Collect Southern Africa
1942 - 44 Bantam War Issue

By Eddie Bridges

The Designs
Background to the War Effort Stamp Series

At intervals from August 1942 onwards, all values of the War Effort stamps from ½d to 1/- were brought out in a much smaller format to save paper. The designs were copied, with the modifications and adaptations which this reduced design required from the corresponding values of the large War issues, issued from 1941 to 1943. All these modifications were done by J. Prentice from the Government Printing Works.

The ½d design was based on a drawing of marching infantry, provided by an unknown artist.

The 1d design was based on a nurse (Barbara Palmer) drawn by the War artist Neville Lewis, while the frame was drawn by Corp. Wagner of the Defence Force Printing Unit.

The 1½d featured a portrait of Bob Kershaw also drawn by Neville Lewis with the frame by Wagner.
The seaman featured on the 2d was Clive Peter based on a drawing by Neville Lewis with the frame again drawn by Wagner.

The photograph of Elizabeth Liebenberg of the Woman’s Auxiliary Corps was featured on the 3d and the photo was provided by the Postmaster General. The frame was again drawn by Wagner.

The drawing of the defence installation on the 4d was done by Wagner in its entirety. Wagner was also responsible for the 6d design depicting a welder. The design for the 1/- tanks and the 1/3 signaller were designed by unknown artists.

The predominant idea behind the creation of the stamp series was to acknowledge the activities of the various branches of the Union Defence Force (UDF). It was suggested that Capt. Neville Lewis, South Africa’s first appointed war artist, should be approached to design the series.

Neville Lewis (1895-1972) was born in Cape Town and studied fine art in the United Kingdom at the Newlyn Art School and the Slade School of Fine Art. During the First World War (1914-1918), he served in the British Army. Lewis established himself as a portrait painter of international recognition in the years between the two world wars. On 4 December 1940, he was appointed as the first of seven official war artists in the UDF. In the three years that he spent as a war artist, he travelled in and between South Africa and the battlefronts in East and North Africa and painted many important personalities, including Field Marshal Jan Christiaan Smuts, Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, Earl Alexander of Tunis, Air Chief Marshal Lord Tedder and Major General Dan Pienaar (GOC of the 1st South African Division)

At the time the request was made, Lewis was too involved with the war art programme to devote all his attention to this new project. Instead, he submitted five already completed portraits for approval for the series. These portraits were of a nurse of the South African Military Nursing Services; a pilot of the South African Air Force; a sailor of the South African Naval Forces; a trooper of the South African Tank Corps and a black soldier of the South African Native Military Corps. Lewis had photographs of the portraits produced and mounted on board with a rough border sketched around each one. They were thus ready for reduction to the required size of a stamp.

The submissions were favoured by both the Post Master General and the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs at the time. According to Lewis, however, Smuts, who was Prime Minister of South Africa and Commander-in-Chief of the UDF at the time, vetoed the use of the portrait of the black soldier.
This was very disappointing to Lewis, who considered the portrait in question to be the best of the five. Eventually, only the portraits of the pilot, sailor and nurse were used. It is not known why that of the tank trooper was omitted from the list.

The Sailor

The portrait of Clive Edward Peter was used to represent the sailor. Before the outbreak of the war, Clive Peter had trained in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve in East London.
In September 1940, he joined the South African Seaward Defence Force, but was seconded to the Royal Navy, where he remained until the end of the war. He served as a Leading Signalman for practically the entire war, before being commissioned as an Acting Sub-Lieutenant in April 1945.
One of the ships on which he served was the frigate HMS Nigella which docked in East London Harbour to be refitted during the war.

The Nurse

Barbara Palmer trained at Addington Hospital in Durban before the war.
In 1940 she joined the South African Military Nursing Services and served for a period in South Africa at No 110 Military Hospital. It was while she was stationed there that Lewis produced the portrait. In 1941 she was transferred to the Middle East and served in turn at Nos. 104,105 and 106 Military hospitals until 1944, when she returned home to marry.

The Pilot

The third subject in the series was the pilot, Lieutenant Bob Kershaw, who in March 1941 became the first South African to be made a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order. He achieved this honour in East Africa, after he had landed under fire to rescue his flight commander, Captain Jack Frost, whose plane had been shot down. He had then flown with Captain Frost on his lap in his single-seat Hurricane for three-quarters of an hour before landing back at their base. Kershaw was recommended for the Victoria Cross for this deed. Later in 1945, he was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his courage and devotion to duty.

All three portraits used in the stamp series, as well as the two which were omitted, remain part of the official Second World War Art Collection housed at the South African National Museum of Military History. They are exhibited from time to time with other works from the collection in various exhibitions held both at the Museum and at other venues around the country. Just as the stamp series was produced during the war to commemorate the men and women who served our country, these portraits and the other paintings in the collection remain a lasting testament to the same cause.

Reference for information on Neville Lewis
and the designs were taken from:

Military History Journal - Vol 11 No 1 with acknowledgement.

The Five Designs Submitted by Neville Lewis
Soldier South African
Native Military Corps

Official WW2 Art Collection
Cat. No 1815
South African Tank Corps
Official WW2 Art Collection
Cat. No 1214
Official WW2 Art Collection
Cat. No 1924

Lt R Kershaw, DSO, DFC
Official WW2 Art Collection Cat. No1744

Official WW2 Art Collection Cat. No 1833
The Official Post Office Notice advising of the release of the BantamWar Effort Stamps

The Issued Stamps
The Bantam War Issue By Eddie Bridges Pages 1 to 4 Above - Page 5 to 14 in a PDF
Varieties in the Bloom Collection - Spink October 2013

Lot 2166
½d With Roulette omitted
SG 97c

Lot 2168
1½d With Roulette omitted
SG 99b

Lot 2167
1d With Roulette omitted
SG 98b

Lot 2169
2d With Roulette omitted
SG 100b
Lot 2170 2d Albino Printing with sheet No 5598 in margin
Lot 2170 2d Strip of nine with Paper Join

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