Perla Siedle Gibson, known as ‘The Lady in White’, was an upper-class woman from Durban, who in the Second World War became famous for appearing in the city’s harbour and singing to the numerous British and South African soldiers and sailors who passed through. The article shows how Gibson’s activities illuminate several aspects of South Africa’s, and especially Natal’s, role in the war. The strategic situation in the period 1940–3 made South African ports crucial to the British campaigns in North Africa and East Asia. The article demonstrates that women’s volunteerism in Durban played a key part in sustaining military morale in this period, and thereby contributes to a gendered reading of the politics of the war. It also emphasises the specificity of Natal settler loyalism in framing the activities of Gibson and her co-workers: white Natalians had a particularly strong sense of connection to Britain, and an ambivalent relationship to the South African state. Finally, the article points out how racial tensions were building in this period, in ways which would lead to internal crisis in the country and international isolation by the 1960s. This would ultimately undermine the Natal-British identity for which Gibson stood.