From the outset, the Commission was determined to employ the very best architects of their day to design the cemeteries and memorials. In 1918, three principal architects, Sir Edwin Lutyens, Sir Reginald Blomfield and Sir Herbert Baker, were appointed.
Assistant architects were also employed. Many of the assistant architects had served with the British forces during the war including William Harrison Cowlishaw, Noel Ackroyd Rew and W C von Berg.
After the Second World War, further cemeteries and memorials were needed, often in countries where the Commission had not worked before. The Commissioners were determined to maintain the high standards set in the aftermath of the First World War and engaged Sir Hubert Worthington, Philip Hepworth and Sir Edward Maufe to guide the building programmes.
Sir Edwin Lutyens
The distinguished British architect was born in 1869. He was commissioned by the Imperial War Graves Commission to design many of the cemeteries and memorials of the First World War. Many consider his work for the Commission his greatest. It was Lutyens, along with Sir Reginald Blomfield and Sir Herbert Baker, who first went to visit the temporary burial places in Northern France and Belgium to decide how to proceed with the design of the cemeteries.
It was his idea that all of the Commission cemeteries should contain a permanent monument - a Stone of Remembrance. Another structure, a cross, was proposed to reflect a Christian element. This would later be known as a Cross of Sacrifice.
Lutyens designed Thiepval Memorial in France, the largest Commonwealth memorial to the missing in the world. Construction began in 1928 and panels of Portland stone were inscribed with the names of the missing. His other work includes Delhi Memorial (India Gate), the Cenotaph, Whitehall, Tower Hill Memorial, Arch of Remembrance memorial in Leicester and Arras Memorial.
Sir Reginald Blomfield
Sir Reginald Blomfield was born in 1856. One of the first three architects commissioned to design the cemeteries and memorials, he was appointed Principal Architect for France in 1918.
Considered the most conventionally patriotic of the Commission's architects, Sir Reginald designed Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Belgium, one of the most well-known war memorials. He also contributed to the design of 118 cemeteries including Forceville Communal Cemetery and Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.
Another important contribution to the Commission was his design of the Cross of Sacrifice. He designed four versions of the cross, each one with a different height and featuring a bronze sword in the centre. Sir Reginald said he wanted to make it abstract and impersonal, to free it from association with any particular style and to keep clear of any of the sentimentalities of Gothic. It was a 'symbol of the ideals of those who had gone out to die'. His Cross of Sacrifice is recognisable throughout the world.
Sir Herbert Baker
Sir Herbert Baker was born in 1862. As one of the first three Principal Architects, he designed Tyne Cot Cemetery and its memorial in Belgium. Tyne Cot Cemetery is the largest CWGC cemetery in the world. His other work for the Commission includes Loos Memorial, Adanac Military Cemetery and Neuve Chapelle Memorial. He also worked in India and South Africa, where he designed a number of government buildings.
William Bryce Binnie
The Scottish architect was born in 1886. He received a Military Cross for his service in the Army in the First World War. Binnie was appointed Assistant Architect to the Imperial War Graves Commission in 1919, working in France and Belgium. He designed the Memorial to the Missing at Nieuport, Belgium, with sculpture by Charles Sargeant Jagger.
Harold Chalton Bradshaw
The British architect was born in 1893. His work includes several First World War cemeteries and memorials including the Cambrai Memorial to the Missing in France and the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing and its cemetery in Belgium.
H J Brown
Born in 1903, Brown designed cemeteries and memorials for the Commission in India and Pakistan including Rangoon Memorial, Delhi, Karachi, Kirkee, Madras and Taukkyan cemeteries. He became an associate member of The Royal Institute of British Architects in 1928.
Brown had a partnership with L C Moulin and designed the LIC Building in Chennai, India, completed in 1959. At the time of construction, this was the tallest building in Chennai and has remained an important landmark in the city.
Sir John Burnet
The Scottish architect was born in 1857. He was appointed Principal Architect for Palestine and Gallipoli. He designed cemeteries and memorials at Cape Helles, Lone Pine and Twelve Tree Copse, Gallipoli. He also designed the Jerusalem War Cemetery and its memorial chapel.
Louis de Soissons
The architect was born in Canada in 1890 and moved with his family to London as a child. His son Philip was killed at the age of 17 while serving aboard HMS Fiji, which was sunk by German bombers off the coast of Crete on 22 May 1941. He was the Commission’s Chief Architect for Second World War cemeteries and memorials in Italy and Greece. He designed over 40 cemeteries including Suda Bay War Cemetery in Crete.
As an architect for the Commission, he designed Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery, the first new CWGC cemetery for more than 50 years. It was unveiled in 2010 and contains the graves of 250 Australian and British servicemen who had lost their lives in the Battles of Fromelles in July 1916. He also designed the Brookwood 1914-1918 Memorial at Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey.
