John Kipling was the son of 19th and 20th Century writer Rudyard Kipling.

It is clear that Rudyard's children meant a lot to him. A lot of his works were originally written to entertain them, such as the classic "Jungle Book", and the famous poem "If", which was originally written for John himself.
Also, some the characters in his most famous works were actually based on his children, for instance, in "Kim", the character "Una" is based on one of his daughters, and "Dan" is based on John.

John travelled extensively while he was young, living with his father in South Africa, Rhodesia, America and the United Kingdom. It was during one of these trips, to New York in 1899, that all the Kipling children became ill, with Josephine Kipling dying of pneumonia and Rudyard almost following her. After losing Josephine, Rudyard was distraught with grief, as shown in his 1904 book "They", about a father grieving over a dead child. After this, John and Rudyard became even closer, and shared a very close father-son relationship.

At the outbreak of World War I, John rushed to join up in Kitchener's "New Army", despite being only 16. However, due to his awful sight, he was turned away. Rudyard, determined to make his son's dream of fighting for his country come true, used all of his influence, which was considerable, to secure his son a commission in the 2nd Bn. Irish Guards.

John was soon off to France. However, six weeks later, at the Battle of Loos, John went missing, presumed dead. His parents refused to acknowledge their son's death until after the war, when Rudyard threw himself into the task of finding his son's grave. He sought out former members of John's battalion to try and piece together John's last movements, but were unable get any definitive account of events. Witnesses reported having seen John crying with pain from a neck wound, but no body had been found, and Rudyard had to accept the shelling was so intense that his son may have been obliterated, unrecongnisable even to him. Rudyard then began working for the (then) Imperial War Graves Commission, in the process creating the infamous "Known Unto God" epitaph, which is used to mark the grave of any unidentified soldier.
It was during this period that Rudyard also composed the poem My Boy Jack, describing his anguish and the ongoing hunt for his son's corpse.

Then, after 83 years of research, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) erected this headstone:

Lieutenant John Kipling
2nd Bn. Irish Guards
27th September 1915
Age 18

On Plot VII. Row D. Grave No 2, St. Mary's Advanced Dressing Station cemetery, Haisnes.
Apparently, the continued efforts of the CWGC had located John's body 6000 yards from where he was thought to have been fighting.
However, a new book, "My Boy Jack?", refutes this claims, as John was unaware of his promotion to Lieutenant, and would have been wearing 2nd Lieutenant pips, whereas the body found was wearing a Lieutenant's uniform. In fact, two days before his death, John wrote to his father and signed the letter as a 2nd Lieutenant.

With the wonders of DNA identification, I think it likely that John will be found one day, and laid to rest in a properly marked grave. However, in some ways, I think it is more fitting for this young man to reside under the epitaph his father created for him, and many others like him:

Known unto God

Factual Sources:
The Kipling Society: <>
Aftermath Newsclips: <>
"My Boy Jack?", Tonie and Valmai Holt, ISBN:0850528593

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