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Our Boy Jack


E Williams
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"

“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.

“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind —
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

Not sure how much the movie covers of this, but Kipling used his connections to get his sickly, underage son into the army. Two consequences, other than life long guilt, were that he wrote the official history of the Irish Guards in the First War and that he was instrumental in setting up and promoting the Imperial [later Commonwealth] War Graves Commission. In fact, the inscription 'Known to God" on the tombs of unnamed soldiers is attributed to Kipling.

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"

“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.

“Has any one else had word of him?”

Not this tide.

For what is sunk will hardly swim,

Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”

None this tide,

Nor any tide,

Except he did not shame his kind —

Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,

This tide,

And every tide;

Because he was the son you bore,

And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

Not sure how much the movie covers of this, but Kipling used his connections to get his sickly, underage son into the army. Two consequences, other than life long guilt, were that he wrote the official history of the Irish Guards in the First War and that he was instrumental in setting up and promoting the Imperial [later Commonwealth] War Graves Commission. In fact, the inscription 'Known to God" on the tombs of unnamed soldiers is attributed to Kipling.

His guilt was shown in the movie very clearly. One can read where so many sons of upper class/aristocrats went to their deaths with family history and pressure from their ancestors acts of glory. It's always the young men, older men have had time to understand but they still go too.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think Kipling's son was not sickly, but very short sighted. Which is not really a " can't serve" disability. It was however a valid excuse for those with the lack of willingness to serve, to have a valid excuse. I'm sure his son was as eager to serve , as Kipling was to get him in. We should also remember that little was known of the futility and horrors to come when first signing up. They relied more on the Victorian sense of duty, it is only with hind sight and our loss of these lofty Victorian principles that we and Kipling judge his actions. It may have all turned out very differently if his son had been an officer in a different war, or had survived the First World War. No-one could have predicted the slaughter of European youth at a time when Sabres and cavalry horses were more common on the battlefield than machine guns.

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I watched it tonight, hadn't seen it. Good movie about true incidents.

I'm now watching the Lost Battalion, seen it a few times, I think it's pretty good too for factual incidents.

Was it the film that came out the other year with the wizard bloke playing John (Jack) Kiplin? I saw it on the TV two or three years ago.

I remember now, it was the Harry Potter actor who played Kiplin's son Jack. I quite enjoyed it.

Tony

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Strapper

I misspoke or misremembered on Jack's 'disability'. It was, I'm sure you're right, vision problems. And I agree, both on the importance of 'duty' to both fathers and sons and, of course, on how the outcome retroactively influenced their feelings about it all. People quote Kipling's "The White Man's Burden" derisively, as an apologia for colonialism but he, and generations of Europeans really believed it. They had a moral duty to help civilize the world, they felt and while many got rich from the empires - the two things are not necessarily incompatible - the young men dying of black water fever in Nigeria or of a jezzail bullet in the gut on the NWF of India weren't doing it for the money! In their own peculiar way, the Victorians were onto something: the same people who invented 'humane' prisons, free public museums and libraries and societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals!

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