John Kipling killed at the Battle of Loos

John Kipling killed at the Battle of Loos

On September 27, 1915, Second Lieutenant John Kipling of the British army, the only son of Nobel Prize-winning author Rudyard Kipling, is killed at the Battle of Loos, in the Artois region of France.

The Battle of Loos, part of a joint Allied offensive on the Western Front, began on September 25, 1915, and engaged 54 French and 13 British divisions on a front of some 90 kilometers running from Loos in the north to Vimy Ridge in the south. The death toll at Loos was greater than in any previous battle of the war. The names of the British soldiers killed on the opening day of battle alone filled four columns in London’s Times newspaper the following morning.

The British made five separate attempts to push past German positions at the Bois Hugo forest before calling off the attack on September 27. One of the many officers reported “missing” after facing machine-gun fire and shellfire from the Bois Hugo was Second Lieutenant John Kipling. His body was never found; neither were those of several of his fellow officers. Twenty-seven soldiers under their command were also killed.

Rudyard Kipling, perhaps best-known for his classic children’s novel The Jungle Book (1894), later wrote a haunting elegy to his son, and to the legions of sons lost in the First World War:

That flesh we had nursed from the first in all cleanness was given…

To be blanched or gay-painted by fumes – to be cindered by fires –

To be senselessly tossed and retossed in stale mutilation

From crater to crater. For this we shall take expiation.

But who shall return us our children?


War history: The too-short life of John Kipling and the mysteries he left behind

Jo Hook ? a military historian and Galloway guide ? concludes the story of Rudyard Kipling’s only son, John, and his involvement in the Battle of Loos John Kipling landed at Le Havre, France, on his 18th birthday.

Rudyard Kipling, who was understandably shattered by the loss of his only son - Credit: Alamy

He notes “the men are behaving splendidly and the weather is top hole!” He left Le Havre on August 18, 1915, by train, making his way nearer and nearer to the front. At the same time his father, Rudyard Kipling, was reporting from France as a war correspondent. John followed avidly his father’s progress, including newspaper clippings of his father’s travels in his letters home.

As the men neared the front, transportation took the form of the hob-nailed marching boot. The French pavé took its toll as Rupert Grayson, fellow officer and friend of John Kipling, recounts. “The men were even wearier and footsore than I. They squatted on their packs with drooping heads like winded horses.”

John’s letters home are filled with requests for little essentials to make life more comfortable: chocolate and biscuits (not digestives), writing paper, a refill for his Orilux lamp, some Colgate tooth powder, tobacco (in 2oz tins), a portable glass in a strong case and some literature were some of the requests.

As the weather broke the rain became incessant, making conditions difficult. John: “. it keeps on raining like Hades… will you send me an oilskin coat?”

A headstone marking the loss of young John Kipling during the Battle of Loos - Credit: Archant


The fate of Rudyard Kipling's son

According to The Independent, John Kipling himself wanted to serve, but he was extremely near-sighted, and so he was rejected for service by both the Army and the Navy. But his father had friends in places high enough to land John a commission as a second lieutenant in the Irish Guards. The year was 1914. John was all of 17 years old. And as a teenager, John led his men into the Battle of Loos. By the time the carnage was over, no progress had been made, no ground was gained, and British casualties totaled over 50,000, more than twice those of Germany. One of those casualties was John Kipling.

Officially, he was declared injured and missing, and his parents were frantic. With what amounted to Rudyard's pro-British propaganda pieces, the Kiplings were horrified at how John might suffer as a prisoner. John's parents searched field hospitals, studied battle reports, and interviewed John's surviving comrades, all to no avail. Kipling was ravaged by grief in the years to come. Tragically, his quest for answers was never satisfied. It wasn't until 1992 that researchers claimed to have identified his remains, but even that is questionable. Sadly, Rudyard Kipling died in 1936.


First World War mystery of Kipling’s son solved.

