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Ronan McGreevy

CWGC confirms that John Kipling is buried in the correct grave

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Martin Feledziak

I have been looking at North Staffs memorials

this has puzzled me for a while - what is a special "Kipling" memorial Cross ?

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Guest

Found this in an old thread Click

" The Kipling Memorial headstone is so called because the quotation from the Apocrypha (Ecclesiasticus 44, verse 13) "THEIR GLORY SHALL NOT BE BLOTTED OUT" which appears on the headstone was chosen by Rudyard Kipling. These headstones commemorate casualties whose graves in a particular cemetery were destroyed or who were known to be buried in a particular cemetery but the exact whereabouts within the cemetery were not recorded. "

Mike

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Martin Feledziak

Thanks Mike,

Perfect answer, The North Staffs lads were originally buried in Merris, some 20 miles from Souchez, so quite some distance.

BUT the graves were lost. Perhaps by artillery bombing and such.

So they are remembered at Caberet Rouge.

And rightly they should not be blotted out…

Martin

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Peter Bennett

With regards to the idea of obtaining DNA from the grave of Rudyard Kipling, I think you will find that he was cremated.

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brummell

A spanner in the works, to be sure.

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Guest

All a bit ghoulish, but, John Kipling had two sisters, if that were useful?

Mike

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ss002d6252

I think the last paragraph on the second of last page of the letter and the paragraph on the very last page are some what telling.

Craig

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laughton

I initially disagreed with the CWGC but I now have changed my opinion. This is nothing to do with what they said, rather that I have uncovered an error in their reports. This is not based upon the evidence that is available on the British soldiers but rather that of the sole Canadian that is on the same exhumation and reburial record.

If we refer to a period trench map, from which we know that there were MANY battles here through to the Canadians at Hill 70 in August 1917, we can see where the error occurred and that it was not uncovered. I expected to see that in the release from the MOD but I see it is not reported. They argue the body moved 6,000 yards west either in retreat or as "walking wounded". The exhumation of the Canadian shown on the same page as the "Reported Kipling Exhumation" in Plot 7 Row D Grave 17 is Pte. McPherson of the 2nd Battalion CEF who was KIA 18 August 1917, some 2 years later. This solves the riddle.

This is where I noticed problem and thought that it may be what the CWGC had uncovered and were not reporting. If you look at the map coordinates for where McPherson was exhumed (CWGC Burial Report) it is at Sheet 36C (same as 44A) Sector G25 and grids g.2.5 which is in the same general area where it is reported the "Kipling Remains" were found. However if we look at the Circumstance of Death file for Pte. McPherson it says he was exhumed from an isolated grave at a junction of trenches known as "Railway Alley", 2 miles north of Lens and at map coordinates 44A H25 c.45.13. Clearly the reported location of the exhumation does NOT match the CWGC records. This means that when they reported the exhumation as G25 they actually were in H25 - the 18th Labour Company used the wrong grid reference. This is the second case we have found where the 18th Labour Company made this error, the first being the case of Lt. McDonald at Hill 70 in August 1917 (download or review report on-line). He was also exhumed from this area and buried in the same cemetery.

This would not be the first time we have seen this mistake, in fact we have seen them use the wrong map reference not just sector reference. I will go and see if I can find some more Canadians with the G25 reference.

I have copied the Burial Records for Pte. McPherson that you can see in the links if you want to see where the burial location is detailed:

https://www.mediafire.com/convkey/4c78/crc5jnazc0od56k6g.jpg

https://www.mediafire.com/convkey/05ef/6c9v966i73so3b86g.jpg

https://www.mediafire.com/convkey/953b/x93v76h8uz3z5np6g.jpg

k29gljv334idiij6g.jpg

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Stebie9173

The H25 and G25 theory is very interesting - and supported by a least one piece of evidence - but by the admission of the letter of 18-4-2002 (Other candidates paragraphs) that brings Sec. Lt. Law firmly into the equation as it notes that his file says "Law was buried between Loos and Chalk Pit Wood". It is notable that CWGC raised but dismissed the possible error in grid reference.

The letter notes that the file of Kipling states that he may "have been buried in a wood near Loos" but notes this as the least definitive of the three Irish Guards candidates - Kipling, Clifford and Law.

As the letter notes, it appears that there was considerable doubt over the original acceptance of the grave as Kipling's. i.e. reasonable doubt. But that there is effectively insufficient evidence to reverse the decision. I hope I am never up in front of that Court of Law!

Steve.

