban Harbour's T-Jetty. The Perla Siedle Gibson Mobile Library was also founded to serve British seamen and a five room unit at the Highway Hospice was
created with funds raised in her memory. The boarding establishment at Glenwood High School was named Gibson House after Perla's son Roy and its colour is white in
Accommodation Near Lady in White
From: R 1 500,00Per unit, per night.0.2km North of Lady in WhiteThis 18th floor, luxury self-catering apartment boasts unrivalled views across Africa's busiest port and the Indian Ocean coastline.
From: R 1 600,00Per unit, per night.0.4km West of Lady in WhiteThe apartment is situated near the harbour entrance amongst the deep water canals with access to a safe bathing beach only a stone throw away. The world renowned uShaka Marine World
From: R 1 300,00Per unit, per night.Sleeps: 60.4km West of Lady in WhiteQuays 405 is a luxury duplex apartment on the 4th floor. It comprises 2 bedrooms (main en-suite), 2,5 bathrooms, with a sleeper couch in the living room. The main bedroom has a queen size bed
From: R 800,00Per unit, per night.0.5km South West of Lady in White15 Harbour View is a very spacious fully air-conditioned upmarket 1 bedroomed apartment (can sleep up to 4 with sleeper couch in the lounge) with large sliding glass doors leading from both the Bedroom and dining/lounge areas...
From: R 2 000,00Per unit, per night.0.7km West of Lady in WhiteThis chic 3 bedroom garden penthouse has stunning views of the Durban harbour entrance, with the beaches just a stones throw away. The rooftop garden has both a paved and grassed area surrounding a splash pool
From: R 400,00Per person, per night sharing.Sleeps: 60.7km West of Lady in White12 Dock Point is an upmarket self catering apartment sleeping up to 6 people. This double story unit offers 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms plus guest loo. Main bedroom is en suite (separate bath and shower) with queen bed.
From: R 1 950,00Per unit, per night.0.8km West of Lady in WhiteThis is a neat 2 Bedroom ( 6 Sleeper) Apartment over looking Ushaka. Double Balcony allows a continuous breeze throughout the day.
1.1km West of Lady in WhiteThis luxury self-catering apartment is located on the 15th floor of the landmark Skyscraper designed in a post-modern style, The Spinnaker. This spectacular building overlooks the world class tourism attraction "uShaka Marine World".
From: R 1 100,00Per unit, per night.Sleeps: 51.1km West of Lady in WhiteThis 2 bedroom, luxury self-catering apartment is on the 20th floor, boasts unrivalled views across Africa's busiest port and the Indian Ocean coastline. It has tasteful decoration and is fully equipped with all modern conveniences
From: R 780,00Per unit, per night.Sleeps: 41.1km West of Lady in WhiteA modern apartment with a stunning location, situated on the 21st floor of The Spinnaker at the Point Waterfront in Durban. It offers stunning sea and harbor views , close proximity to the beach, restaurants and shops, and directly overlooks Durban's p
Nearby Points Of Interest
- Rising Stars Careers Expo (0.63km)
- Howard College Building, University of KwaZulu Natal (2.58km)
- East Coast Radio Big Walk (0.96km)
- The BAT centre - Durban (2.58km)
- uShaka Marine World (0.96km)
- The Poetry Africa festival (2.61km)
- uShaka Marine World Body Art Competition (1.15km)
- Da Gama Clock (2.62km)
- Blue Flag Beaches in KwaZulu Natal (2.29km)
- The Drum Cafe (2.62km)