The rural English village of Burwash in the county of Sussex is well-known because of its association with Rudyard Kipling. The famous author of ‘The Jungle book’ written in 1894, when Kipling was living in Vermont, Canada, and the poem ‘If’, published in 1910.

Like so many English villages, Burwash saw many of its young men march off to fight in the trenches in First World War battlefields. A lot of those men never came home again – almost a million men died in what was referred to as ‘The Great War’. There is a memorial to the men of Burwash who sacrificed their lives fighting for their country, and among the 135 names inscribed there is that of Lieutenant John Kipling of the 2 nd Battalion Irish Guards, who died, aged 18 years, on 29 th September 1915.

John was Rudyard Kipling’s son, born in Sussex in 1897. When the war was declared, in 1914, John was keen to play his part, and first applied to join the Royal Navy. He was rejected because of his poor eyesight, so he used his famous father’s name to secure a place as a commissioned officer in the Irish Guards.

John Kipling celebrated his 18 th birthday in August 1914 and arrived in France the same day. A short period of training followed after which he was sent to take part in what has become known as the Battle of Loos, on the Western Front. The battle is notorious for the huge losses suffered by the British army.

In the first four hours of the battle, 8,000 men were killed, and by the end, British losses totalled 59,247. It was a disaster, and John Kipling was among the dead. The exact circumstances of his death were not known at the time.

John’s body was never found, despite vigorous efforts by his father to get at the facts. Rudyard Kipling was embittered by the loss of his son, and he never stopped trying to discover where his remains lay. He died, aged 70, in January 1936.

In 1992, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission suddenly changed the name on an unknown soldier’s headstone to ‘John Kipling’, sparking a wave of interest.

In 2002, research by military historians Tonie and Valmai Holt suggested that this grave may be that of another officer, Arthur Jacob of the London Irish Rifles.

Meticulous research has revealed that the remains in the grave can be none other than those of Kipling’s son. John Kipling finally had a memorial of his own, almost 80 years after his death. There were three issues that needed to be solved before the unknown soldier could be identified as Kipling’s son:

  1. There was another lieutenant that had gone missing at the same time, it was later learned he was taken to hospital
  2. The body was recovered a few miles from where John Kipling was fighting, this turned to be a clerical error.
  3. The recovered body had the rank of first lieutenant while John was officially a second lieutenant, this too proved to be an error as he was shown to be paid a first lieutenant salary.

With these three issues solved, there could be no doubt that the recovered body was in fact John Kipling

“It is one of the great ironies that Kipling should have been the person to select the phrase ‘known unto God’ for all unknown soldiers, and then not know what happened to his own son,” says Phillip Mallett, author of Kipling: A Literary Life to the BBC.

Kipling worked with Winston Churchill to ensure that all gravestones were the same shape and size, regardless of military rank. The long lines of matching gravestones lining war cemeteries are their legacy.


On This Day June

John Kipling killed at the Battle of Loos September 27, 1915
----------
On this day in 1915, Second Lieutenant John Kipling of the British army, the only son of Nobel Prize-winning author Rudyard Kipling, is killed at the Battle of Loos, in the Artois region of France.


The Battle of Loos, part of a joint Allied offensive on the Western Front, began on September 25, 1915, and engaged 54 French and 13 British divisions on a front of some 90 kilometers running from Loos in the north to Vimy Ridge in the south. The death toll at Loos was greater than in any previous battle of the war. The names of the British soldiers killed on the opening day of battle alone filled four columns in London&rsquos Times newspaper the following morning.

The British made five separate attempts to push past German positions at the Bois Hugo forest before calling off the attack on September 27. One of the many officers reported &ldquomissing&rdquo after facing machine-gun fire and shellfire from the Bois Hugo was Second Lieutenant John Kipling. His body was never found neither were those of several of his fellow officers. Twenty-seven soldiers under their command were also killed.

Rudyard Kipling, perhaps best-known for his classic children&rsquos novel The Jungle Book (1894), later wrote a haunting elegy to his son, and to the legions of sons lost in the First World War:


John Kipling killed at the Battle of Loos - HISTORY

Second Lieutenant John Kipling of the British army, the only son of Nobel Prize-winning author Rudyard Kipling, is killed at the Battle of Loos, in the Artois region of France.

