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Sir Fabian Ware

English Heritage Blue Plaque Honour for CWGC Founder Sir Fabian Ware

25 September 2014

As the nation marks the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War, English Heritage is honouring the little known work of Fabian Ware (1869-1949), the Commonwealth War Graves Commission founder, in ensuring that the graves of fallen soldiers were not lost forever.

Today, Ware's granddaughter, Gillian Ware, will unveil an English Heritage blue plaque to her grandfather at 14 Wyndham Place, an early 19th century grade II listed terraced house in Marylebone, which was his home between 1911 and 1919.

It was during these years that Ware volunteered for service in France with the British Red Cross. Struck by the volume of casualties and the need for a plan to mark their final resting places, he began recording the graves of soldiers killed in battle. Within a short time, Ware and his team were brought under the command of the British Army and given official responsibility for finding, marking and registering British graves in France.

The Imperial War Graves Commission, as it was then known, was formed in 1917 and three years later Ware received a Knighthood for his work.

Dr Stephen Wyatt - writer of the award winning 2008 Radio 4 play Memorials to the Missing, which dealt with the creation of the Imperial War Graves Commission - made the original proposal to English Heritage to receive the plaque.

Dr Stephen Wyatt said: "I proposed him for commemoration at the time of my play, saying that a man who did so much to create memorials to others deserved one of his own. I'm delighted that the Blue Plaques Panel has agreed with me."

Air Chief Marshal Sir Joe French, Vice Chairman of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, said: "As the Commonwealth War Graves Commission approaches its centenary, Sir Fabian Ware's legacy can be seen through the warmly received events CWGC has this year hosted in Normandy and Mons. These landmark anniversaries of both world wars were marked in immaculately maintained cemeteries, providing fitting tributes to the fallen.

Professor Ronald Hutton, Chairman of the English Heritage Blue Plaque Panel, said: "Fabian Ware's vision and tenacity secured a dignified final resting place for 1.7 million war dead and created a lasting legacy to their sacrifice. As the driving force behind the Commonwealth War Graves Commission he shaped the way we honour and remember those who died during the First and Second World Wars. Fabian Ware's lifetime work is now recognised by one of our blue plaques in London, the city where the Commonwealth War Graves Commission was founded and continues to this day."

Click here for the full media release.