Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Remembering …

This year many services and commemorations have been held for times in the Great War, and for battles of the Second World War.

"Kipling's at War" - the poster explaining the exhibition

The grounds, the pond with Batemans in the background
Batemans, Rudyard Kipling’s, home had an exhibition marking the outbreak of WW1 in July 1914, during which Kipling’s beloved son was killed … Rudyard had been anxious, for the pride of the family, John would serve, despite being rejected for medical (eyesight) reasons.

If you would like to expand you can
read of John's 'exuberance' on being

Kipling lobbied governmental and military authorities to let John serve … eventually in 1915 he was commissioned … then sent into battle in a reinforcement contingent – two days later he was dead.

Notes of John's demise

Some poignant letters and notes were on display … as well as some pertinent records on the Kiplings' lives at Batemans.

The records of one of John’s friends, Rupert Grayson, who served with him in the Irish Guards were on display too – giving a feeling of the exuberance of youth … yet we know the sad truth.

Notes from Rupert Grayson, a friend
of John's in the Irish Guards

The shell that wounded Rupert Grayson was the one that killed John Kipling.  Rudyard Kipling was keen to maintain contact with the young people who knew his beloved son, especially Rupert.  I cannot see what happened to Grayson, but have put Lt Col A R Rawlinson’s link here … where the above details are mentioned.

The First World War was the catalyst for a great deal of literary output.  For the first time writers challenged the accepted sentimental view of war, and many of those who served did not live to see their works published.

Some quotes set out here
Some we know today were written early in the 1900s, others during the War and others many years afterwards, were powerful and usually disillusioned.  For example: Rupert Brooke; Wilfred Owen; Siegfried Sassoon; Ford Madox Ford; Robert Graves; and Hemingway … to name a few.

John’s note written in the dreaded expectation of not returning – received by so many families: 

“Well so long old dears. Dear Love, John.”

An old cyprus in the gardens at Batemans

Rudyard felt enormous pain … the Kiplings kept John’s bedroom as it was – and we can see it like that to this day: a young man’s room … with sports gear, some toys lingering … 

Kipling included in his Epitaph of the War (1914-1918); the Common Form quote: If any question why we died/ Tell them, because our fathers lied”

A booklet written by Kipling
regarding the Commission
and its ideals

After the War and partly in response to John’s death, Kipling joined Sir Fabian Ware’s Imperial War Graves Commission (now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission), the group responsible for the garden-like British war graves that can be found to this day where troops of the British Empire lie buried.

His most significant contribution to the project was his selection of the biblical phrase “Their Name Liveth for Everymore” (Eccliasticus 44.14, KJV) found on the Stones of Remembrance in larger war cemeteries and his suggestion of the phrase “Known unto God” for the gravestones of unidentified servicemen.  He chose the inscription “The Glorious Dead” on the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London.

Batemans from the west side

May we remember with love and affection all who have died helping and saving their country from evils thankfully unknown.

In war, in trouble spots, there are no unwounded people – as we wear Remembrance Day poppies, let us unite against war and bring the world closer with peace and harmony … 

... let the butterfly effect take flight: helping others, bearing no acrimony, no misery, no selfishness, no uncertainty in times of strife, radiate out similar thoughts to make this wonderful world a better place.

Poppies, daisies and cornflowers in Remembrance
Let us remember all who have suffered, are suffering, will suffer … and let us share what we can with others.

Different countries remember at other times ... this is for all who remember.

Please have a look here for more information on Rudyard Kipling's home and also John's bedroom ... as it was kept until the Kiplings had died:

Putting the House to bed - part 2: this shows John's bedroom

This post by Mike from the blog "A Bit About Britain" - is so evocative ... I love the sculpture, the artistic form ... and I just needed to remember it - so "Eleven-O-One" is linked here ... reference:

      the 11th hour 
               of the 11th day
                      of the 11th month

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


Suzanne Furness said...

'No family untouched'so true. We should not forget.

Nilanjana Bose said...

In war, in trouble spots, there are no unwounded people - that is so true.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls...

As always, thought-provoking and informative.

Best always.

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Wonderful post, Hilary, great photos. Bateman's is a lovely place, Kipling was a fascinating, extraordinary, man and the story of 'My Son, Jack' one of the most evocative of the period. John Kipling was killed at the Battle of Loos, 100 years ago this year (September) and his father and mother never found his body. I've never been 100% convinced about the expression 'glorious dead', though. Many thanks for the link to my blog - though it's Mike, not John. All the best.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Suzanne - yes, sadly no family was left untouched in either of the world wars. We definitely must not forget.