The Battle of Loos, part of a joint Allied offensive on the Western Front, began on September 25, 1915, and engaged 54 French and 13 British divisions on a front of some 90 kilometers running from Loos in the north to Vimy Ridge in the south. The death toll at Loos was greater than in any previous battle of the war. The names of the British soldiers killed on the opening day of battle alone filled four columns in London’sTimes newspaper the following morning.

The British made five separate attempts to push past German positions at the Bois Hugo forest before calling off the attack on September 27. One of the many officers reported “missing” after facing machine-gun fire and shellfire from the Bois Hugo was Second Lieutenant John Kipling. His body was never found neither were those of several of his fellow officers. Twenty-seven soldiers under their command were also killed.

Rudyard Kipling, perhaps best-known for his classic children’s novel The Jungle Book(1894), later wrote a haunting elegy to his son, and to the legions of sons lost in the First World War:

That flesh we had nursed from the first in all cleanness was given…

To be blanched or gay-painted by fumes – to be cindered by fires –


The Great War and its aftermath: The son who haunted Kipling

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The British military top brass told their men they were about to take part in the "the greatest battle in the history of the world". What they were about to experience, however, was a "bloody great balls-up" on an industrial scale.

For Rudyard Kipling, the most famous author of the age, the carnage at Loos on the Western Front in September 1915 plunged him into inner darkness. His only son, John, for whom he had written his best-loved poem, If, had been killed in the action just six weeks after his 18th birthday.

Last seen on the second day of the ill-fated attack, stumbling blindly through the mud, screaming in agony after an exploding shell had ripped his face apart, the failure to find John's remains fuelled the author's obsession that his son had survived. But it was not to be. Kipling eventually came to accept John's fate. And despite a grief-stricken crusade to find them, the remains of his "dear old boy" were not officially "discovered" until 1992. Yet there are those who believe that the body interned in a grave bearing his name at plot seven, row D of St Mary's Advanced Dressing Station Cemetery, near Loos, are not those of the author's son.

John's death rocked his father's belief in the British military elite, particularly General Douglas Haig, who went on to lead the war effort as a result of the battle. Loos was also to transform the way Britain's war dead were remembered. But it did nothing to dent Kipling's deep and passionate patriotism.

It was more than a year into the First World War when the Anglo-French forces, bogged down on the Western Front, sought to deliver a long-awaited breakthrough.

The British offensive boasted six divisions under the leadership of General Haig, and despite outnumbering the opposition by seven to one, the surrounding countryside bristled with German machine-gunners.

Perceiving - rightly - that he had insufficient artillery, Haig ordered his officers to deploy 140 tons of chlorine gas, the first time chemical weapons were used in the war. After a four-day bombardment, in which 250,000 shells were fired, British troops took Loos, only to lose it the following day as the Germans launched a counter-offensive, driving them back to their original positions.

As the British fought back, they advanced without artillery support, and were cut down in their thousands by a blizzard of German machine-gun fire.

The reserves arrived too late and communications lines failed. The wind changed direction, resulting in the gassing of thousands of British troops.

By the end of the week there were some 75,000 casualties, two-thirds of them British. Among the dead was the poet Charles Sorley and the young brother of the future Queen Mother, Fergus Bowes-Lyon. The "balls-up" was recorded for posterity by one survivor, a young Robert Graves, in his autobiographical Gooodbye To All That.

Like many of those who fell alongside him, Loos was John Kipling's first taste of war. He joined the fray two days into the battle as part of a reinforcement contingent of Irish Guards.

John had been desperate to join up, and even before the war, the military had been his longed-for destiny. While Rudyard might have chosen the Navy, young John wanted to be a soldier. But his eyesight, like his father's, was appalling. His was so poor that he was unable to read the second letter on the chart, despite his thick glasses.

