New book preserves Beaudesert's war stories

Unveiling Of The Beaudesert War Memorial By Sir Matthew Nathan 1921

Image: Governor Nathan unveils the Beaudesert War Memorial in 1921.

Driving down Mount Lindesay Highway on their first vice-regal visit to Beaudesert, His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC and Mrs Kaye de Jersey gazed at the handsome War Memorial at the centre of town.

The memorial with its obelisk and statue of a Digger at ease was unveiled by Queensland’s 13th Governor Sir Matthew Nathan, some 95 years earlier.

A huge crowd gathered on that day, but Governor Nathan paused to acknowledge a man who was absent - Beaudesert Mayor Selwyn-Smith missed the event owing to the death of his wife. Two sons and one daughter had served in the war, and it was reported at the time that “the great anxiety had too much effect on Mrs Smith, who had broken up under it.[1]


Image: Hubert Selwyn-Smith, brother to Nita Selwyn-Smith, who served in the Great War (courtest of the State Library of Queensland)

Mayor Selwyn Smith’s daughter was the WWI nurse Nita Selwyn Smith. Her story, and that of Beaudesert’s Mayor from 2004-2008, Joy Drescher, whose grandfather and great-uncle served with the 31st Infantry Battalion in France are among those told in the book 'War Stories and Our Town – An Anthology from the Scenic Rim', launched by Governor de Jersey in Beaudesert on Tuesday 23 February 2016.

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Image: The Governor launched 'War Stories and Our Town' in Beaudesert on 23 February 2016. 

Two mayoral families, separated by a century but united by war; two Governors united in respect for the service and sacrifice of the people of the Scenic Rim.

'War Stories and Our Town – an Anthology from the Scenic Rim' explores the way that war has affected the region and its people, from the battle front to the home front.

Recalling Sir Matthew’s urging that the sacrifice of those who served should never be forgotten, at the book launch the Governor paid tribute to the people of the Scenic Rim, saying: “Through two world wars, through conflicts from Malaya to Vietnam to Afghanistan, your memory has been long and faithful”.