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Stoppage Drill

The H25 and G25 theory is very interesting - and supported by a least one piece of evidence - but by the admission of the letter of 18-4-2002 (Other candidates paragraphs) that brings Sec. Lt. Law firmly into the equation as it notes that his file says "Law was buried between Loos and Chalk Pit Wood".

The letter notes that the file of Kipling states that he may "have been buried in a wood near Loos" but notes this as the least definitive of the three Irish Guards candidates - Kipling, Clifford and Law.

As the letter notes, it appears that there was considerable doubt over the original acceptance of the grave as Kipling's. i.e. reasonable doubt. But that there is effectively insufficient evidence to reverse the decision. I hope I am never up in front of that Court of Law!

Steve.

Generally, it is unwise to require the standard of proof required by a criminal court, i.e. beyond reasonable doubt, to matters which are not criminal.

Balance of probabilities is quite enough.

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Stebie9173

You are right. I was noting that they appeared to apply two different very different standards of proof / sets of balance of probabilities to decisions in the same case.

Steve.

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laughton

The H25 and G25 theory is very interesting - and supported by a least one piece of evidence

There are a number of pieces of evidence that take this from being a theory to being fact. Note the file on Pte, McPherson as it clearly shows that the 18th Labour Company wrote down the wrong map reference by using the G instead of the H. All the other points are correct. This is not an example taken from another sheet, it is the exact same sheet where the exhumation of the Kipling remains are reported. That makes this irrefutable in my opinion.

This is the same Labour Company that erred on the file for Lt. McDonald, a case that we presented to the CWGC several months ago. It is fortunate that we here in Canada have the "Circumstance of Death" files which in many cases give the grid reference for either the battlefield burial or the exhumation. In the case of Pte. McPherson it clearly states Map 44A (same as 36C) H25.c.45.13 at Railway Alley, 2 miles north of Lens.

nm7sw8ob1m34lyu6g.jpg

6c9v966i73so3b86g.jpg

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brummell

Thanks very much, Craig, for going to the trouble of drafting the request and sharing the reply. It is interesting to the see CWGC and MOD's thinking behind all this - or some of it, at least.

To my mind, laughton's evidence on the G25/H25 confusion is compelling.

- brummell

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stevem49

If DNA was ever used in any way, then I want a chap buried in Essex Farm under ' Private Nott's and Derby Regiment' checked. I can even supply family for them.

Am I correct in thinking that if the CWGC thinks the evidence is not 100% in their opinion, it does not go to the MOD?

SM

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ss002d6252

Thanks very much, Craig, for going to the trouble of drafting the request and sharing the reply. It is interesting to the see CWGC and MOD's thinking behind all this - or some of it, at least.

To my mind, laughton's evidence on the G25/H25 confusion is compelling.

- brummell

No problem - curiosity got the better of me. It does seem that the MOD couldn't find the earlier correspondence when they were looking at the case again so it would be interesting to know what was amongst the original correspondence (presumably long since destroyed).

Craig

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laughton

This is the exact text of what the CWGC gave us in Canada for research to support an UNKNOWN case. I assume this applies to all member countries:

The requirements of the CWGC are very specific. This is what they provided in February 2015:

  • Procedure: All new identification cases need to be assessed in the first instance by the Canadian Agency (CA) and submissions should go to their office directly. After an initial assessment, if the Agency feels that the case is compelling, they will then pass all the documentation to the Commemorations Team at the Commission's Head Office. Head Office will then review the case and inform the CA of their findings. The Canadian authorities will then decide whether or not any changes to the arrangements for commemoration are required and inform the Commission accordingly.
  • Guideline Criteria for Submission: Cases need to present clear and convincing evidence to prove the identity of a casualty and must not be based on assumption or speculation. The Commission's Commemoration Team will also consider whether the findings of a better informed contemporary investigation are being revisited and if there is any new evidence to consider. By way of example, it is unlikely that the Commission would support a revision of the arrangements for the commemoration where it is apparent that no new evidence is being presented and, a better informed previous decision is being revisited some 100 years later.

Our complete process is detailed here:

http://cefresearch.ca/wiki/index.php/The_Unknown#Identified_Unknown

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Auimfo

Fascinating topic. So can we just clarify the facts a little.

Based on the clear error in the Canadian, McPherson's records, the G25 map reference for Kipling is most probably also incorrect and should have been H25. Therefore it is possible that the remains recovered from this location are those of 2nd Lt Kipling because it is approximately where he was likely killed.

HOWEVER......this also then brings into play 2nd Lt Law who was initially dismissed as a candidate but now must be re-considered because the description of his battlefield grave places it in about the same location.

Personally, I don't think there's enough certainty to be positive about an identification. The remains were either found too far away to make sense or if now placed in the correct location, could possibly be another equally likely contender.