"John was extremely keen to join up. Like pretty much everyone else he thought it would be a short war and wanted to play his part," said Michael Smith, a vice-president of the Kipling Society. "He went at the beginning to try and enlist on his own, but was rejected. Later he tried again, this time accompanied by his father, but again he was rejected."

It was time to pull some strings. His father was at the height of his celebrity. The world's youngest Nobel literary laureate, his was the authentic voice of empire, whose work beat the drum for the jingoistic spirit of the times.

And the writer's military connections were at the very highest level. Rudyard had been life-long friends with Lord Roberts, commander-in-chief of the British Army, and colonel of the Irish Guards.

John was accepted into the regiment and began his training as an officer cadet at Warley Barracks. In many ways the young Kipling cut an undistinguished figure. He struggled to make it into Wellington School, relying on the services of a crammer to pass the entrance exam.

He was fond of cricket but not reading. Although he was brought up listening to his father reading the Just So stories at bedtime, he never willingly picked up a book.

The young Kipling found himself embarrassed by his father's celebrity, particularly aged 12 after the publication of If - the poem dedicated to him.

The close relationship between father and son grew out of Kipling's own unhappy childhood experiences. According to Tonie Holt, author of My Boy Jack? The Search for Kipling's Only Son, the youngster exerted a profound effect during his short life. "He was a sparky little guy and has been virtually ignored by everybody in the story of Rudyard Kipling," he said.

After the loss of his older sister, Josephine, who died during a violent Atlantic crossing in 1899 which nearly claimed Rudyard Kipling himself, John became the centre of his father's attentions. "He was besotted with his son," says Mr Holt. "They would correspond regularly, his 'dear dada' was always giving him advice on what to do."

When he finally joined up John lived the life of a typical upper middle-class subaltern. His military commitments scarcely interfered with his busy social life. Although he was not considered a playboy, young Kipling was a regular visitor to London night clubs, and loved the country house parties at the family home, Batemans in Sussex. Like his father, he was a motoring enthusiast, owned his own motor bike, and enjoyed mixing with the cream of Victorian society.

His parents remained realistic about his survival chances. After his mother, Carrie, waved him off, she wrote in her diary: "There is nothing else to do. The world must be saved from the German . One can't let one's friends and neighbours' sons be killed in order to save us and our son."

Yet when it came to it, John's death was a hammer blow to Kipling, who was working as a war reporter in France at the time. The news was delivered by his friend, the Tory leader Andrew Bonar Law, and the author cried a "curse like the cry of a dying man".

According to Michael Smith: "The Kiplings were devastated. They thought with any luck he may have been kidnapped - even dropping leaflets over the frontline by plane seeking information about his whereabouts."

Tonie Holt described how the author carried out hundreds of interviews with his late son's comrades, building up a detailed picture of his last moments. He believes that it is through this research that the claim that John's remains are in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission can be disproved. Not only is the rank on the gravestone wrong - Kipling's promotion to Lieutenant had yet to be announced in the London Gazette - but the remains were found some two miles from where he fell, at a feature called Chalk-Pit Wood.

The devastated father threw himself into his work, becoming a prominent member of the commission. He took part in the creation of the pristine rows of Portland stone graveyards, which now honour Britain's fallen, selecting the Biblical phrase "Their Name Liveth For Evermore" as a fitting epitaph.

Yet his career was by now in decline, and his work failed to strike a chord with a generation traumatised by the memory of the slaughter of the trenches.

Rudyard Kipling remained unbowed in his political views and remained a vehement opponent of German rearmament. His love of the military was also undimmed - he wrote a regimental history of the Irish Guards, considered to be one of the finest ever and which contains a heartbreakingly brief description of his own son's death.

He was never able to write directly about John's loss. My Boy Jack is about a sailor - but still a thinly disguised poem about regret and mourning. Shadows of guilt have also been detected in his later work. "If any question why we died/ Tell them, because our fathers lied" is thought to refer to his role in helping his son to bypass the military eyesight rules.

