On 27th September 1915 (100 years today) Rudyard Kipling‘s son John was killed in The Battle of Loos.
‘Have you news of my boy Jack?’
Not this tide
‘When d’you think that he’ll come back?’
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
At first he was seen limping on the field of conflict and believed to have been taken prisoner.
“I trust that your great anxiety may be allayed by definite news of his safety soon,” wrote John’s commanding officer. No such news ever came.
Kipling conducted a 2 year search in vain for news of his son. His grief, the same desperate grief of an entire nation (a nation burning with sadness, drowning in tears, sick with pain) was expressed in poetry and in many voices.
‘My son died laughing at some jest, I would I knew
What it were, and it might serve me at a time when jests are few.’
From September 1930 Kipling instigated and funded the nightly sounding of The Last Post at the Loos Memorial where his son’s name was inscribed.