Who's Who - Sir Fabian Ware

Sir Fabian Ware Sir Fabian Arthur Goulstone Ware (1869-1949) was responsible for originating the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission during World War One.

From 1901-05 Ware served first as Assistant Director and then as Director of Education in the Transvaal.  His next post came as something of an abrupt change: he was the Morning Post's editor from 1905-11.

Unable to enlist in the British army in August 1914 on account of his age he nevertheless travelled to France in September at the head of a mobile Red Cross unit.

Ware was immediately struck by the obvious lack of a system of recording the graves of men killed in action.  Following a conversation with Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart - a Red Cross Medical Assessor - the idea of Ware establishing an official body to perform this task was first raised.

The British government was quick to recognise the importance of Ware's idea - not only in dealing with queries from relatives of the deceased at home, but also in terms of improving the morale of troops in the field.

1915 saw therefore the creation of the Graves Registration Commission, which was connected to the army.  During the course of his service in France with the body Ware was twice mentioned in despatches and ultimately promoted to Major-General.

Ware was keen from the outset to ensure a multinational aspect to the commission's work.  He worked tirelessly to gain the co-operation of not only Allied powers but also those of the Central Powers (notably Turkey).

In May 1917 an international Imperial War Conference established the Imperial (renamed Commonwealth in 1960) War Graves Commission; Ware served as its Vice Chairman with the Prince of Wales as its President.  Ware continued in this role until his retirement in 1948, a year before his death.

Determined to ensure the ongoing recognition of the war dead beyond the conclusion of hostilities Ware was active in approaching artists, architects and poets (among others) in order to devise appropriate means of designing war memorials and cemeteries.  These included the architects Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Reginald Blomfield and author Rudyard Kipling (who produced the standard inscription on the graves of the unknown).

The advent of the Second World War brought Ware's return to the War Office as Director of Graves Registration and Enquiries; he continued meanwhile to serve as Vice Chairman of the IWGC.

In 1940 Ware sought and received the backing of Sir Winston Churchill to extend the body's work to register the deaths of civilians, a much wider feature of the Second World War than in the First.

Fabian Ware died in 1948; by the time of his death the Imperial War Graves Commission had established a presence in some 150 countries.  The ongoing recognition to this day of the Commonwealth war dead owes much to Ware's unceasing efforts.

A "box barrage" was an artillery bombardment centred upon a small area.

- Did you know?

Who's Who