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Moy, Russell (1911 - 1986)


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    Frank (Tung Foo) Chinn making a presentation to Taiwanese Consul at a function in the 1950s

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

The Museum of Chinese Australian History collection holds an oral history recording with Russell Moy.


Russell Moy (1911-1986) was born in Melbourne, the son of Chinese-born parents, George Leong Moy, who was a fruit and vegetable wholesaler, and his wife Bertha Poon. George and Bertha's marriage was an arranged one and there was a seventeen-year age difference between them. They met for the first time when they were married. Russell was one of five children. His brothers and sisters were - Phyliss, Grace, Lionel, and Dorothy.

Russell’s father came to Australia from the Kaiping (Hoi Ping) district in Guangzhou. When he first arrived in Melbourne in 1900, he worked in a market garden for the Leong Clan. When Russell was young, the family moved to Little Bourke Street where George Leong Moy managed the Leong clans fruit and vegetable wholesaler business, known as Hoon Cheong (later Leong Hoong Cheong). Growing up in Little Bourke Street, Russell recalled there being about fifty to one hundred members of the Leong clan - one of the four largest clans in and around Little Bourke Street. The Moy family lived above the shop and Russell remembers the building as very narrow. While working as manager, he imported bananas from Fiji as well as overseeing the buying of vegetables from Chinese market gardeners in Echuca and Nagambie. They also sold bananas, tomatoes and peanuts.

Bertha Poon, also from Guangzhou, grew up in Leong Lee's at 197-199 Little Bourke Streets where her father was an herbalist. Bertha was one of twelve children. When Bertha married George, she was about 16 or 17.

After Russell’s father died in 1926, the Moy family moved out of Little Bourke Street to Middle Park. Russell joined the local cricket, swimming, baseball, football clubs as well as getting involved in the YMCA where he was introduced to sports and non-Chinese Australians. Following his father’s example, he eventually began work in the fruit and vegetable industry.

At the outbreak of World War II, he was working as a fruit and vegetable wholesaler. As a protected industry, he didn’t have to enlist. In 1942, however, he chose to do so, and was accepted into the air force. At age 32, he was too old to fly but was permitted to work in radio communications. While in the air force, Russell was posted to Sydney, Brisbane and Horne Island in the Torres Strait. At Horne Island, he worked at a transmitting station. The base was a stopping point for pilots en route to New Guinea and was bombed a couple of times by the Japanese.

Russell was one of the founding members of the Young Chinese League and was President of the League a number of times from 1967 to 1969, and in 1975, 1976 and 1983. He was also Vice President from 1960 to 1965, as well as in 1973 and 1974. For a time he also held the position of Treasurer - 1985, 1986 and 1988. He retired from the committee in 1992. He is credited as being one of the longest serving committee members - 60 years.

Russell Moy with the late Mervyn Limon started up the Young Chinese League tennis club in the 1940s. Over the years, they helped to organise many functions and tournaments. The annual tennis tournament played at the Bacchus Marsh Lawn Tennis Club proved to be popular for several years. In recognition of his dedication to the Young Chinese League and its associated tennis club, Russell was made a life member of the League in the 1960s.

Outside the Young Chinese League, Russell was also a keen lawn bowler and an active member of the RSL (Returned Services League). The March 1996 edition of the Young Chinese League newspaper notes that Russell was a person who lived life to the fullest. He was a well-known and respected person, remembered as a ‘true gentleman’ who was always willing to help others, and genuinely wanted to know how people were going.

Sources used to compile this entry: Macgregor, Paul, 'Crossing Between Cultures', International Relations Quarterly Supplement, October 1994, 1994, pp. 12-15; Museum of Chinese Australian History collection including - Young Chinese League newsletters – March 1996. Russell Moy: Original Transcript (Reels 1-9) + Edited Papers (Pages 1-44).

Prepared by: Brendan O'Donnell, Monash University

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  • Macgregor, Paul, 'Crossing Between Cultures', International Relations Quarterly Supplement, October 1994, 1994, pp. 12-15. Details


Frank (Tung Foo) Chinn making a presentation to Taiwanese Consul at a function in the 1950s