|Source||CWGC Archive, T 571, Colin St. Clair Oakes; 'The Imperial War Graves Commission: Architectural Work following the 1939-45 War' (Reprinted from The Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects September and October 1953) in: CWGC Archive, Add 2/4/25, Article on Architectural Work of the IWGC 1939-1945 - Journal of The RIBA; Colin St Clair R Oakes in the England & Wales Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007. Accessed via Ancestry UK website on 24/04/2017; The London Gazette, 14th March 1972, Issue 45622, Page 3235.|
|Biographical Note||Colin St. Clair Rycroft Oakes was the Commission's Principal Architect for India, Pakistan and South-East Asia District after the Second World War.|
Colin St. Clair Oakes was born on 23 May 1908. In 1931, he was the Rome Scholar and in 1934 he was the Arthur Cates (Town Planning) Prizeman.
Between March 1936 and May 1938, Oakes was the Deputy Architect to the Government of Bengal and Acting Chief Architect from May until December 1936. During his tenure, he worked on the following: Custom House, Calcutta; New Jail, Dum Dum; Mercantile Marine Buildings, Hastings, Calcutta; Teesta Bridge, Sevoke; (alterations) Council Chamber, Bengal Legislative Assembly, Calcutta; Police Buildings, Beliagha, as well as numerous schools, office buildings and temporary housing in Bengal.
From July 1938 to September 1939, he was the Deputy Assistant Director of Works for the War Office and worked on new accommodation to house the expansion of the Territorial Army. Oakes participated in civic competitions with Hon. Mentions for Croydon Civic Centre (in collaboration with Gordon Maxwell) and South Rhodesia Houses of Parliament (in collaboration with R. Furneaux Jordan). He later worked at the Architectural Association and in private practice with R. Gordon Brown.
Oakes's military service commenced in 1929 as a Driver in the Territorial Army until 1932. He then served in as a Trooper with the Calcutta Light Horse between 1936 and 1938. During the Second World War, Oakes was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery and was promoted to the rank of Captain. He saw action in Arakan and Burma and gained an excellent service record in the Army.
In 1945, Oakes was recommended by Sir Edward Maufe, Artistic Adviser, to accompany a tour of India with the inspector at that time, as the Indian government was pressing for architectural work to commence as soon as possible. He was Senior Architect for India, Burma and South East Asia in November 1945. The position of Principal Architect to the Commission for India and South-East Asia District was then given to Oakes, which he held from 1 March 1947 until 31 March 1953. Oakes was deemed the most suitable candidate due to his knowledge of the regions and previous experience.
The work carried out was particularly challenging due to the distances and physical difficulties in several areas. Kranji War Cemetery and its accompanying Air Forces Memorial are probably the best known and most celebrated of Oakes's contributions to the Commission's architecture and it was unveiled on 2 March 1957 by Sir Robert Black, who was a former a prisoner of war of the Japanese and (at the time of the unveiling) was the Governor and Commander-in-Chief, Singapore.
Oakes also designed war cemeteries such as those at Kohima, Gauhaiti and Imphal in India, Kanchanaburi and Chungkai in Thailand, Sai Wan Bay in Hong Kong and Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery in Myanmar. His drawing for Kohima was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1947.
Outside of his work for the Commission, Oakes held the position of Deputy Architect to the Government of Bengal before the Second World War.
He died on 12 December 1971, aged 63.