Ivan Sing was born in Melbourne in 1925, growing up in Melbourne’s Chinatown with his parents, Joe and Fanny Sing and older brothers, Victor and Phillip. The family lived at various addresses in the city – Crossley Street, and Punch Lane, before later moving to Boundary Road in North Melbourne.

At one stage they lived next door to a dope house. For fun the children knocked on the door and when the door opened, ran away. They also played cricket down the lane way. Opposite the Anglican Chinese Mission of the Epiphany church 123 Little Bourke Street was the Chinese school held in the 110 Little Bourke Street building which Ivan attended. Later Ivan attended Rathdowne State School in Carlton followed by Collingwood Technical College.

Sing Family collection

Ivan’s father worked as a fruit and vegetable and wholesale banana merchant in Little Bourke Street, before moving to Peel Street West Melbourne. When he sold this business, he had a market stall in A shed block, at Victoria Market.

Prior to WW2, Victor, the eldest brother, worked for Malvern Star as a process worker. During the war, after also enlisting, Victor worked in Sydney and New Guinea as an instrument repairer with the Air Force. Phillip became an apprentice fitter and turner.

Ivan joined the Air Cadets when he was 16, then enlisted in the regular Air Force at 18. Prior to enlisting Ivan worked as a process worker with Oliver J Nielsen, a producer of electrical switchboards.

Photo – file NAA: A9301, 438535

After joining the Air Force in 1943 and 6-weeks’ training in Portsea, Ivan was sent to Canada in January 1944 as a Leading Aircraftman. Ivan spent a year overall training at wireless, bomb and gunnery schools in Brandon, Winnipeg, Leithbridge and Vancouver before disembarking back in Brisbane in January 1945. In April 1945 he was promoted to Flight Sergeant. That year he undertook more training in wireless and gunnery at the school in Ballarat before being posted for a year to the 38 Transport Depot at Archerfield before his discharge and return to Brisbane.

Between November 1945 and April 1946 Ivan flew on 8 transport flights to New Guinea. In April 1946 he was also promoted to Warrant Officer. Ivan’s last transport flight was to Morotai, Borneo in June 1946.  Ivan was discharged from the air force on 28 August 1946 in Brisbane.

After the war, Ivan moved to Brisbane, meeting his future wife, Corinne, at the Chinese club playing tennis. After marrying Corinne in 1947 he worked for Corinne’s father, Guy Sue Tin, in the furniture business. He was joined in Queensland by Victor. Philip, already married with a daughter, also moved his family to Brisbane. After Joe Sing died in 1946 their mother came and lived with Ivan in Brisbane. 

Ivan is still living in Brisbane and turned 98 years old in September 2023.

Ivan on his 98th birthday - Sing Family Collection

Honours and Awards received:

·         Defence Medal

·         War Medal 1939-1945

·         Australian Service Medal 1939-1945

·         Returned from Active Service Badge


·         NAA A9301 438535 Ivan Sing Service File.

·         2019 interview with Ivan Sing conducted by Eve Young.

·         2023 information passed on by Ivan’s daughters, Diana and Jillian, in response to questions from Irene Poon.