Fabian Ware

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Sir Fabian Ware
Fabian Ware.jpg
Born (1869-06-17)17 June 1869
Clifton, Bristol
Died 28 April 1949(1949-04-28) (aged 79)
Amberley, Gloucestershire
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Rank Major General

Major General Sir Fabian Arthur Goulstone Ware KCVO KBE CB CMG (17 June 1869 – 28 April 1949) was the founder of the Imperial War Graves Commission, now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Early life[edit]

Born at Clifton, Bristol on 17 June 1869,[1] Ware attended the Universities of London and Paris, graduating as a Bachelier-es-Sciences at the latter in 1894. He then spent ten years as an assistant schoolmaster at several secondary schools, and as an occasional examiner for the Civil Service Commission and Inspector of Schools for the Board of Education.[2]

In 1899 he started writing articles for the Morning Post. He became the representative of the Education Committee of the Royal British Commission at the Exposition Universelle of 1900. He was then appointed as Assistant Director of Education in the Transvaal, where two years later he was promoted to Acting Director of Education for the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony. Shortly afterwards he was made Director of Education on the Transvaal Legislative Council under Viscount Milner. Returning to Britain in 1905, he was appointed as editor of the Morning Post, where he remained until 1911 when he became a director of Rio Tinto Limited.[2][3][4]

First World War[edit]

Blue plaque marking Ware's residence at 14 Wyndham Place, Marylebone

When the First World War started in August 1914 Ware attempted to join the British Army but was rejected because he was too old, and so with the assistance of Lord Milner, he obtained command of a mobile ambulance unit provided by the British Red Cross Society. He was soon struck by the lack of an official mechanism for marking and recording the graves of those killed. He set about changing this by founding an organisation to do this, and in 1915 both he and his organisation were transferred from the Red Cross to the Army.[1] By October 1915, the new Graves Registration Commission had over 31,000 graves registered, and 50,000 by May 1916.[5]

War Graves Commission[edit]

As the war continued, Ware became concerned about the fate of the graves after the war. With the help of Edward, Prince of Wales, in 1917, he submitted a memorandum on the subject to the Imperial War Conference. On 21 May 1917, the Imperial War Graves Commission was created by a Royal Charter, with the Prince of Wales as its President and Ware as its Vice-Chairman, a role that Ware held until his retirement in 1948.

In 1937 he published an account of the work of the commission called The Immortal Heritage.[6] The outbreak of the Second World War saw him appointed Director of Graves Registration and Enquiries at the War Office, whilst continuing in his role as Vice-Chairman of the Commission.

Memorial to Fabian Ware in Gloucester Cathedral

Ware died on 28 April 1949 in Barnwood House Hospital, Gloucester, and was buried in Holy Trinity Churchyard, Amberley on 2 May.[7] His grave has a CWGC-style headstone and is maintained by the commission. There are also memorial tablets to him in the Warrior's Chapel at Westminster Abbey and in Gloucester Cathedral.

The road 'Boulevard Fabian Ware' in Bayeux, the location of Bayeux War Cemetery, is named in honour of Fabian Ware.[8]



  1. ^ a b "Major General Sir Fabian Ware". Ministry of Defence Veterans Agency. Archived from the original on 5 August 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Sir Fabian Arthur Gouldstone Ware". Commonwealth War Graves Commission archives.
  3. ^ Stamp, Gavin (2010-08-06). The Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. Profile Books. ISBN 1847650600.
  4. ^ Russell, Eugenia; Russell, Quentin (2015-08-31). Watford and South West Herts in the Great War. Pen and Sword. ISBN 9781473866072.
  5. ^ "Records". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Archived from the original on 7 August 2006. Retrieved 17 September 2006.
  6. ^ Ware, Fabian (1937). The Immortal Heritage. An account of the work and policy of the Imperial War Graves Commission during twenty years 1917-1937 (1 ed.). Cambridge: University Press. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  7. ^ "Ware, Sir Fabian Arthur Goulstone". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/36741. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  8. ^ Holmes, Richard (1992). Fatal avenue: a traveller's history of the battlefields of Northern France and Flanders, 1346-1945. Jonathan Cape. p. 368.
Media offices
Preceded by
Spenser Wilkinson
Editor of the Morning Post
Succeeded by
Howell Gwynne