The Soldier's Details

First Name:
Nick Name:
Regimental #:
‘A’ Company Headquarters
Place of Birth:
Northam, Western Australia
Father's Name:
Not Known
Mothers's Name:
Emily Jane Ah Sing
Church of England
Pre-war Occupation:
Rabbit Trapper
‘Blackforce’, attached to 2/2nd Pioneer Battalion, (two weeks guard duties and carting from wharves to Tjililitan Aerodrome).
Bicycle Camp Batavia
‘A’ Force Burma, Java Party No. 4, Williams Force.
Camps Thailand:
131km, 133km, Tamarkan, Kanchanaburi
Camps Burma:
Beke Taung 40km, Reptu 30km Camps
Camps Java:
Bicycle Camp Batavia
Rakuyo Maru Party, Kumi No. 38 (rescued by USS Sealion II )
Return Details 1945:
Saipan‐Guadalcanal‐Brisbane‐Perth 1.11.1944

General Description

Alf Sing enlisted AIF 10 Sept 1941 and Taken on Strength to Woodside SA where he joined rest of 2/4th MGB.  Alf was with ‘A’ Coy Headquarters under CO Maj. Saggers.
However when their transport ship from Darwin via Sydney to Singapore anchored off Guage Roads, Fremantle 15 Jan 1942, the 2/4th were ordered not to leave ship –  there was no leave! This didn’t stop 100s and 100s of 2/4th men leaving through all means possible to board transport pontoons to Fremantle – they hadn’t seen their families for up to five months.    Most managed to get back to ‘Aquitania’ by midday of next, 16 January but about 100 men were not.  Alf was one of these.  Please read further.
Alf sailed several weeks later – not to Singapore as planned, but to Java where all Allied soldiers were taken POW of Japan early March 1942.
Read the story Members of 2/4th nominated for Medal but not awarded.
Read about Java and POW Camps. and a group of men who delayed their surrender to Japan on Java Island.
POW Alf sailed from Java Oct 1942 to work on the Burma-Thai Railway with ‘A’ Force Burma, Java Party No. 4, Williams Force.  They would work on the northern i.e. Burma end of the Railway. Towards the end of 1943 and the Rail was completed, the Japanese began to move all the POWs working in Burma (and Thailand) south to Thailand to one of several large POW camps or hospitals.  After several months during which time the POWs were fed far better food rations and ‘Speedo’ on the rail.   There were times they were not working – just to improve their health and appearance.   The Japanese then selected the POWs they considered ‘fit’ to send to work in Japan.  Alf left with the first work party intended for Japan – to be later known as ‘Rakuyo’ Maru Party sailing from Singapore Sept 1944 for Saigon.
It was to be a long journey before finally the men boarded their transport ship in Singapore.  They were first sent by rail via Bangkok to French Indo China to Saigon to sail to Japan.  French Indo China was once of Japan’s main port of entry for supplies into Burma.   After many attempts to leave Saigon, the Japanese finally realised this exit port to Japan was now successfully blockaded by the American Submarines.  The POWs were departed to entrain to Singapore via Bangkok.  The arrived at Singapore to stay at River Valley Road Transit Camp to await a transport ship – during which time they mostly worked around the docks.
And the story Surviving the Sinking of the Rakuyo Maru written by Roy Cornford NX44955 of the 2/19th Battalion, courtesy of Peter Winstanley.



Read about other 2/4th men who were rescued.

Below:  death of Alf’s grandmother, Julia.





Below:  Alf returned to Northam Army Camp following his rescue from ‘Rakuyo’ Maru sinking Sep 1944 in South China Sea.


Alf had a twin brother James Sing who also enlisted AIF, WX30654.


Alf was the son of Jessie Jane Ah Sing and Alfred James Dennis.  Jessie, born Middle Swan 1887 had a family of 11 children .  She died Northam 29 March 1974.
Alf’s great grandfather Willliam Ah Sing arrived in West Australia in 1841 and worked as a servant to Samuel Viveash at Swan.  (This information from  ‘Asian Immigrants to Western Australia, 1829- 1901’ by Anne Atkinson, University of Western Australia Press, Crawley, 1988. pp.80 and 228.)
It is believed William Ah Sing (Snr) was born 1811 Xingyi, Guizhou, China.  He married 1855 Middle Swan then aged 45 years to Irish born Julia MacDonald aged 20 years.  They had two children – William Ah Sing (Jnr) born 1856 and Annie Ah Sing born 26 June1857 at Middle Swan.
William Ah Sing (Jnr) married Dec 1879  Middle Swan to Julia Ann known as ‘Julianna’ Hitchcock.  They had a family of 10 children including Emily ‘Jane’ Ah Sing – mother of Alf.
You may like to read further about this fantastic Chinese history in WA.
And 1991 thesis by Anne Atkinson regarding this most interesting and little-known history 


After the war in 1947, Alf married Edna J Kempton at Beverley.  Edna and Alf had a family of four children.  They both died at Beverley.
After the war Alf resumed playing cricket and football.



Alf died at Beverley 11 May 1992 aged 72 years.  He was buried at Beverley Cemetery,
SING:  (information included July 1992 Borehole Bulletin).
The following members of 2/4th travelled to Beverley for the funeral of Alf Sing: Ron Badock, Wally Lynn, Jim Gilmour, Arthur Morrison, Mr and Mrs Phil Beilby and Claude Dow.   The Sing family appreciated their attendance and for bringing the Flag. A luncheon was held afterwards at the Showgrounds attended by a large crowd of relatives and friends.


Camp Locations:

  • Kanchanaburi, 50k - Thailand
  • Tamarkan, Tha Makham 56k - Thailand
  • Tonchan South, 131k - Thailand
  • Beketaung, 40Kilo, 374k - Burma
  • Reptu, Retphaw, 30Kilo 385k - Burma
  • Bicycle Camp, Batavia, Jakarta - Java ***