Cart de Lafontaine; Henry Philip Leopold (1884-1963); Lt Col; architect
Cart de Lafontaine
Henry Philip Leopold
The information in the above entry has been used with permission kindly granted by Gavin Stamp, author of Silent Cities (London: Royal Institute of British Architects, 1977).
Other sources include: CWGC Archive, IWGC staff card index; CWGC Archive, WG 984, COMMISSION MEETING NO. 22, 20/04/1920; CWGC Archive, WG 1040, Tripartite Meetings - Belgo/Franco/Anglo, 22/4/1920 - 17/7/1922; CWGC Archive, WG 605, Land Acquisition - Belgium, 1/2/1919 - 12/11/1936; "Who Was Who, 1961-1970" (London: Bloomsbury, 1979); (Captain) F. Clive Grimwade, "War History of the 4th Bn., The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers), 1914-1919" (London: Headquarters of the 4th London Regiment, 1922); The London Gazette, 23rd July 1940, Supplement 34905, Page 4597
Lieutenant Colonel Henry Philip Leopold Cart de Lafontaine OBE TD FRIBA was an architect and the Commission's Chief Inspector of Works, also performing special duties in terms of land acquisition and architectural design.
Henry Philip Cart de Lafontaine was born on 30 March 1884 in Switzerland. He completed his architectural training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and was articled to Sir Guy Dawber RA in 1911. He was also a pupil of Sir Reginald Blomfield, later one of the Commission's Principal Architects.
In September 1914, during the First World War, Cart de Lafontaine was commissioned as a Captain with the 4th Royal Fusilier Battalion of the London Regiment. He departed for Malta in command of "D" Company. On 27th June 1915, whilst fighting at Neuve-Chapelle in France, Cart de Lafontaine's headquarters was hit directly by an enemy shell, which killed his second-in-command and caused Cart de Lafontaine to suffer a severe bout of shellshock. In September 1916, he was promoted to the rank of Major.
In July 1919, Cart de Lafontaine was appointed Inspector of Works of the Imperial War Graves Commission (IWGC) and was involved in liaising with French municipal authorities concerning perpetual concessions for war grave plots, the forestalling of private acquisitions and the prevention of unauthorised exhumations. Cart de Lafontaine also designed the coloured and gilded gesso memorial tablets in place at over thirty cathedrals throughout Belgium and France. He resigned from his position as Inspector of Works on 29 February 1920.
Despite his resignation, in April 1920, Cart de Lafontaine requested to be permitted to design Carnoy Military Cemetery, where his brother Alfred was buried. He was subsequently appointed as Junior Architect for Carnoy Military Cemetery and, at his own request, was not paid any salary or fee, besides his travel expenses.
Cart de Lafontaine was created an OBE in 1920. In July 1940, Lt. Col. Cart de Lafontaine was mentioned in the London Gazette: "Lt.-Col. H. P. L. Cart de Lafontaine,
O.B.E., T.D. (42761), having attained the age limit, retires and retains his rank with permission to wear the prescribed uniform. 30th Mar. 1939."
Following his work with the Commission, Cart de Lafontaine held several positions in architectural organisations and associations:
• One of the Founding Members of the Franco-British Union of Architects (November 1921)
• Designer of Commonwealth House, Holborn, London (1939)
• Member of the Inter-Allied Committee for Physical Planning & Reconstruction (1944)
• Consulting Architect, Crafts Centre of Great Britain (1947)
• Chairman of Council, Royal Drawing Society (1947)
• Member of the Council for the International Union of Architects (1949)
• President of the Town Planning Institute (1950-51)
He died on 2 February 1963, aged 78.
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