@ Nila - and again ... no unwounded people - also so true ... and it is shown in all its horror now. Thanks for a very evocative comment ...

@ Mike - apologies re the John - must have been thinking of John Kipling - corrected now!

Thanks too for adding to the post - I couldn't remotely put all the information in here - so have you give the details helps hugely. I've never thought too much about the words ... but in recent years some of them have impacted more. Glorious Dead - are perhaps an odd phrasing ... but the powers that be 100 years ago or so agreed them.

I hope many will link over to your blog to see sculpture - it's extraordinary and I'm glad I've seen it ... even if only in photo form.

Thanks so much for coming over - it's good to have your thoughts at this time ... Hilary

Patsy said...

I didn't know about Kipling's son. Such a sad story - and one of so many.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sad that after trying so hard to get him into the service, he lost his life so quickly.

Out on the prairie said...

A very nice post. I thought of us as kids fighting as our fathers did at play, disregarding a neighbors feelings with her number on her arm. When I joined and went to SE Asia, it lost its charm entirely and made me a future war protester. Today is Veterans Day, I wish it were to celebrate peace in our world.Everyone on my mothers side were career soldiers up to my generation.I have encouraged a few to give it a try through the years.

Jo said...

If only it were possible to spread peace. ISIS worry me to death.

I would think Kipling kicked himself after his efforts to get his son into the war. I like the idea of Why we died, our father's lied. So true in those days. War was supposed to be glorious.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Patsy - I probably wouldn't have known about Kipling's son except for my visits to Batemans ... this exhibition was incredible to see.

@ Alex - yes I know I imagine Kipling was mortified - especially when John wanted to go into the Navy at first and was rejected.

@ Steve - thanks we all used to play with guns as kids - oh poor woman with her number on show. I can understand you wanting to be a war protester ... especially now. I know Veterans' Day is today in the States - I'm glad you remember when we do too. We don't have any career soldiers .. though everyone served and some died, as is the way in war.

@ Jo - if only it were possible to spread peace - seems incredible that a few can bully us ... but it occurs in all walks of life, as well as war.

I'm sure Kipling was desperate he'd send his son into battle ... but some of the poems, stories and phrases that are produced from those times give us a great deal of food for thought. You've answered Mike's comment re Glorious Dead ... in those days War was supposed to be glorious.

Thanks for commenting on this our Remembrance Day - Hilary

Gattina said...

Thanks to you I visited this place, remember ? and the same day the pier in Eastbourne caught fire. I think it's sad that we celebrate the end of wars of 100 or 70 years ago, instead of stopping the once which are going on right now and which will create new veterans !

Karen Walker said...

What a sad sad story. How can war not be sad? Thanks for this today, Hilary

Julie Flanders said...

Reading John's "So long" gave me chills. I've read about Kipling before - how he lobbied for his son to serve only to have him killed in the war. So tragic and still so touching.

Manzanita said...

I enjoyed your post.
War makes me sad especial a story about a father sacrificing a son to salve his own ego.
War is hell and I've lived through too many of them.

Crystal Collier said...

It is humbling to me how many good people we have lost to war--all that potential, all the bright stars, some of the best.

Arlee Bird said...

Exhibits like you describe are always very moving to me. Such a tragedy is war though such an inspiration as well. Maybe one day we can dispense with war and violent disagreement. It's a nice dream, but doubtful in our current world.

Arlee Bird
Tossing It Out

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

What a fanatastic Rememberance Day post Hilary! For some reason, WW1 is such a poignant war. I never realised that Kipling's son died in it. This post a fitting tribute on such an important day!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Gattina - yes, I remember our visit and then the pier fire we saw on our back into Eastbourne. These aren't acts of celebration, but are rather Services of Remembrance ... but I agree somehow we need to stop the people who want to spoil our relatively peaceful worlds.

@ Karen - exactly any war is just terrible.

@ Julie - it was a very poignant note for a 17 year old + 2 days as he was, isn't it .. it does chill one's thoughts. As you say so tragic that he did not live ...

@ Manzanita - in those days ... if you didn't serve it wasn't right - so Kipling couldn't be seen by 'anyone' not to let his son go to war - even though he'd been rejected on medical grounds. In Europe certainly we have had our fair share of wars throughout the centuries and managed to export them elsewhere - sadly, so sadly.

@ Crystal - it's humbling that in times of war - we get such wonderful writing, powerful poems and art giving us 'conflict and creation in their works' ... and we lose many - desperate, and it continues on today.

