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JENNY Side Party BEM


War Hero
JENNY Side Party BEM

Some of the old and bold would remember Jenny's side party in Hong Kong

Died Not known Reported by AE(OL) on 20-Mar-09

Generations of sailors who visited Hong Kong will mourn the death of Jenny. She was a much loved living legend who. for all the colony's constant change, remained the same incomparable institution for over half a century.
Much of her life was an enigma. However. the authors of her twenty-seven Certificates of Service generally agreed that she was born in a sampan in Causeway Bay in 1917. Her mother, Jenny One, according to her one surviving Certificate of Service, which was copied in 1946 from an older, much battered and largely illegible document., 'provided servicable sampans far the general use of the Royal Navy, obtained sand. and. was useful for changing money’. She brought up her two daughters to help her.
Behind her perpetual great gold-toothed grin Jenny complained; “I vcIIy chocker. All time work in sampan. N0 learn to lead or lite.†But what she lacked in education she made up more than a hundredfold with her immense and impressive experience in ship husbandry. her unfailing thoroughness and apparently inexhaustible energy. her unquestionable loyalty and integrity, her infectious enthusiasm and her innate cheerfulness.
Officially Jenny's Date of Volunteering was recorded as 1928. From then until 1997, when the colony became a Special Administrative Region of China and the Royal Navy moved out. she and her team of tireless girls. who at one time numbered nearly three dozen, unofficially served the Royal and Commonwealth Navies in Hong Kong by cleaning and painting their ships. attending their buoy jumpcrs, and, dressed in their best. waiting with grace and charm upon their guests at cocktail parties. Captains and Executive Officers would find fresh flowers in their cabins and newspapers delivered daily. And many a departing officer received a generous gift as a memento from Jenny. For all of this she steadfastly refused ever to take any payment. Instead she and her Side Party earned their keep selling soft drinks to the ships' companies and accepting any item of scrap which could be found on board.
Jenny's huge collection of photographs - too big. she said. to be put into books - she stored in a large envelope. They dated back to the mid 20th century and showed her in the ships she so faithfully served, with Buffers and Side Parties, and with grateful officers. many of whom became distinguished admirals. In two thick albums she proudly kept her letters of reference, all without exception filled with praise and affection for her. One was a commendation by the Duke of Edinburgh for her work in the Royal Yacht during her visit to Hong Kong in 1959. She has a Long Service and Good Conduct Medal presented to her in 1938 by the captain of HMS DEVONSHIRE, and a bar engraved 'HMS LEANDER 1975’.
Most treasured of all Jenny's distinctions was the British Empire Medal awarded her in the Hong Kong Civilian List of the Queen's Birthday Honours in 1980 and with which she, formally named Mrs. Ng Muk Kah, was invested by the Governor of Hong Kong, Sir Murray MacLehose.
In later years Hong Kong was no longer visited by the great fleets of battleships and cruisers which gave Jenny and her Side Party their livelihood and she found it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. Yet she stayed fit and always willing to undertake any work available. To the end of the Royal Navy's presence in Hong Kong there could be seen in the shadow of the towering Prince of Wales building within the naval base, a small round figure in traditional baggy black trousers and high-collared smock, with a long pigtail and eternal smile who, regardless of time. remained it seemed for ever – just Jenny.

Jenny died peacefully in Hong Kong on Wednesday 18th February 2009. She was 92 years old.
Thanks for that Jimmy

Most of us old and bold met Jenny and her girls in our travels to HK. May her particular God go with her. A legend in our life time that one in a million who's efforts in life come to be known by the thousands her passed thru her life.

Nutty, Junior Seaman, HMS Lock Killisport, 1963 to 1964 visits, to HK many.


War Hero
What a top lady! I remember one sultry Hong Kong dawn feeding several hundred fathoms of 4" berthing hawser (specially stolen from inboard back home) out of the forends via the fwd escape tower and down into one of Jennys sampans, as payment for the work her girls had done. I thought the bloody thing would sink under the weight but the sampan, gunnels awash, manned by two elderly ladies bravely paddled away out of the basin and vanished into the early fog.
I also recall her and her girls going through all our gash and taking most of it away before the bins were emptied! I also gave her other little odds and ends and as a result was given free goffas throughout our stay, very useful in that climate! Perhaps it's best she is no longer with us. Some PC arsewipe would no doubt be complaining about the Navy using coolie labour and exploiting old ladies.

RIP Jenny.


