This Chinese word 怡和洋行 is, in English, Jardine Matheson a famous British company which thrived in the colony of Hong Kong from the mid 19th century onwards: it is still a big business today. The Chinese name for Jardine is 'EWO', and it means'happy harmony'. Jardine Matheson adopted EWO as their name in the colony. In the navy the initials EWO stand for Electronic Warfare Officer or Office!

Throughout many parts of China but especially in Hong Kong, the many companies owned by the famous Jardine and Matheson organisation were prefixed EWO followed by the specific company and indeed there were many. So, one would have referred to them as the EWO Mills [cotton mills], EWO Bakeries, EWO Steel Fabrications etc etc.

This was transferred to any aspect of Chinese life which worked well in harmony, management vis-á-vis work force for example. You may be surprised to know that the famous ship painting company, the proverbial Hong Kong Mary's Side Party [side of ship that is] was in reality [but unofficially because it had nothing whatsoever to do with Jardine Matheson] 'EWO Mary Soo's Side Party'. It was an all woman affair working in unison and doing an excellent job in keeping warships of several nations looking smart and ship-shape in various shades of grey, even a distinctive blue-grey! That applied to surface vessels only because British submarines operating in Far Eastern areas were usually painted black after WW2.

I remember well on one of our visits north to Hong Kong from our base in SNB [Singapore Naval Base], we had a visit from a small group employed in Victoria Barracks at the bottom of the peak in central Hong Kong. They came from the Island's Naval CCR [Central Communications Room], communicators, a greenie [electrical bod] and a Chinese operator. Screwed onto the sliding door of our submarine wireless office [indeed on every wireless office in every naval vessel in the fleet] was a warning sign to the effect that the compartment was out of bounds to all comers except ships officers and the wireless operators of course: not even members of the ship's company were allowed across the threshold. As we passed the wireless office with its door shut and bolted, I mentioned to the group that this was the communications nerve centre which also doubled as the crypto office and the electronic warfare office, the EWO. On completion of the tour we had a few drinks onboard and then went our various ways, with a promise of a return match for us to visit the Victoria Barracks office. That came about a couple of days later. To my great surprise, the Chinese operator had a present for me as a keepsake. He had picked up on the idea of our EWO, something he was not familiar with [the expression or the concept] and his gift was a small metal ornatmental dish with the words "EWO Mills" inscribed on it. Seemingly, these were handed out as gifts and tokens of appreciation by the Jardine personnel to visitors to their various premises, the 'Mills' meaning their point of manufacturing, and they manufactured many products, but chiefly cotton goods. As such they are not valuable although as time passes, they become more and more sought after as collector items especially to Hong Kong Chinese people. I have owned mine since 1966 and I am told that it was manufactured in the 1920's, so its now racing towards its 100th birthday.