First World War

The War Memorials of Herbert Baker

To mark the centenary of the founding of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, we look at 15 war memorials designed by Herbert Baker.

Today, 21 May 2017, marks the centenary of the founding by Royal Charter of the Imperial – now Commonwealth – War Graves Commission (CWGC). The Commission was the driving force in ensuring that those who died serving their country during the First World War were properly honoured and remembered.

In commemoration, we have upgraded or newly listed 15 of Sir Herbert Baker’s 24 English war memorials.  The eminent architect, along with fellow principal architects Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Reginald Blomfeld, worked on designing and constructing the CWGC’s profundly moving, sombre cemeteries and memorials.  Rudyard Kipling advised on inscriptions.

The War Cloister, Winchester College, Hampshire. DP189171Winchester College war cloister. © Historic England

During the First World War, hundreds of thousands of soldiers were hurriedly buried in temporary cemeteries by their comrades, their graves often marked by a simple wooden cross, with their name and brief details.  Government orders followed that no soldiers’ bodies were to be repatriated to Britain.  Instead, under the auspices of the CWGC led by the dynamic Fabian Ware, most were moved from their wartime graves and reburied with identical headstones – no matter their rank, race, religion or background – in specially designed war cemeteries in France and Belgium.

Over 2,400 such cemeteries were created in the two countries during the 1920’s, with Baker designing and supervising the construction of 113.  All continue to be meticulously cared for by the CWGC, along with others across the globe, ensuring that the 1.7 million people who died in both world wars will never be forgotten.

See 15 examples of Sir Herbert Baker’s English war memorials, plus his extraordinary Tyne Cot Memorial  in the gallery below. Click on the picture to read the full caption.

1 comment on “The War Memorials of Herbert Baker

  1. The work of the CWGC is very important for the next generations. As a brazilian and frequent visitor of the European Battlefields I can testimony the care that all the Memorials are treated. The atmosphere in the sites are very touching and we can fell sorrow and respect for All the Fallen. Thank you for you work.

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