On today in 1915, Second Lieutenant John Kipling of the British army, the only real son of Nobel Prize-winning author Rudyard Kipling, is killed at the Battle of Loos, in the Artois section of France.
The Battle of Loos, component 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 higher than in virtually any prior battle of the war. The names of the British soldiers killed on the opening day of battle alone filled 4 columns in London’s Times newspaper the next morning.
The British made five separate attempts to push previous German positions at the Bois Hugo forest right before calling off the attack on September 27. One of the numerous officers reported “missing” immediately after facing machine-gun fire and shellfire from the Bois Hugo was Second Lieutenant John Kipling. His physique was never found neither have already been these of many of his fellow officers. Twenty-seven soldiers under their command have already been also killed.
Rudyard Kipling, probably greatest-known for his classic children’s novel The Jungle Book (1894), wrote a haunting elegy to his son later, also to the legions of sons lost in the First World War:
That flesh we’d nursed from the initial in every 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 will take expiation.
But who shall return us our children?