Private Cyril Dwight of 1st Battalion, the Queen's Royal Regiment, recollects laundry arrangements while serving in the East after World War II.
Cyril Dwight
Private Cyril Dwight

You travelled out there in your KD [Khaki dress] did you?
Yes well they issued your tropical kit here right, and then you went out there and when you got just the other side of Suez I think it was you started in wearing the old jungle green and you wore it from then on really. I don’t know they must have taken all the old KD off of you. The last chap I don’t know whether to put it on record. He was Second World War. The Greens out in Burma. As soon as the war finished they had a new colonel and he made them wear BD [battle dress] but of course they all sweated a lot in it, of course it got affected. They were all getting ill from it and everything else. Just because he did not like the jungle green. That is a bit strange. When we used to send it to the dobbie wallah, it used to come back like a board. Cor you used to fight to get into it.
You had them there, dobbie wallahs?
Yes every company had a dobbie wallahs. Char wallah, dobbie wallah. Now they are all part of, what do they call themselves, service men or something, used to have the service emblem. You used to have char wallahs, dobbie wallahs, you could have a servant if you wanted it. Hairdresser, what did they cost you?
What did they cost you? What for a servant?
Oh it was not that much.
But the dobbie [laundry] wallah, the char [tea] wallah?
Well you could have an ordinary dobbie which was paid for by the army or you could have a flying dobbie. The flying dobbie was, you could take it into the dobbie wallah and tell him you wanted it either tomorrow or later on that day and he would charge you so much an item. It was not that much, a couple of coppers you know but you would have it done there and then. Flying dobbie ….
Express service?
Yes it was wonderful. They used to beat the hell out of it. They used to have a huge great tank, about as big as this room, full of all sort of weird and wonderful water and they used to get this carbolically soap, rub it all over and beat the hell out it against the side of the tank. It always seemed to come clean. You know, I don’t know how they used to do it. In fact when I go on holiday I do my dobbie [laundry] the same way.
I would not like to stay next door to you with all that noise going on.
No you get in the shower don’t you, you soap it all up and you stand in the corner and you stamp on it and it works.