Rudyard Kipling lived until January 1936. But father and son live on in the nation's consciousness. If remains Britain's favourite poem.

Have you news of my boy Jack?'
Not this tide.
'When d'you think that he'll come back?'
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

'Has any one else had word of him?'
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

'Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?'
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind -
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!


History chanel

John Kipling killed at the Battle of Loos September 27, 1915
----------
On this day in 1915, Second Lieutenant John Kipling of the British army, the only son of Nobel Prize-winning author Rudyard Kipling, is killed at the Battle of Loos, in the Artois region of France.


The Battle of Loos, part of a joint Allied offensive on the Western Front, began on September 25, 1915, and engaged 54 French and 13 British divisions on a front of some 90 kilometers running from Loos in the north to Vimy Ridge in the south. The death toll at Loos was greater than in any previous battle of the war. The names of the British soldiers killed on the opening day of battle alone filled four columns in London&rsquos Times newspaper the following morning.

The British made five separate attempts to push past German positions at the Bois Hugo forest before calling off the attack on September 27. One of the many officers reported &ldquomissing&rdquo after facing machine-gun fire and shellfire from the Bois Hugo was Second Lieutenant John Kipling. His body was never found neither were those of several of his fellow officers. Twenty-seven soldiers under their command were also killed.

Rudyard Kipling, perhaps best-known for his classic children&rsquos novel The Jungle Book (1894), later wrote a haunting elegy to his son, and to the legions of sons lost in the First World War:


History Fact Funny

John Kipling killed at the Battle of Loos September 27, 1915
----------
On this day in 1915, Second Lieutenant John Kipling of the British army, the only son of Nobel Prize-winning author Rudyard Kipling, is killed at the Battle of Loos, in the Artois region of France.


The Battle of Loos, part of a joint Allied offensive on the Western Front, began on September 25, 1915, and engaged 54 French and 13 British divisions on a front of some 90 kilometers running from Loos in the north to Vimy Ridge in the south. The death toll at Loos was greater than in any previous battle of the war. The names of the British soldiers killed on the opening day of battle alone filled four columns in London&rsquos Times newspaper the following morning.

The British made five separate attempts to push past German positions at the Bois Hugo forest before calling off the attack on September 27. One of the many officers reported &ldquomissing&rdquo after facing machine-gun fire and shellfire from the Bois Hugo was Second Lieutenant John Kipling. His body was never found neither were those of several of his fellow officers. Twenty-seven soldiers under their command were also killed.

Rudyard Kipling, perhaps best-known for his classic children&rsquos novel The Jungle Book (1894), later wrote a haunting elegy to his son, and to the legions of sons lost in the First World War:


Rudyard Kipling and His Son’s Disappearance

John Kipling, son of poet Rudyard Kipling, disappeared during the First World War at the age of eighteen. His disappearance left the poet a shell of his former self, and he wrote about his son multiple times after the young man went missing in action. While WWI-era poetry lost its optimism early on, as seen by the poetry of Robert Graves, poor Rudyard Kipling was left without closure. He knew his son was dead, but knew not how it happened.

Those who knew the poet saw him descending into a hopeless cynicism soon after he stopped receiving word of his son. What was known was that John had been part of the Irish Guard which fought near a French town called Loos in the war’s first year. Rudyard Kipling had already lost his oldest child, his daughter Josephine, many years before when she succumbed to whooping cough while on family holiday. John’s death was more than he and his wife could bear.

The poet had a great deal of affection for his son, who he believed to be the embodiment of character. Even though John was not an academic like himself, the poet had high hopes that the boy would grow to find some measure of success in life. Rudyard Kipling originally wanted his son to find this success in the navy, but tailored his hopes more realistically when it became clear that John’s eyesight would never be good enough for proper seafaring. It was almost not good enough for the military at all, and the poet had to speak on his son’s behalf before John would be granted permission to serve, thestar.com reports.

