Our Senior Soldier WO11 Bill Griffiths has become a close and dear friend to all 1DCLI of LI Most Wanted Blog notoriety. Since 2006 we have now bulled and bantered our way across the many blog pages and Sjnt Major Bill Griffiths has played no small a part in establishing our credentials for Light Infantry mateship, friendship and support in troubled times. Following the loss of Nancy in October last year, we can offer no less support than Bill would have done in the reverse situation, by offering a permanent written Memorial to Nancy. The following works are Bill’s alone; the composition, the words and the graphics mark his respect for his dear wife of many years.
Miss Nancy Kong. The Hong Kong Defence Force’s answer to Annie get your gun
In 1949, the Hong Kong Regiment was reorganised and became part of the Hong Kong Defence Force, which also included separate Air and Naval units, and a certain young Chinese girl, Nancy Kong who had lived in constant danger and suffered under the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong during World War two, joined up to serve as a Naval Rating determined to do her best in serving as a volunteer.
It was not long before she was introduced to the service rifle, and started learning to shoot using the old Lee Enfield bolt action .303. She initially tried to hold the rifle left handed, and from the very beginning seemed to be a natural, hitting the target with great accuracy. This in itself was quite amazing as she was such a petite young girl, only five feet tall and weighing only a mere seven stone. Her Instructors were impressed and managed to persuade her that she should try shooting right handed so that she could then manipulate the bolt action and enable her to take part in rapid fire.This she did and the effect was outstanding, as she became even more consistent and was soon shooting at distances of over six hundred yards with a high degree of accuracy. It was not long before she was entered into competitions, so confident were her instuctors of her talent and capability.
This was one determined and confident young sailor girl, and it was not long before she started collecting trophies in the form of silver cups, medals and silver spoons to mark her success. She was entered in to competitions in the Hong Kong Bisley, often competing against seasoned veterans on the rifle range, and not only held her own as a markswoman, but often beat much more experienced servicemen who had spent many years shooting at competition level.
One story she loved to tell was about the time she was on the range just about to start a competition, and she was on the firing point next to a British Army Colonel, who when he saw her made some rude comment on how ridiculous it was to allow girls on the range and to be amongst experienced riflemen who would probably be upset by their presence. He was definitely upset a little later on when he discovered that Nancy had beaten his score by quite a considerable number of points and won the trophy for that particular event. Nancy just smiled and walked away with her winning trophy.
What a great feeling that must have been for her, especially as the Colonel was nowhere to be seen at the prize giving ceremony. This determined little Wren had been awarded three Riflemens certificates from the National Rifle Association for having made high scores at ranges between 200 and 800 yards. In addition to which in just a couple of years had collected eleven silver cups, six silver spoons, and six medals, one of which was for becoming the Hong Kong Ladies Champion in 1952.
This was just before she married her English husband Bill after meeting him on a blind date in 1950. Nancy was a very proud little sailor girl, and a credit to the Hong Kong Defence Force.
In 1951 The Hong Kong Naval Defence Force was presented with a fully equipped Minesweeper formally ‘HMS Lysander’, and this was renamed ‘HMS Cornflower’ by Lady Grantham at a special ceremony on board the ship. His Excellency The Governor, Sir Alexander Grantham also attended. HMS Cornflower will be used by the Hong Kong Volunteers as a training ship.
(‘HMS Cornflower’ With the ships proud new crew waving goodbye to the Governor after his visit.) The Wrens can clearly be seen on the upper deck just above the figure 9 of the ships number.
In 1955 Nancy’s husband was posted back to Hong Kong and of course took Nancy with him, and there she joined a rifle club where for the next three years she continued to display her talent as a competent markswoman, although now just as a civilian member, shooting just for pleasure.