Monday, January 25, 2016

Solving the Mystery of Rudyard Kipling’s Son

Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling – Britain’s Most Popular Writer


Rudyard Kipling had been Britain’s writer and the first Briton to win the Nobel Prize for Literature as well as the youngest winner. At the height of his career he was Britain’s most popular writer. Kipling was born in India in 1865 but was sent to live near Portsmouth.

 Andrew Lycett, Kipling biographer states that `he was brought out of the colour and excitement of India, which he clearly loved, to the drabness of South-sea and foster parents who treated him badly. Kipling, as an adult, travelled widely and it was on those bitter years in South-sea which had inspired his famous story – The Jungle Book.

The book was written in 1894 when Kipling was living in snowy Vermont and the tale became a remarkable success. Long before the WW1, the soldiers has fascinated Kipling and made his name with a collection of poetry, Barrack-Room Ballads. John, Kipling’s’ son was very keen to join the British war effort in 1915 and barred from joining the navy due to his weak eyesight, he was compelled to use his father’s influence in getting a commission in the infantry.

After an intervention from a friend of his father, Lord Roberts, Field Marshall, Jack managed to get a position with the Irish Guards.

John Wounded/Disappeared/Missing


On his 18th birthday on August 17, 1915, Jack arrived in France and only six weeks thereafter he was commanding a platoon at the Battle of Loos. Jack had recently been promoted to lieutenant and had been wounded though later had disappeared and was listed as missing by the end of the war three years thereafter.

Rudyard Kipling had written a poem, several weeks after his death about him which had begun with the line `have you news of my boy Jack?’For 80 years, the mystery of the missing body of John remained unsolved. Towards 1919, the body of an unidentified Irish Guard lieutenant had been located on the battlefield and had been buried in an anonymous grave at St. Mary’s Cemetery.

 Then in 1992, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission had announced that the grave had in fact been of Jack and had changed the inscription on the tombstone of an unknown soldier to read John Kipling.

New Evidence Found


However, critics instantly denied that it could be his, stating that the body had been discovered three miles away from where Jack had last been seen. But the researchers Graham Parker as well as Joanna Legg discovered some new evidence which indicated that the identification seems to be right and the body was indeed that of Jack which was buried in the cemetery.

There were three issues according to Ms Legg; firstly the reference seems to propose that the body had been found three miles away from where John had been fighting which has now been shown as a clerical error. Secondly the other lieutenant had gone missing at the same time and it was informed that the second officer had been taken away to a hospital at the time of the battle and was buried some distance from the battle scene.

Another issue was concerning John’s rank wherein on recovering the body, there were stars of a first lieutenant and Kipling was officially a second lieutenant. Ms Legg was of the belief that this was owing to an error in communication and John in fact had been promoted in June.