Rudyard Kipling’s lost son – ‘My Boy Jack’

Daniel Radcliffe and David Haig, John and Rudyard in My Boy JackOpening this month at Imperial War Museum, London, is the first exhibition to tell the full story of Rudyard Kipling’s only son, John, who was reported missing in action at the age of 18 in the Battle of Loos in 1915.  Rarely seen items from the Imperial War Museum’s archives will be on display, including John’s last letter to his family. The exhibition coincides with a new ITV1 drama, My Boy Jack, which stars Daniel Radcliffe as John.

John Kipling, a Lieutenant in the Irish Guards, is named on Wellington College Roll of Honour.  John’s body was never recovered in Rudyard’s lifetime, but in 1992 the Commonwealth War Graves Commission reported that it had located John’s burial place (see CWGC record).  However, there remains controversy over whether this identification is correct and if the officer buried there is, in fact, Jack.

Several verses written by John’s father, Rudyard, were used as inscriptions on war memorials.  This includes the well-known phrase, ‘Lest we forget’, popularised by Kipling in his poem, Recessional.  Written originally for Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee in 1897, it came to be used on a great many memorials after the First World War.  We current list 649 memorials on our database that include it. 

  1. Pingback: UKNIWM

  2. Bob Waterhouse said:

    I feel for R.K in the loss of his son on his 18th B/d as depicted in My Boy Jack . Our family was lucky that my father, (Jack ) joined up at the age of 15yrs 11.5 months with his parents permission into the 11th Bat AIF in West Australia.
    After 6 weeks t’ng he was on his way to Egypt and then to Bulford Camp UK. fortunately due to his age he was t’fd to the Medical Corp until the age of 18Yrs ( 19 yrs Aust Min’ age standard to the Front.)
    He went into Battle at Villeret on 18 Sept 1918 @4.30 am , on his 19th birthday. He survived the battle after advance of 3000yards. After, when burying their dead at Tincourt as Co’ Bugler he would have played the Last Post at the burial of Two of their officers, Darnell and Archibald and others. I returned his Bugle to France in Aug 2010, it was played again at Tincourt and Villiers Brett’ where his school buddy is recorded as’ Known only to God “.
    I arranged with the Menin Gate Bugle Assoc’ to have a Bugler to play Jack’s Bugle at their Ceremony on the 14 Aug 2010.
    They featured the ceremony on their Website as an acknowledgement to Jack and members of the 11th Bat AIF

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: