• James Melbourne

Army / Flying Corps
  • 5th Australian Infantry Battalion

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  • 1914–1915 Star
  • British War Medal
  • Victory Medal
  • Birth

    Perth, WA, Australia

  • Enlistment - WW1

    Victoria 3660, Australia

  • Post-war address. 4 McArthur Place

    South Melbourne VIC 3205, Australia

  • Sprained hand

    Moudros, Greece
    Saturday, 15 May 1915

  • Embarked HMAT "Demosthenes" A64

    Friday, 16 July 1915

  • Pneumonia

    Friday, 17 March 1916

  • Returned to Australia due to deafness and asthma on HT "Armadale"

    Sunday, 21 May 1916

  • Discharged Third Military District

    Melbourne VIC, Australia
    Friday, 22 September 1916

  • Died in South Melbourne

    Saturday, 11 December 1937

Stories and comments
    • Private James Edward Melbourne service no 2515
    • Posted by VICGOVAboriginalWW1, Thursday, 26 May 2016

    Story from: They Served With Honour: Untold stories of Western Australian Aboriginal Servicemen at Gallipoli, Department of Aboriginal Affairs, Government of Western Australia, Perth, 2015 James 'Jimmy' Edward Melbourne was born in the York area of Western Australia in 1876. Jimmy was the son of an Aboriginal woman called Sarah, and Charles Melbourne, a labourer at the York Hospital. In the early 1880s Jimmy was placed in the Native and Half Caste Mission in Perth where he remained for several years prior to returning to York where he was employed by a well-known businessman. From the mid-1890s, Jimmy gained prominence in a number of sports including horse racing (obtaining his jockey's license in 1896), Australian Rules football, athletics, boxing and cricket. Most notably, he was the first Aboriginal person to play Australian Rules football at a State level representing West Perth in June 1900. Jimmy was a member of West Perth's 1901 premiership side before moving to South Fremantle in 1902 and on to Subiaco, playing in the 1903 and 1904 seasons. Jimmy continued to play football and box until 1908 when he competed in both these fields in the Bunbury region. In 1912 Jimmy moved to Melbourne with his wife Florence Jones, whom he married in Perth in 1903. On 21 March 1915, Jimmy enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) stating that he was a 'groom' by profession. He travelled by train to the Seymour Camp where he was appointed to the Australian Light Horse Regiment. On 13 July Jimmy joined the 7th Reinforcements of the 5th Battalion, and three days later embarked on the HMAT Demosthenes A64 from Melbourne, arriving at the port of Suez on 14 August. On arrival the troops were subject to fumigation to kill any parasites that may have acquired on board. Following a six-hour train journey to Cairo, Egypt, the Battalion moved to nearby Abbassia where they were involved in further training. On 13 September they moved to the Greek island of Lemnos aboard the RMS Ionian and then onto Gallipoli. During this period, Jimmy was admitted to the 24th Casualty Clearing Station with a sprained hand. Once he recovered, Jimmy returned to his unit and remained with them until 29 November when he was transferred to the 2nd Australian General Hospital in Cairo with a fractured hand. Whilst in hospital Jimmy informed the staff that he had previously been wounded on two other occasions but had not reported the incidents. On 30 December 1915, Jimmy returned to active duty at the Overseas Base at Ghezereh, Egypt, where he remained until early March 1916. He was then admitted to the 1st Australian Stationary Hospital in Ismailia with influenza and tuberculosis. Jimmy was subsequently transferred to the 3rd Australian General Hospital in Cairo where he was found to have developed a chronic cough. In May, suffering from severe deafness and asthma, Jimmy was discharged to return to Australia on the HMAT Armadale A26 and arrived in Melbourne on 26 July 1917. On 9 September 1917, Jimmy was discharged from the AIF and granted a war pension of £3 per fortnight, while his wife received half that amount. In December 1917, the payments were reduced to 20s and 10s per fortnight respectively. Little information on Jimmy exists for the next fifteen years, other than he lost his wife to cancer and twelve years later married Mary Edith McDonald, who claimed to have been an ex-army nurse. After his marriage, Jimmy was employed on the wharves and worked for sustenance. His neighbours described him as a quiet, well-spoken man. On 13 December 1937, Jimmy Melbourne was murdered at his home in Tope Street, South Melbourne, where he lived with his wife. Jimmy's landlord was convicted of his manslaughter and sentenced to five years in prison. The viciousness of the attack and subsequent trial made front page news across the nation. Of all the newspapers, Perth's Mirror was the most forthcoming, reflecting upon Jimmy's athleticism: [his] 'amazing swiftness as a great rover' in Australian Rules football, his success as a jockey, followed by how he had served the country after enlisting with the AIF on the outbreak of war. These sentiments were also echoed by The York Chronicle as a mark of respect to one of their former noteworthy residents. Jimmy Melbourne is buried in an unmarked grave at the Springvale Botanical Cemetery in Melbourne. He was the only Aboriginal person from Perth's Native and Half Caste Mission to have served at Gallipoli. In 2007, the Western Australian Football League paid tribute to Jimmy's legacy and his contribution to the football history of the State by creating the Jimmy Melbourne Cup. It is awarded each year to the winner of the South Fremantle and Claremont football game that is played during the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee Week. Private James Edward Melbourne was awarded with the 1914-15 Star in 1920, the British War Medal 1914-20 and the Victory Medal for his military service. Biography from book - They Served With Honour: Untold stories of Western Australian Aboriginal Servicemen at Gallipoli, Department of Aboriginal Affairs, Government of Western Australia, Perth, 2015 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION about Victorian Aboriginal service in WW1 see link to VICTORIAN ABORIGINAL SERVICE IN WW1 HOME PAGE in the side bar of this webpage or copy this link http://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/groupstories/7396 a. This page contains information about and may contain photographs of person/s who are deceased. b. The accuracy of the information provided on this page has been checked as thoroughly as possible by Aboriginal Victoria through the Victorian Aboriginal WW1 Research Project. c. There may be additional information which this research project was not able to find or access at the time of publication. d. To the best of our ability we have sought to find living relatives to assist with the research, but we do not claim to have contacted all family members who may have relevant information. e. The information presented on this webpage may be of assistance to you but the State of Victoria and its employees do not guarantee that the publication is without flaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence which may arise from you relying on any information published as part of the Victorian Aboriginal WW1 Research Project.