The sad truth regarding the poet’s young son is that he was most likely torn asunder by artillery, as was the fate of many young souls during the First World War. While his name was eventually engraved upon a tombstone, there is no hard evidence that this tombstone is truly his. Rudyard Kipling even requested, upon joining the Imperial War Graves Commission, that the record should show his son was never found. He is presumed dead as of the Battle of Loos, on September the 27 th of 1915.

Rudyard Kipling went on to compose a poem entitled “My Boy Jack,” all about a sailor lost at sea. Many see a notable connection between Jack of the poem and his son John, both of whom vanished at a very young age. The poem also shows a degree of pride for the young Jack, something which Rudyard Kipling undoubtedly felt for John, who gave his life to a great cause shared by the whole of a nation in the throes of war.


RELATED ARTICLES

He left school shortly before the start of the First World War, and was keen to join the Army having previously served in the Officer Training Corps.

The teenager applied for an officer's commission when war broke out, but was turned down because his eyesight was too bad.

After an intervention from Field Marshal Lord Roberts, a friend of his father's, Jack landed a position with the Irish Guards.

Grave: This is the final resting place of John Kipling, in St Mary's Cemetery in northern France

BELOVED AUTHOR WHO NEVER GOT OVER SON'S MYSTERIOUS DEATH

Rudyard Kipling's novels, poems and children's books made him one of the most beloved authors of the Victorian and Edwardian era.

He is best known for works such as the inspirational poem If, as well as The Jungle Book which chronicles the adventures of Mowgli, a boy raised by animals in the jungles of India.

Kipling had three children, of whom the only boy was John - and the poet always struggled to cope with his death at the Battle of Loos aged just 18.

As well as the poem My Boy Jack, widely thought to be a reference to his son, Kipling wrote the line: 'If any question why we died / Tell them, because our fathers lied.'

Critics have speculated that Kipling was wracked with guilt over his role in helping his son join the army, and he spent years trying to find out exactly what had happened to him.

However, the death of his son did nothing to change Kipling's fiercely patriotic and imperialist views.

He arrived in France on his 18th birthday, August 17, 1915, and just six weeks later he was commanding a platoon at the Battle of Loos.

Jack, who had recently been promoted to lieutenant, was known to be wounded but subsequently disappeared, and was still listed as missing by the end of the war three years later.

Weeks after his death, Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem about him which begins with the line: 'Have you news of my boy Jack?'

In 1919, the body of an unidentified Irish Guards lieutenant was found on the battlefield, and was buried in an anonymous grave at St Mary's Cemetery.

More than two decades ago, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission announced that the grave was in fact Jack's, and erected a headstone to him.

Critics immediately denied that it could be his, saying that the body was found three miles away from where Jack was last seen and claiming that he was still a second lieutenant on the day of the battle.

But researchers Graham Parker and Joanna Legg have now discovered new evidence which suggests that the identification was correct and that Jack's body is indeed buried in the cemetery.

Adaptation: 2007 TV drama My Boy Jack, starrring Daniel Radcliffe, told the story of Kipling and his son

Writing in Stand To!, the journal of the Western Front Association, the pair reveal that the three-mile distance between Jack's disappearance and the body's discovery is nothing more than a mapping error.

In fact, the body was found close to where he was known to be fighting and was seen by witnesses shortly before his death.

Mr Parker and Ms Legg also prove that Jack's promotion to lieutenant had come through before the battle, so he was wearing a lieutenant's uniform when he died.

The authors conclude: 'On the balance of probabilities, the Irish Guards lieutenant found on September 23, 1919 must be Lieutenant John Kipling.'

Rudyard Kipling's poem about his son is often thought of as one of the most moving pieces of verse to have come out of the First World War.

The poem gave its name to a 1997 play and 2007 television film exploring Kipling's relationship with his son. The screen adaptation starred Daniel Radcliffe as Jack.

'HAVE YOU NEWS OF MY BOY JACK?' KIPLING'S EMOTIONAL TRIBUTE TO SON

Family: John Kipling with his sisters Carrie and Josephine when they were children


Watch the video: The trench - the end