@ Lee - yes I was very moved by it and went through specially for it. Sadly there's a huge amount of loss ... but then as you say we get inspiration and creative talent rising up through from the morass. I would hope one day we can live in peace and harmony - relative anyway ...

@ Judy - thank you. I really know so little about either War - and have never asked ... so it is now as I write the odd blog post - that I pick up snippets of information and can put some facts and thoughts into my brain. I knew little about the Kipling family or their way of life about 20 miles from here ... so it was interesting to write the post - just desperate that their son died so young.

Thanks Judy - I appreciate the thought for today.

Thanks everyone - so pleased you've been able to glean a little more about Kiplings life, as too the effect WW1 had on them ... Hilary

MunirGhiasuddin said...

Here in the USA a lot of blogger friends are writing beautiful tributes to veterans. Thanks for joining with a terrific historic post. You have so much material for all of us to learn. Although I lived in England only for two years I can relate because some of the names I have read are to be found in Indian history as well.

Christine Rains said...

Beautiful post. Lest we forget.

Rhodesia said...

Today, 11/11/ is always a very important day in France. It is a public holiday and most people attend a church service followed by a ceremony at the village memorial. I don't think there is a village in France without a memorial. This is quite often followed by a luncheon as well. We have just returned from out local one, it has been a long day starting at 10h30 and arriving home at 17h00. The French will never forget. Diane

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Bittersweet that he kept up with some of the other young men who'd served with his son.

A Cuban In London said...

Beautiful post. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

M Pax said...

War is a grave tragedy. It should never be entered lightly. The current veterans suffer. I hate to see it.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I didn't think I could feel more deeply today than I already did, but your post proved me wrong. I'm so glad I stopped by today.

Paula said...

Very nice post for today!! Thank you Hilary!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Munir - I 've seen quite a few Veterans' Day posts too. Yes - your Indian history in connection with the UK is entwined with ours ... and many Indians fought in the First World War.

@ Christine - yes we need to remember

@ Diane - Remember and thought about you in your village with its traditions ... I hadn't realised it is a public holiday in France though: that reflects France's involvement in those wars. Interesting - thanks ..

@ Diane - yes very bittersweet ... and it was good reading that he kept up with some of John's friends.

@ ACIL - thank you

@ Mary - War is a tragedy ... and so many suffer from it directly and indirectly ...

@ Susan - many thanks - I'm pleased it gave you something else to think about re Armistice Day ...

@ Paula - thanks for coming by

Thank you - it's good that we remember our Service Men, voluntary services, support groups and those who died, those who are left behind ... so we remember them - Hilary

Deborah Barker said...

A wonderful and inspiring post Hilary. I did not realise that Kipling's son had died so soon after going to war, nor that his father had lobbied for his acceptance.My great Uncle Donald was killed in battle Nov 17th 1917 leaving his wife and young son. I always found that story so poignant, just one of so many.
Visited the war graves in Northern France a few years ago and we were all overcome with emotion, my then 17 year old son, going off on his own to ponder among the graves.
Most of us remember, in some shape or form and most of us have learnt from that war. Let's hope one day, all will have the same thought, peace. X

Elise Fallson said...

I wonder if the human species can evolve to the point that we no longer need to go to war to win the argument. A very touching post, my father is a veteran and so was his brother a very long time ago, some of the scars they bring back never heal.

Jeffrey Scott said...

I can only imagine how horrible a feeling that might have been to lobby for your son to enter the war, only to have him die two days later. it's so sad. It will be a much better day when man learns war no more.

beste barki said...

Hilary, with all the historical and fictional account of the First World War, for me, Ken Follett's 'The Fall of Giants' in his The Century Trilogy drove in the extent of the grief stricken life in the trenches.

Beate said...

Thank you for always sharing such amazing stories with us and help us learn something! I love this: "Let us remember all who have suffered, are suffering, will suffer … and let us share what we can with others." This is beautiful and I agree with all my heart! I hope there won't be any wars anymore in the future, I hope we will all learn that kindness is the key. But in the meantime we need to take care of one another, especially of everyone who suffers, has suffered or will suffer.
Lots of hugs to you, Hilary. Have an amazing rest of the week!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

How ironic that Rudyard pushed so hard for his son to serve, only to have him so quickly killed in the war. I'll bet he was tortured by that until his own death.

The best quote about war I know came from a Vietnam veteran, who said, "The lesson of war is No. More. War." Too bad we haven't learned it yet.

