Literature: WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Edited by Sacha Llewellyn & Paul Liss, July 2016, cat 83, page 126.
This poster was produced by Kennington as part of the war posters in the series Seeing it Through. The model was a twenty year old London bus conductor, Mrs M.J. Morgan. One of the first generation of female bus conductors employed by London Transport in November 1940, she had only just started her job as a “clippie” when the bus she was assigned to was caught in the blitz. She became an instant heroine when she shielded with her own body two young children, and then helped passengers who’d been injured when the bus was riddled with shrapnel from a bomb exploding nearby.
Kennington remembered her well describing her:
“…like a Rubens Venus’ and she had a complexion that was ‘edible as a peach…”
Beneath the portrait of the bus conductor was a short verse by the novelist and humorist, Alan Patrick Herbert:
“…How proud upon your quaterdeck you stand
Conductor- Captain of the mighty bus!
Like some Columbus you survey the Strand
A calm newcomer in a sea of fuss
You may be tired – how cheerfully you clip
Clip in the dark with one eye on the street –
Two decks – one pair of legs – a rolling ship
Much on your mind and fat men on your feet !
The sirens blow, and death is in the air
Still at her post the trusty Captain stands
And counts her change, and scampers up the stair
As brave a sailor as the King commands.