Did one man’s vision shape the way we bury our war dead?


1- Common sacrifice

Before the conflict of 1914-1918, wars were commemorated by celebrating the military leaders with ornate statues. The soldiers who had fought and died were buried in mass graves, often deemed unworthy of mention.

The First World War would change this. Never before had so many soldiers of the British Empire marched off to fight – or died in such numbers. But one man was determined to find a way to mark the sacrifice of each individual who had given their life for the common cause. In doing so, he would bring about one of the most significant civic design innovations of our age.


2- A new way of seeing

Fabian Ware headed to the Western Front in 1914, too old to fight but wanting to help behind the lines. Once there, he was shocked by what he saw and became determined that all soldiers of the British Empire should be remembered.


3- The blueprint for a foreign field

In 1918 and with Fabian Ware as Vice Chairman, the Imperial War Graves Commission published a report setting out the plans for the cemeteries and monuments.


4- The men who made it happen

Who were the key players who turned the vision into a reality? Select the images to find out more about what they did.


5- Equality in death

All soldiers ‘should have equal treatment in their graves’, the report had stated. Click on the headstone to find out more.


6- The silent Empires of the Dead

These cemeteries now stand in six of the seven continents on Earth, guided by the first principles of the Imperial War Graves Commission.




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