Opening 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.