My Boy Jack? The Search for Kipling's Only Son
New edition with updated information
On 27 September 1915 John, the beloved son of the world-famous author Rudyard Kipling, was reported 'missing' in the Battle of Loos. Having pulled every string to get his myopic son into the Irish Guards, Kipling was devastated at the loss of his only 'man-child' and determined to find his final resting place. Despite his influential position and a lifelong search, he never succeeded in his quest.
In 1992, seventy-seven years later, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission named a previously unknown soldier buried in St Mary's ADS Cemetery in France as John Kipling. Intrigued by this unusual development Tonie and Valmai Holt, well -known for their battlefield tours and guidebooks, felt compelled to investigate further. In the process they became fascinated by the brief life of this young man, previously dismissed as intellectually inadequate and undistinguished. Instead, as this book reveals, they discover a likeable, humorous and brave young officer, remarkably unspoilt by his father's fame. They also reveal that John's death had a devastating effect on his father and greatly influenced his subsequent work.
Major & Mrs Holt's intensive researches led them to the conclusion (reinforced by the opinions of four qualified professionals which are reproduced at the end of this book) that the Commission's 1992 decision was unsound. In 2001, as a result of the Holt's new evidence, they duly agreed to reopen their investigations . They did not change their opinion but the Holt's believe that the wrong evidence was used and still believe the decision to be unsound.
Above image shows a portrait of John Kipling in Irish Guards Uniform and the new headstone in St Mary's ADS CWGC Cemetery, Loos
- Chapter 1: Rudyard's childhood
- Chapter 2: Rudyard's Young Manhood
- Chapter 3: John's Birth and Early Childhood
- Chapter 4: Growing Up
- Chapter 5: The Great War Starts
- Chapter 6: The Battle of Loos
- Chapter 7: My Boy Jack
- Chapter 8: I will Make Thee a Name
- Chapter 9: The Great War Ends
- Chapter 10: The Twilight Years
- Epilogue: Is it Really Jack?
- Postscript to this Edition
- What the Experts say about the Identification
- Select Bibliography
My Boy Jack on Television -
Daniel Radcliffe plays John Kipling
Daniel Radcliffe, best known as Harry Potter, and Kim Cattrall from Sex and the City, both starred in 'My Boy Jack', a two hour tv drama (ITV 11 November 2007) written by David Haig who played Rudyard Kipling.
In conjunction with the play the Imperial War Museum mounted an Exhibition 'My Boy Jack' which not only told the story of John Kipling's short life but also that of the disputed identification of his body. Tonie and Valmai Holt were the Consultants for the Exhibition.
Also in conjunction with the Exhibition the Holts published the Third Edition of their biography 'My Boy Jack?' and in an Appendix to this edition they presented clear evidence that calls into doubt the original identification of the unknown body and even suggests a possible alternative officer casualty.