William Edward (Billy) SING DCM, MiD

SING, William Edward

Service Number: 355
Enlisted: 26 October 1914, Bowen, Queensland
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 31st Infantry Battalion
Born: Clermont, Queensland, 2 March 1886
Home Town: Proserpine, Whitsunday, Queensland
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Horse driver, Cane-cutter, Roo shooter
Died: Natural causes (found dead in bed), Brisbane, Queensland, 19 May 1943, aged 57 years
Cemetery: Lutwyche Cemetery, Brisbane, Qld
ANZ 7 85 38
Memorials: Billy Sing Memorial (Clermont, Qld), Billy Sing Memorial (Lutwyche Cemetery)
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World War 1 Service

26 Oct 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 355, Bowen, Queensland
21 Dec 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 355, 5th Light Horse Regiment, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
21 Dec 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 355, 5th Light Horse Regiment, HMAT Persic, Sydney
16 May 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Trooper, SN 355, 5th Light Horse Regiment, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
4 Jan 1917: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 31st Infantry Battalion
31 Jul 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 355, 31st Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres
23 Nov 1918: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, SN 355, 31st Infantry Battalion

Pte William Edward (Billy) Sing

from In Memory Of

In Memory Of Private William Edward (Billy) Sing DCM, 31st Battalion, of Clermont, Qld, who enlisted on the 26th of October 1914 and returned to Australia on the 21st of July 1918. Nicknames: The Assassin, The Murderer, Billy.

While serving with the 5th Light Horse Regiment on Gallipoli, Private Sing acquired notoriety as an accurate sniper, shooting over 150 Turkish soldiers, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

He sniped from a position at Chatham's Post. His tally stated as 150 confirmed, but a higher informal estimate puts his tally at 201. The discrepancy can be accounted for by the way such hits were recorded. On the 23rd of October 1915, General Birdwood issued an order containing his compliments on Sing's performance accounting for the 201 Turks.

Warfare in Europe differed from Gallipoli, with the heavy use of artillery, opportunities for sniping were not as great. Private Sing was awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre in early 1918, probably for his role in leading a patrol eliminating some German snipers at Polygon Wood in September 1917.

He became known as Australia's most effective marksman/sniper. His incredible accuracy contributed greatly to the preservation of the lives of those with whom he served during a war always remembered for countless acts of valour and tragic carnage.

Over his period of service he contracted influenza, rheumatism, mumps, was shot on two occasions, sustained shrapnel wounds to both legs and his back and was gassed, resulting in him spending time in and out of hospitals and eventually causing his medical discharge.

Towards the end of the war he married a Scottish woman, but the relationship did not last long. Following work in sheep farming and gold mining, he died in relative poverty and obscurity. He died alone in his room in a boarding house in West End, Brisbane, on the 19th of May 1943.

NOTE: Contemporary evidence puts his tally at close to 300 kills at Gallipoli.

Lest We Forget.

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Biography

"William “Billy” Sing was born in 1886 to an English mother and Chinese father. He and his two sisters were brought up in Clermont and Proserpine, in rural Queensland. Life on the land was tough, and from a young age Billy had to help his parents with their market garden and milk deliveries. He was also a talented horse rider and skilled at shooting.

When war broke out in 1914, Billy rushed to sign up. As one of the first to enlist, Billy was not subjected to the degree of later resistance against recruiting non-white Australians into the AIF, and he was accepted into the 5th Light Horse Regiment. He was sent to Egypt in December 1914 and onto Gallipoli in May 1915.

On Gallipoli, Billy was given the nickname “the Murderer” or “the Assassin” for his skill as a sniper. Fellow soldier Ion Idriess described him as, “a little chap, very dark, with a jet black moustache and a goatee beard. A picturesque looking mankiller. He is the crack sniper of the Anzacs.” Every morning in the darkness before dawn Billy would find a place to hide and watch over the Turkish soldiers in their trenches. Waiting patiently with a “spotter”, usually Tom Sheehan, or Ion Idriess, he would wait for an enemy soldier to come into view. To avoid becoming a target of the Turkish snipers, the Australians would stay in their position until nightfall."READ MORE LINK (www.awm.gov.au)

Billy Sing was Australia's most well known military sniper

"... 355A Private William Edward (Billy) Sing DCM, 31st Battalion, of Clermont, Qld, who enlisted on 26 October 1914 and returned to Australia on 21 July 1918. While serving with the 5th Light Horse Regiment on Gallipoli, Trooper Sing acquired notoriety as an accurate sniper, shooting over 150 Turkish soldiers, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Trooper Sing sniped from a position at Chatham's Post, his tally stated as 150 confirmed, but a higher informal estimate puts his tally at 201. The discrepancy can be accounted for by the way such hits were recorded.

On 23 October 1915, General Birdwood issued an order containing his compliments on Trooper Sing's performance accounting for the 201 Turks. Warfare in Europe differed from Gallipoli, with the heavy use of artillery, opportunites for sniping were not as great. Private Sing was awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre in early 1918, probably for his role in leading a patrol eliminating some German snipers at Polygon Wood in September 1917.

Over his period of service he contracted influenza, rheumatism, mumps, was shot on two occasions, sustained shrapnel wounds to both legs and his back and was gassed, resulting in him spending time in and out of hospitals and eventually causing his medical discharge."SOURCE (www.awm.gov.au)

And from The MAGPIE; (www.townsvillemagpie.com.au)

...But there is little doubt that the man with the most ‘kills’ as a sniper was the Chinese/Australian digger William Edward ‘Billy’ Sing, a hero of Gallipoli. Billy is credited officially with 150 ‘kills’, but at Gallipoli alone his unofficial count was more than 200. Billy had a famous running cat-and-mouse game with a Turkish counterpart, which makes fascinating reading in itself. He was deployed to both the Middle East and the Western Front after Gallipoli, and no records exist of his apparently clandestine performance there, but there are persistant estimates of more than 300 kills during the whole war.

Billy Sing was born to a Chinese father and an English mother in Clermont in 1886, and was schooled and worked in outback Queensland, including for a time in the Proserpine area. He suffered racial discrimination throughout his life, which would’ve been kinda dangerous for his antagonists, because from an early age, he was a renowned shooter, dropping kangaroos with head shots from incredible distances. He was also a rifle range champion.

His war duties over, Billy Sing came home to become a rural itinerant, timber worker, cane cutter and drover, and his ignominious end in poverty in a Brisbane boarding house in 1943 has echoes of current arguments about how we treat our returning troops. He most certainly should be remembered and honoured. Those interested to know more, there is a book..." Gallipoli Sniper by John Hamilton  (www.panmacmillan.com.au)

 

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