30 May 2017
CWGC 100th Anniversary – Part I

May 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s inception. In honour of this occasion, we will be starting a new series exploring the creation of both the CWGC and the many memorials and cemeteries it now cares for in perpetuity.

Sir Fabian Ware (Photo presented to Mrs Isabel Ward his great niece 2008). Credit: Commonwealth War Graves Commission, History of CWGC, 2017.

At the onset of war, former schoolmaster, Director of Education in the Transvaal, Morning Post editor and mining director, Fabian Ware found himself too old to serve in the British Expeditionary Force. With a wealth of worldly experience and determined to still do his bit at the age of 45, Ware managed to obtain command of a mobile ambulance unit with the British Red Cross.

Once overseas, Ware became troubled by the absence of an official process for the marking and recording of the fallen. Under his own initiative and direction, Ware’s ambulance unit began recording and caring for all graves they came across. Ware’s efforts quickly drew the attention of his superiors and his unit was transferred from the British Red Cross to the British Army. The War Office followed suit by providing Ware’s unit official recognition as the Graves Registration Commission in 1915. By October of the same year, Ware’s unit had 31,000 graves registered.