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Biographies

Major General Sir Fabian Ware I Sir Alfred Mond I Sir Reginald Blomfield

Major General Sir Fabian Ware

Fabian Arthur Goulstone Ware was born at Clifton, Bristol on 17th June 1869, he was educated privately and at the Universities of London and Paris, where he obtained a degree of Bachelier-es-Sciences in 1894. Four of the ten years he spent as an assistant master at secondary schools were passed at Bradford, Yorkshire, and he was an occasional examiner for the Civil Service Commission and Inspector of Schools to the Board of Education. In 1899 he began contributing to the newspaper the Morning Post. The year after, he was appointed representative of the Education Committee of the Royal British Commission at the Paris World Exhibition. When the Exhibition was over, he obtained a position as Assistant Director of Education in the Transvaal in South Africa. Two years later he became Acting Director of Education for the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony, and after a brief tenure, he entered the Transvaal Legislative Council and was made Director of Education under Lord Milner. In 1905 Lord Glenesk invited him to become editor of the Morning Post. He accepted and filled this post with distinction. He resigned in 1911 to join Lord Milner on the Board of the Rio Tinto Company.

Upon the outbreak of war in 1914, Ware discovered that at 45, he was too old to be accepted by the Army for active service. With the assistance of his patron Lord Milner, he was appointed to command a mobile unit of the British Red Cross Society. He arrived in France in September 1914. He was quickly struck by the absence of any official organisation responsible for the marking and recording of the graves of those killed. He undertook to rectify this state of affairs and in 1915 the organisation he created was transferred from the Red Cross to the Army. Ware was twice mentioned in despatches, and ended the war as a Major General.

From the outset Ware had been anxious that the spirit of Imperial co-operation, so evident in the war effort, should be reflected in his work. This multinational aspect was clearly recognised by the Imperial War Conference and in May 1917 the Imperial War Graves Commission was established with the Prince of Wales as its President and Ware as Vice-Chairman, a post he was to hold until retirement in 1948. As early as 1916 Ware arranged for advice on the horticultural treatment of cemeteries to be provided by the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, and under his leadership the most distinguished architects of the day were engaged to design the war cemeteries and memorials. He was indefatigable in his dealings with foreign Governments in obtaining formal agreements to secure recognition of the Commission's duties and to facilitate its work. At the same time he was shaping the Commission's organisation to meet efficiently the urgent demands of constructing and maintaining the cemeteries and memorials, of compiling records of all those killed, of publishing registers of those commemorated and of responding to requests for information from relatives.

In 1937 he published The Immortal Heritage, an account of the work of the Commission during and following the Great War. The outbreak of World War II in 1939 saw Ware return to the War Office as Director of Graves Registration and Enquiries, whilst at the same time continuing his duties as Vice-Chairman of the Commission. 'He was appointed CMG in 1917, CB in 1919, KBE in 1920 and KCVO in 1922. He was a chevalier and later a grand officer of the Legion of Honour, and held the croix de guerre; he was also a commander of the Order of the Crown of Belgium, and an honorary LLD (1929) of the University of Aberdeen.'

He died at home at Amberley in Gloucestershire on 29th April 1949 and is buried there in Holy Trinity Churchyard. His grave is watched over by the Commission and a Commission pattern headstone marks the grave. A tablet was erected to his memory in the Warrior's Chapel at Westminster Abbey and also one in Gloucester Cathedral. However, his monument is undeniably the Commission and its works.

 

   

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