The C.J. (Jimmy) Melrose Memorial Reserve at Brookfield commemorates the memory of a young Australian aviator who was killed in an air-crash on this site on 5th July 1936. There is a historical marker at the reserve to commemorate the air crash that killed him. The marker was erected in 1992. Near the reserve there is a memorial cairn originally erected by a scout’s group soon after the crash. In 1986, the cairn was reconstructed by Melton and District Historical Society for the 40th anniversary of the incident.
‘’The historical marker which is placed at the entrance of the reserve reads,
This historic marker has been erected to commemorate the 56th anniversary of C.J. (Jimmy) Melrose’s air crash
CR Margaret Wood
Mayor of Melton
Constructed with the assistance of West Melton Pty Ltd.
Graeme Minns Shire of Melton’’
The information board placed near the marker carries a brief description of the incident and about the men who lost their lives. It goes as follows,
‘’Melton South History
This monument honours the achievements of Charles James (Jimmy) Melrose, aged 22 years, who along with his passenger Alexander Campbell, lost their lives in an air crash at this location on 5th of July 1936.
Jimmy Melrose was born in Adelaide, South Australia on 13th of September 1913. He earned his pilot license at the age of 19 and at the time of his death had already achieved worldwide acclaim as a record-breaking solo pilot.
Most notably in 1934 Jimmy was the youngest competitor, only solo pilot and only Australian to finish the MacPherson Robertson Melbourne Centenary Air Race (Melbourne to London) . He flew a de Havilland Puss Moth (VH-UQO) named ‘My Hildergarde’, after his mother, finishing second in the handicap race and winning £1000 in prizemoney.
On the 5th of July 1936, he was taking Alexander Campbell on a charter flight from Melbourne to Darwin, when the plane in which they were flying broke apart in turbulent weather and crashed on this site.
Following his death, Jimmy was given a state funeral at St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne and simultaneously a service was held at St Peter’s Cathedral, Adelaide, where in his honour both houses of Parliament had suspended sitting for the day. 100,000 people attended Jimmy’s funeral service with mourners lining the route from St Paul’s to Springvale Crematorium. Jimmy’s ashes returned to Adelaide remaining there with his mother until her death in 1968. They are now at rest together at North Road Anglican Cemetery, Collinswood, South Australia. ‘’
Here we reproduce the newspaper report that appeared on the Leader about the death of Jimmy Melrose on 6th July 1936
Newspaper report on Jimmy Melrose’s death
Leader (Orange, NSW : 1899 – 1945)/ Mon 6 Jul 1936/ Page 2
MELROSE MEETS AWFUL DEATH. FATAL FLIGHT. PLANE EXPLODES IN AIR.
Passenger Also Killed.
The young South Australian airman, James Melrose, is dead. He was killed this morning when a plane he was flying from Essendon to Adelaide exploded in mid-air, near Melton and crashed in pieces. His passenger, A. J. Campbell, mining engineer, was also killed. Flying the plane, which he recently flew from England, “My Hildegarde,” Melrose reached Melbourne yesterday from Adelaide, with his mother as passenger.
He intended to fly to Hobart to-day, but early this morning, Campbell chartered the plane to fly to Adelaide and pick up two other mining engineers, and then proceed to Oodnadatta. The plane left Essendon at about 7.50 with the intention of reaching Adelaide about noon and proceeding at once to Central Australia. The machine was not seen again, until it was near Melton, a railway town 23 miles from Melbourne, on the Ballarat- Adelaide line.
Several persons saw the plane zoom out of a cloudbank. A few seconds later a deafening explosion sounded. The horrified spectators saw the plane blown into hundreds of pieces. Melrose and his passenger were thrown out and fell 500 feet into a rock- strewn paddock, to meet instant death.
The main portion of the machine fell into a creek about a mile from the town. Eyewitnesses rushed to the scene and found the bodies of Melrose and Campbell, both being shockingly injured. The wreckage of the plane was scattered over a wide area. It was revealed to-night that Melrose was advised this morning against making the flight owing to bad weather, but after studying the forecast he decided to take off. The aviation authorities in Melbourne are at a loss to explain the cause of the crash, and an inquiry will be conducted by the Air Accidents Investigation Committee.
Only 23 years of age, Melrose, who had made several flights from England, was regarded as one of the foremost pilots in Australia. He flew in the Centenary Air Race from London to Melbourne and gained a prize in the handicap section. He recently flew the machine which was involved in to-day’s crash, from London for in an air-taxi service between Melbourne and Adelaide.
He and his mother had an unusually great affection for each other, and the name “My Hildegarde” was that of the young airman’s mother.
Location: Maplewood Close, C. J. (Jimmy) Melrose Memorial Reserve, Brookfield, 3338