TRIBUTE: Kooralbyn writer David Mason with his new book The Soldiers and Nurses of the Beaudesert District in World War I: 1914:1919, which launches in Beaudesert on November 1.AFTER 18months and 3000 hours of sifting through century-old historical records, writerDavid Mason is ready to launch his exhaustive tribute to Beaudesert’s World War IAnzacs.
Titled The Soldiers and Nurses of the Beaudesert District in World War I: 1914:1919, the book meticulously catalogs the 628 soldiers, seven nurses and 11 indigenous serviceman from Beaudesert who served in World War I.
The book containssoldier’s letters sent from the frontlines, diaries, reports of farewells and welcome home events and recommendations for awards.
The 363-page tome also includes150 photos of service personnel.
Mason will unveil his labour of loveat the Beaudesert Library onNovember 1 from 11am, where dignitaries and the community will gather to celebrate the work.
Though he admits it was a tough and at times overwhelming projectto complete,Mason says his efforts do not hold a candle to those of the soldiers documented in the book.
The initial idea for the book came to the former librarianabout five years ago whilehe was updating the Beaudesert Museum History Catalogue.
While adding names to the log, Mason realised about 70 per cent of the soldiers and nurses from the WWI erahad no locally recorded biographical information.
Distressed at the finding, Masondecided the service men and women deserved to have their efforts recorded in history.
“Telling their stories was my motivation for writing this book,” he said.
“It fills a big black hole in our history. Some people are very well known and have a lot of local history written about them, but for most of them, there was nothing.”
The Beaudesert Historical Society volunteersaid he felt a duty to tell their long-lost stories.
“I did nothing else for 18 months.During the late nights and the dead-ends, that’s what motivated me,” he said.
The project was partially funded by a $6000 state government Anzac centenary grant, as well as a significant contribution from Beaudesert rendering companyAJ Bush and Sons.
In order to complete the book, Mason drew onhistorical records at the National Archives of Australia, editions of theBeaudesert Times from during thewar and letters and documents provided by locals.
Mason said when he first picked up afinished copy of the book, relief washed over him, but he stopped short of admitting pride in his work.
“I’m satisfied their stories are being told, but whenyou consider what they did, a storyteller has nothing to be proud of,” he said.
“They are the ones who havesomething to be proud of.”
To purchase a copy visit the Beaudesert Historical Museum on Brisbane Street in Beaudesert or call 5551 3740.
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