‘One mustn’t let one’s friends’ and neighbours’ sons be killed in order to save us and our son. There is no chance John will survive unless he is so maimed or wounded as to be unable to fight. We know it and he does. We all know it but we must give and do what we can and live on the shadow of a hope that our boy will be the one to escape.’John’s eyesight was so bad that he was unfit for military service and a danger to himself and the men under his command. John only obtained a commission because his father pulled strings with Lord Roberts to by-pass the medical boards which had repeatedly rejected John. One does not know how much Rudyard’s great grief was due to a sense that he was responsible for John’s fate.
“He (Mr Rudyard Kipling) then proceeded to say how important it was that the King should visit the grave-yards in France and Flanders. Mr Kipling is in touch with republican propaganda and knows what capital is made out of this omission in unfortunately criticising the King, especially in Australia and South Africa, but generally throughout the Dominions and Crown Colonies. I mentioned this to the King.”This I was shown by the Royal Archives, and it is reproduced by permission of H.M. The Queen.
“Never before in history have a people dedicated and maintained individual memorials to their fallen and in the course of my Pilgrimage, I have many times asked myself whether there can be a more total advocate of peace upon earth through the years to come, than this massed multitude of silent witnesses to the desolation of War.”Wonderful language but totally wrong as anyone who has been to Arlington or Gettysburg or other American Civil War cemeteries would have known. Kipling was married to an American and had lived in the United States at a time when many Civil War memorials were being erected and had a keen sense of history. I wondered whether he had in fact written this speech but I think the evidence is overwhelming. I suspect that Lord Stamfordham or someone else altered Kipling’s text and Kipling did not comment. Alternatively, perhaps Kipling made a mistake. I have found no record that he visited Arlington, so perhaps he just did not know.