Beaudesert memorial is one of the more unusual in Queensland, say historians

HISTORIANS consider the Beaudesert War Memorial to be one of the most elaborate and unusually designed monuments in Queensland still surviving in intact surrounds.

TRIBUTE: The Beaudesert War Memorial is located off Brisbane Street. Photo: Jordan Crick

TRIBUTE: The Beaudesert War Memorial is located off Brisbane Street. Photo: Jordan Crick

They say it is of an uncommonly large scale at more than 10 metres (33 feet) and forms a dominant landmark within the townscape.

Built between 1919 and 1921, it is representative of the most popular form of memorial in Queensland although the digger statue is unusual as it is portrayed in an unusually relaxed stance.

Like the nearby pig and calf saleyards, it has a strong association with the Beaudesert community.

The Queensland Heritage Council listing for the Beaudesert War Memorial says it was designed by Standard Masonry Works of Melbourne and built by masons W.E. Parson under the supervision of Brisbane architect, A.H. Conrad.

It records the names of the 524 local men who enlisted during WWI, including the 91 who died as well as the names of those who died in WWII.

It cost £1340 and was the fourth most expensive memorial in Queensland.

Historians say the number of enlistments is above both the state and national averages and the cost is comparatively high for a rural district.

The memorial's site was originally part of William Duckett White and George Robinson's Beaudesert Run at the intersection formed where the roads from Nindooinbah, Telemon and Kerry Stations met the Brisbane Road.

In May 1918 a public meeting was held and the Beaudesert and District Soldiers' Memorial Fund Committee was formed to raise money for a war memorial.

Australia, and Queensland in particular, had few civic monuments before WWI.

The memorials became our first national monuments, and recorded the devastating impact of the war on a young nation.

MONUMENT: The Beaudesert War Memorial was built between 1919 and 1921. Photo: Jordan Crick

MONUMENT: The Beaudesert War Memorial was built between 1919 and 1921. Photo: Jordan Crick

Australia lost 60,000 from a population of about 4 million, representing one in five of those who served. No previous or subsequent war has made such an impact.

The toll was so high that in some small country towns it made it hard for some women to find a husband given that travel was not nearly so common then.

War memorials became a highly visible expression of national grief. They became substitute graves for the mothers, wives and families of those whose bodies lay in battlefield cemeteries in Europe and the Middle East.

The QHC says that in Queensland, the soldier statue was the popular choice of memorial, whereas the obelisk predominated in the southern states, possibly a reflection of Queensland's larger working-class and a lesser involvement of architects.

The digger statue was a phenomenon peculiar to Queensland, perhaps due to the fact that other states had architects and artists driving designs and they did not regard the digger highly.

The foundation stone was laid by Beaudesert mayoress Mrs H.L. McDonald on December 10, 1919, and the memorial unveiled by the Governor, Sir Matthew Nathan on September 28, 1921. A flagpole, trench mortar and field gun were installed but disappeared during WWII.

The front face of the pedestal dado has marble plates bearing the names of locals who served in WWI. Additional plates bear the names of those who died in WWII, making a total of 557, showing the impact of war on the district.

Small bronze plaques attached to the second step commemorate the Malayan, Korean, Borneo and Vietnam conflicts.

QHC historians say the life-sized digger statue stands at ease, with his collar unbuttoned and a pipe in his right hand.

The left hand holds a rifle slung over the left shoulder. He is described as "just released from duty".

The words "The Great War 1914 to 1919" appear in bronze.

Even though Germany had surrendered on November 11, 1918, the 1919 date might refer to when the treaty was actually signed at Versailles, France,

Australians had taken part in smaller actions in 1914 and in April, 1915, landed at Gallipoli in Turkey with troops from New Zealand, Britain and France.

This disastrous campaign ended with an evacuation in December 1915 and the next year Australian forces moved to Europe, fighting campaigns on the Western Front.

The Middle East campaign also began in 1916 with Australian troops taking part in the defence of the Suez Canal and the allied re-conquest of the Sinai Desert.

Read more local news here