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Chinese laundry

ollie123

Lantern Swinger
My Dad says that there are 2 Chinese laundrymen in every ship. Is this true?

Are they still there?

Can anyone tell me about them?
 

sgtpepperband

War Hero
Book Reviewer
Yes they do sleep in the ironing boards (more like benches, although they are allocated bunk spaces).

Universally known as "Number 1" and "Number 2". Or "Scouse"... :lol:
 

clanky

War Hero
Up to the mid 90's, most ships had a pair of chinese laundreymen, who operated the laundry and charged the ship's company for the privelege. This led to a situation where most people would dhoby (wash) their underwear in the bathrooms etc, and stokes would dhobi his ovies down the boiler/engine room.
The laundry man worked under a franchise type agreement through a Hong Kong based businessman, sometimes refered to as "King Dhobi". This term was also used to describe the member of the mess with the largest monthy laundry bill, to whom the duty would fall to collect the monies owed by the rest of the mess.
There where several problems with this arrangement, one being that Jack was paying to have his uniform laundered without being recompensed. This was due to the demise of KUA in 1992.
The handover of HK provided an chance for a chance in contract. The new contract was awarded to a company caled WLS, who operate under different terms. Put as simply as possible, all clothing worn on duty, including bedding etc, is laundered at crown expense.
Many of the chinese laundrymen had problems acquiring a passport after the Handover of HK, so had to quit, to be replaced by Nepalese guys recently put onto the job market by the Tory "reforms" of the Ghurka Bns. (Labour did not invent the concept of downsizing the military.) :thumright:
If I've missed any details, I'm sure someone else will jump in.
 

brendan498

War Hero
they used to be till the mid ninetys they where called number 1 and number two and most uselly slept in the the Laundry and on the Ironing Boards, i remember on the Hermes there was a cobbler and a tailor as well,and some of the RFAs where totally crewed by them,they kept themselves to themselves,until you never paid your Dhobi bill then it was you no flucking dhobi to which most stokers would reply u no flucking steam then
 

sgtpepperband

War Hero
Book Reviewer
It's amazing how little "Engrish" they spoke... until it came to those who were unable to pay their bills! :twisted:
 
The Dhobi wallers on Fearless had obviously never met Bootnecks when 4ASRM rocked up, the first time we all sent our stone shirts down for a dhobi they came back with our last 3 numbers writen in black indelible ink just underneath the rear of the shirts collar.....how fcuking clever did that look?

The ships tailor wasn't much better, I had medal ribbons and good conduct stripes (jack seemed to be into the badge thing) put on my lovats.....ribbon near chin, stripe near shoulder...............stripe didn't last long anyway, I think the only time I put me lovats on with a good conduct stripe was to have it taken off.... :dwarf:
 

hangarat

Midshipman
On the Invincible we had at least a dozen laundrymen headed by K.P LOW.
I belive he was No 1 laundry man in the fleet. He even had his own cabin on 5 deck next to the Naffi.When the Invince was recomissioned in 89, he was presented to the queen,he had more medals on him than 'uncle Albert'
We also had a 'tap,tap' and a'sow,sow' which i used, and still have trousers and shoes made by them.
They had their own cook who used the main galley,then took their food up to there own mess,3N ,which was directly under ours,so we would always get a waft of their scran,(their escape hatch came into our mess.)

My dhobi number was 007.Can anybody still remember theirs?
 

brendan498

War Hero
i was a doc hanserat i got it free although the No 1 on the exeter told me no flee dhobi from now on he had a a heart condition so told him no flee heart pills and f..k off to the chinese doctor in gosport so it was quickly reinstated
 
sgtpepperband said:
It's amazing how little "Engrish" they spoke... until it came to those who were unable to pay their bills! :twisted:

Got to second you on that one. When I was on the Campbeltown back in the 90's I was the IST divisions (Officer sprogs at sea) laundry rep. One of the lads shirts came back with crushed buttons. As the laundry rep I was sent up to the Dhobi shack to sort it out. All I could get was "See Chief, See Chief". When the mess laundry bill came around I paid it minus about a pound and forty pence. Ten minutes after paying it Number 2 was down the mess "Midshipman XXXX You owe me one pound and forty pence" in perfect English!
 
hangarat said:
On the Invincible we had at least a dozen laundrymen headed by K.P LOW.
I belive he was No 1 laundry man in the fleet. He even had his own cabin on 5 deck next to the Naffi.When the Invince was recomissioned in 89, he was presented to the queen,he had more medals on him than 'uncle Albert'
We also had a 'tap,tap' and a'sow,sow' which i used, and still have trousers and shoes made by them.
They had their own cook who used the main galley,then took their food up to there own mess,3N ,which was directly under ours,so we would always get a waft of their scran,(their escape hatch came into our mess.)

My dhobi number was 007.Can anybody still remember theirs?

Mine was '176', and we had about a dozen on the Albion also.
SewSew and TapTap were probably generic names for them in the 60s.
I do recall that whenever whites went in for the dhobeying, they generally were returned with a few buttons crushed or missing - that's if you were lucky to get your own back !!
 
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