War Hero
No more windy Hammers on the flight deck :cry: :cry: RIP


Book Reviewer
On arriving in Hong Kong for the first time, back in 1957, the first real chinese face that I saw was Jenny's. What an impression it made, a real Oriental!! She looked after us for the remainder of our 18months tour, never failing to meet the boat whenever we arrived back in harbour. Will be sadly missed.. RIP Jenny.


War Hero
Many happy memories of Jenny and her girls. Not least the way that ditching gash from the galley was a no go once they were aboard. From potato peelings and cabbage stalks to any meat trimmings and leftovers, it was assiduously sorted and removed, only, I suspect, to be bought back by Jolly Jack on his way back from a run ashore, as some exotically named Chinese dish.
Rest in peace Old Lady. You were a gem.



Lantern Swinger
Very sad to hear that Jenny has died. That amazing lady and her side party did a fantastic job of painting ship. Mine was HMS Bulwark back in 1966/67. An article in the Navy News a few years ago stated that her photographs had been destroyed in a house fire I think it was, and she wrote an appeal via NN for people who knew her to write or send in old photos for her. I wrote and sent some and had the following reply - which I still treasure -

"I have received your letter and it was very considerate of you to write. I am glad to have heard from you. My health is in good condition. I hope your health is too. I'm very honoured to have been able to serve your crew. If it was not for my job I would not have had the opportunity to meet you and your crew members. I am very glad to have had that chance. I hope you will come and visit Hong Kong in the near future. It is very different from then. I wish you the best in everything you do. You are a very dear friend. May God bless you. Thank you again for the letter. Sincerely - Jenny - "Side Party"

This letter unfortunately was not dated, but I reckon Navy News would have a copy of the issue with Jenny's plea for letters and photos in it. Just a thought. I'm delighted she was awarded the BEM - it should have been the OBE, she and her team were worth it...R.I.P. Jenny old love....


War Hero
God rest her. What a team! How the hell she and her girls managed to get those dust bins full of gash down into those sampans without injury amazed me, sometimes Honkers harbour could be a bit choppy.
RIP Old lady


Lantern Swinger
How very very sad to hear of the death of this wonderful Lady. I hope that the Royal Navy is suitably represented at her funeral. I met her several times during the 70s and 80s and always found her and her "girls" such a refreshingly willing, cheerful, hardworking and capable workforce compared with anywhere else in the world. We will never see her like again. God rest her soul.


War Hero
Great work done be Jenny and all her girls.
No doubt Noah will have a smile on his face as Jenny sorts out his Ark for him.
A grand lady. Look out for possible obituaries, based on the tribute at the top of the thread written by naval historian Charles Addis, in the DT, Times, Navy News (but not the April issue) and Pompey News. If anyone has any particularly good photo scans of Jenny, with or without side party, please PM me so I can pass them on to the appropriate people. I'll ask that you are credited.


Jenny with some members of her side party
on board HMS Newfoundland 1955

(Courtesy of former CPO Gabby Haines)[/align]
Like the rest of you I have good memories for Jenny and her helpers. First time was in 1980 whilst onboard the "Black Pig". Must say though was never sure the goffa's were actually what they said they were.





War Hero
Book Reviewer
Remember her from Newfy - ashore one afternoon a b great limousine with tinted windows nearly drove over my foor - Jenny was driving it.

Returning in Cossack in 1957, while Father was trying to berth on War Afridi for fuel, FOUR side parties scrambled onto the iron deck and raced up to the bridge to bid for custom, all screaming at once. These included one that had looked after Cossack of old, one from Comus whose people had been transferred to Cossack in refit, one from Alert whose Jimmy had kindly recommended them, and Jenny's. No.1 went down and locked himself in the sick bay and an SD who spoke some Cantonese managed to sort them out and picked the one led by a man as he was a bit less shrill than the others.

Here is Jenny with her team on board HMS London in 1965:


War Hero
I remember jenny very well .Being buffers mate i had a lot of dealings with her through of course .She was meticulous in what she did and a lovely person to know her girls too :D :)


War Hero
A fantastic woman along with her girls and the like of which we shall never probably see again. She had a smile to light up an entire room.

RIP Jenny


Lantern Swinger
Like Nutty was on the Loch Killisport during that time, also Loch Fada and the Salisbury she looked after us all. I agree about the goffas, not sure it was what it said on the bottle, but it was cold and after a night on the San Mig it was very welcome. RIP Jenny one of a kind.
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