Amah and children

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 20:10

This was taken on a balcony of the Airmen's block at R.A.F. Litlel Sai Wan.

Date picture taken


Dear Fonny,

I am so happy to see that you have recognised your grandma and grand aunt on the photograph.

Many times I have wondered who the people, especially the children, were on my and other's old photographs, and how they have got on in life.  If you search through the 367 Association galleries you will see that several of us took photographs of the amahs and in some cases we have remembered their names.  It is just possible that you, or your grandma, if she is still alive, might recongnise some of those names or enjoy seeing the photographs that we all took.  Malcolm was at Little Sai Wan 4 years before I was there, but I am sure that the amahs were mostly the same people.  I cannot remember how many amahs were employed to look after us but, as each of them looked after three or four rooms each with between 4 and 5 airmen, there must have been between 30 and 40 young and middle aged women doing our laundry, making beds and generally keeping the rooms tidy and clean.  Which of the people on the photograph is your grandma?

Being a camp with no female service personnel, the amahs provided us with what many of us missed - daily conversation with the opposite sex.  The amah who looked after the five young men in my room and two other rooms, was called Chung.  I'm afraid that I never knew her other names. Chung was to us, in our early twenties, an 'old woman' of 40!  To me that now sounds very young!  Chung was a wonderful person who wasn't afraid to tell us off - just like our mothers would have done for staying in bed too long or just being silly like young people, especially men, can sometimes be.  Another amah was called Cheng Che Oi.  She was younger being about 30 and was amah to one of the officers, but Chung had asked some of us to help Che Oi (for that is how we addressed her) to improve her English as she had a wish to get a better paid job working for one of the English families in the town - or perhaps even on the Peak. In return for our help with her conversation, Che Oi would occasionally bring various Chinese delicacies for us to try - 100(?) year old eggs, sweets and other things that we might not have thought of buying ourselves.

If they are still alive all those wonderful ladies will now be well over 80 or 90 or perhaps 100.  Time has passed very quickly.  If you would like me to send you a higher resolution copy of the photograph please let me know.

Best wishes,  Andrew