George Hartley Goldsmith
The architect was born in 1886. He was the Assistant Draughtsman to Sir Edwin Lutyens from 1907 to 1910 and was appointed Assistant Architect in 1919. He designed 67 cemeteries including the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery in France. He also designed the La Ferté-sous-Jouarre Memorial in France.
The British architect was born in 1890. He was appointed the Principal Architect for North West Europe by the Imperial War Graves Commission during the Second World War. His works are found in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany including Bayeux Memorial and Dunkirk Memorial.
Sir Frank Higginson
The architect was born in 1890. He was appointed Assistant Architect by the Imperial War Graves Commission and later acted as Secretary to the Commission. He designed Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery in Souchez, France. He was also a Captain in the Canadian Army from 1914 to 1918.
The British architect was born in 1875. He was appointed Principal Architect for France and designed 67 cemeteries including Passchendaele New British Cemetery, Poelcapelle British Cemetery and Polygon Wood Cemetery. Holden is also known for his London Underground designs created in the years between the wars.
Arthur James Scott Hutton
The Scottish architect was born in 1891. He was appointed Assistant Architect in France, Belgium and Germany, working under Sir Herbert Baker, Sir Reginald Blomfield and Sir Edwin Lutyens. He designed 67 cemeteries including Marzargues Indian Cemetery, Longueval, Fricourt and the Memorial at Arques-la-Bataille British Cemetery.
He also assisted Sir Robert Lorimer on cemeteries in Germany. He later worked for the Public Works Department in Kenya on the recommendation of Sir Herbert Baker, supervising the erection of government buildings.
George Esselmont Gordon Leith
The architect was born in 1885 in South Africa. He worked for Sir Herbert Baker in South Africa and designed cemeteries including Terlincthun British Cemetery and Calais Southern Cemetery under Baker.
Sir Robert Lorimer
The Scottish architect was born in 1864. He was appointed by the Imperial War Graves Commission as Principal Architect for Italy, Macedonia and Egypt. He designed the Memorial to the Missing at Lake Doiran in Greece.
Lorimer was also tasked with designing three identical monuments of 'unmistakable naval form'. Working with sculptor Henry Poole, he created tall obelisks to service as leading marks to ships out at sea. These memorials are at Portsmouth, Plymouth and Chatham. His other work includes the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle.
Sir Edward Maufe
The British architect was born in 1882. He was the Commission’s Principal Architect for the United Kingdom after the Second World War. He designed the Air Forces Memorial at Cooper's Hill overlooking Runnymede in Surrey (also known as Runnymede Memorial) and the extensions to Tower Hill Memorial and the naval memorials at Portsmouth, Plymouth and Chatham.
Colin St Clair Oakes
The architect designed cemeteries and memorials in Asia including Kranji War Cemetery and Singapore Memorial (also known as Kranji War Memorial) in Singapore and Sai Wan War Cemetery and Memorial in Hong Kong. He became an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1931.
Verner O Rees
Born in 1886, Rees was Assistant Architect to Sir Edwin Lutyens from 1910 to 1912. He designed the Memorial to the Missing at Soissons and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. He also served in the Artist's Rifles during the war.
Noel Ackroyd Rew
The British architect was born in 1880. He was appointed Assistant Architect for the Imperial War Graves Commission in 1919, recommended by Sir Reginald Blomfield. He designed more than 42 cemeteries including Bailleul Road and Serre Road.
John Reginald Truelove
The British architect was born in 1886. A former captain in the London Regiment, he was appointed Assistant Architect to the Commission in 1919. He designed several cemeteries including Noyelles-sur-mer Chinese Cemetery and Arques-la-Bataille British Cemetery.
W C von Berg
The British architect was born in 1894. He was appointed Assistant Architect to the Commission in 1919 and worked with Sir Reginald Blomfield, Sir Edwin Lutyens and Charles Holden. He designed more than 39 cemeteries including Bedford House Cemetery, near Ypres, Belgium and Sains-Les-Marquion British Cemetery in France.
Von Berg recalled how, in 1919, architects in France were appointed by the Commission. "A notice arrived in my Orderly Room stating that architects were invited to apply for positions in the Imperial War Graves Commission. Without a moment's hesitation, I saddled my horse, galloped off to a neighbouring town, was interviewed and accepted," he said.
The British architect and archaeologist was born in 1856. He was appointed Principal Architect for Mesopotamia in 1919, a difficult position in such a remote and inhospitable region. He designed the Memorial to the Missing in Basra and the Tomb of General Maude in Baghdad.
Sir Hubert Worthington
The British architect was born in 1886. He was appointed by the Imperial War Graves Commission as Principal Architect for Egypt and North Africa. His work required accepting the special demands of the terrain and climate of the regions. He designed El Alamein War Cemetery which contains more than 7,000 graves and Heliopolis War Cemetery.