A wonderful post, Hilary. Thank you.

klahanie said...

Hi Hilary,

I shall leave but a brief response to your poignant post. We shall never forget those who served to save our freedom and never forget those who have lost their lives in ongoing conflicts.

In peace and hope,


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Deborah - good to see you. I hadn't realised about Kipling's son, nor about their family life at Batemans - the exhibition was very informative. So many young men killed in that early war ... and your Uncle Donald - no wonder you found his loss so poignant.

I'd like to visit the War Graves now ... and your story really does bring it to life what it means to families. We do remember the aspects of terrible tragedy and War that we comprehend ... we also learn, but perhaps especially as the years go by and we hear more stories and get an idea of the bigger picture - even though death and injury are tiny by comparison .... but so huge for each family unit.

@ Elise - I would hope one day we'll realise ... but at the moment we are in troubling times. I can understand your father and uncle having those scars ... my father certainly did. So so sad.

@ Jeffrey - yes, the story is an interesting one - you don't want your son or your family to be foregoing their duty - even though he'd been rejected medically ... and then death to come to so quickly. I agree we need to eliminate war somehow ...

@ Beste - I haven't read any war histories .. except in excerpts around any posts I might be writing. I must look out for the trilogy ... at some future date. I did read Sebastien Faulks "Birdsong" ... which was made into a film, and then War Horse, also made into a film ... and actually a few other documentary type films. All evocative ... I've read a few others too ... of real life.

@ Beate - thanks you express yourself so well in our English language. We do need to remember more often that we do... and by doing so inspire others. I hope we learn that kindness spreads more kindness around ... and as we both know - look after others who are less fortunate than ourselves. Thanks for your hugs!

@ Susan - yes isn't it ironic and so so sad. I'm sure his parents struggled to come to terms with John's death - as expressed by leaving his room as it was when he went off to war.

Yes -that quote is very poignant ... "The Lesson of War is No. More. War" .. if only we would learn the lesson. Thanks for sharing this with us here ...

@ Gary - good to see you ... and we should never forget all who helped us keep our freedoms in times of dire strife.

I agree - in peace and in hope.

Thanks everyone - it's lovely having your comments and showing those extra reflective notes about the times of war throughout the world. As many of you point out - we are so grateful - Hilary

Cathrina Constantine said...

War is devastating!!! We're still experiencing it. Why can't human beings live in peace?

Honor our Veterans!!!! For they gave all!!!

Kittie Howard said...

Thank you for this beautiful post. We can never forget! I also did't know about Kipling's son. So very sad. As was a situation where a Marine general, Chesty Puller, did the opposite and tried to prevent son Louis from joining the Marines and going to Vietnam because he didn't think Louis had combat capabilities. But Louis persisted, lost his legs in Vietnam, returned home, became an alcoholic, sobered up, wrote books about it (winning a Pulitzer Prize), returned to booze, his wife divorced him, more booze, then committed suicide.

I don't think any war really ends.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I was not familiar with this story. What a sad outcome. And John's last message ... chilling.

Annalisa Crawford said...

People seemed so desperate to prove loyalty to their country, they really didn't consider they might not live to return home. So very sad when you hear the individual stories.

Vallypee said...

There is no glory in war; only pain, grief and loss. I was touched by the Common Form quote because I feel it is still very apt today.

DMS said...

What a wonderful post and tribute to those who have served their country. Thanks for sharing this with us and making us stop, think, and remember.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Cathrina - war/terrorism is just awful and we are so sadly still experiencing it - and we need to honour all who served, are serving and who have suffered.

@ Kittie - it is good to see you and to read the story about Chesty Puller - such atrocities must damage us in ways we can't understand ... but we need to be aware of stories like Chesty's ... such a sad and difficult life.

As you say ... it seems that war doesn't really end.

@ Dianne - John's story is one that rings home - and I'm sure there were lots and lots of other families in similar situations. Yes I agree - his final message to be sent in the event of his death (which it was) - is today chilling ... one wonders what he might have become to be able to write so succinctly at 17, or just 18 as he had been for two days when he was killed.

@ Annalisa - sadly they had little choice ... as my next post will show. One wonders how the army advised those so young men to write that note - I believe they had to. Desperate, as you say, when we read their personal stories.

@ Val - there is definitely no glory in war ... and so much suffering. Isn't that Common Form quote so relevant still today ...

@ Jess - thank you for appreciating and understanding the post ... stop, think and remember ...

Thank you so much for coming by and leaving comments - we need to REMEMBER ... Hilary