Commonwealth War Graves Commission
In 1915, Fabian Ware in command of a Red Cross Unit, landed in France. He was struck by the appalling loss of life and by the lack of any organisation to mark and record the graves of fallen soldiers. He began campaigning to persuade the War Office of the importance of commemorating the brave sacrifice of men and women from all over the British Empire.
As early as 1916, Ware was requesting help from distinguished horticulturalists at Kew and from the greatest architects, on how the cemeteries and memorials should be designed.
On 21 May, 1917 his diligence was rewarded when the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission was established by Royal Charter.
After the war, the Commission began to make cemeteries into the tranquil havens we see today. The task was gargantuan; a million Commonwealth men and women had lost their lives. Started in 1919, the building and planting of the Commission’s First World War cemeteries and memorials would take twenty years to complete. Just one year after the last memorial was unveiled, war once again engulfed Europe and the Commission was called upon once again to honour the fallen.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is now responsible for the graves and memorials of 1.7 million Commonwealth men and women who gave their lives in the two world wars. The Commission manages over 21,000 sites in 150 countries throughout the world.
The task is never-ending. Gardening takes place all year round while regular inspection and maintenance keeps the now aging structures in good repair. The Commission also works to inform, providing information when required and engaging a new generation in the importance of remembrance. Education and Community initiatives aim to ensure continued public awareness of the ultimate sacrifice made by so many young men and women in the name of freedom.
To find out more information about the place of commemoration of a relative or former comrade who fell in the First or Second World War call 01628 207200, e-mail , visit www.cwgc.org or write to Commonwealth War Graves Commission, 2 Marlow Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 7DX.
“We can truly say that the whole circuit of the earth is girdled with the graves of our dead… I have many times asked myself whether there can be more potent advocates of peace upon earth… than this massed multitude of silent witnesses to the desolation of war.”King George V, Flanders, 1922.