Cheers,

Tim L.

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Stebie9173

That is how I would interpret the situation as well Tim.

Steve.

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laughton

Based on the response from the MOD and what is reported in Holt's book (which I do not have) it is my understanding that Lt. Kipling and Lt. Law were in the 2nd Coy (I assume they meant Battalion) and that Lt. Law was the companies 1st Officer and fell first. Lt. Clifford and Lt. Kipling are reported to have pushed on until they were near the buildings at Puits 14 Bis, at which time both were hit by MG fire. The only other information in the account refers to Bowe's report that he saw Kipling limping out of Chalk Pit Wood holding a field dressing to his mouth which appeared badly shattered.

As to whether it was Clifford or Law, the MOD response says that the German's reported Clifford was buried near St. Auguste and that Law was buried between Loos and Chalk Pit Wood. The secondary reference that I have on the Holt's report is that Law was shot in the head and later died in hospital. If that is correct then that would take him away from the area where the remains were found. Does anyone have the war diary and Holt's book so those statements can be confirmed?

As for Clifford the reports filed by the German's do support what is in the MOD report. I extracted the information from the ICRC Records and you can view all five (5) pages at this link (Lt. Clifford files ICRC). If I have the correct St. Auguste, that is well to the southeast behind German Lines on Map 51a NW3 Sector H2. Here is the single front page of that set:

1rca7vvsytftrur6g.jpg

If Lt. Law was shot in the head and later died in hospital, that should be in the records. I assume that they may have meant that he died at a Casualty Clearing Station or Field Ambulance? I don't have access to the British records so I can not check. If he was Canadian we could check the war diaries of those units. Are there any files in the UK that confirm he died in hospital?

A particular point I find interesting in the MOD document of 18 April 2002 is in Location of the Body on page 2: (I assume **** = CWGC and ******'s = Holts)

The second argument put forward by the **** is that ********'s assumption that G25 actually meant H25 is unsupported. The essence of this argument is that it is unlikely for one body to have the wrong grid reference. It is more likely that, if the Graves Registration Unit, or someone further down the line, had wrongly recorded, or transcribed the grid reference in 1919, that the other bodies found in that area on that day would also have the wrong grid reference. In this I agree with the ****.

At the minimum now the Ministry of Defense has to go "whoops" now we have that evidence as presented by the Canadians' and in particular in the case of Private McPherson of the 2nd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force. With that information now in hand, the MOD would have to revisit their report of 18 April 2002 and consider that if they were clearly wrong on that point, where else is the analysis wrong?

If we now look at the Trench Map where the remains really were at 44A (or 36C) H25 c.6.8 then it shows there were on the NORTH side of Chalk Pit Woods. The MOD report states that it is important to their case that the 2nd Battalion approached the woods from the north, not the west in the direction of G25. If that is correct, then it is reasonable that when the Lieutenant (who was probably Kipling if all other facts are true) stumbled out of the woods wounded, that he did so in the same direction that he entered. That would place him clearly in the location shown on the trench map below where the two green lines intersect.

nnlay943gzt4j386g.jpg

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ss002d6252

The Soldiers Effects records record T P Law as 'Died of Wounds',

Craig

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ss002d6252

If we now look at the Trench Map where the remains really were at 44A (or 36C) H25 c.6.8 then it shows there were on the NORTH side of Chalk Pit Woods. The MOD report states that it is important to their case that the 2nd Battalion approached the woods from the north, not the west in the direction of G25. If that is correct, then it is reasonable that when the Lieutenant (who was probably Kipling if all other facts are true) stumbled out of the woods wounded, that he did so in the same direction that he entered. That would place him clearly in the location shown on the trench map below where the two green lines intersect.

An action report in the guards division HQ diary states that the 2nd Irish Guards advanced at 4p.m. down the slopes of the valley, meeting with little opposition and gained the lower edge of the Wood and Chalk Pit with few casualties. They are later recorded as having fallen back to the road and western edge of the wood.

Craig

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brummell

'Western edge' and the like is always a little problematic when the given feature is aligned south west/north east! Is it the north side or the west side? It seems more likely to me that IG survivors would have gone north rather than west, given the situation and the trenches (such as we can tell); but then, I wasn't there.

I agree with laughton; if Clifton was buried by the Germans where they say, and if Law died of wounds at a dressing station back towards Loos, and if Kipling was indeed last seen heading north out of Chalk Pit Wood, then it seems likely that the remains found at that grid were his. It is interesting that, if one does come to that conclusion, it is based on different evidence to the MoD.

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ss002d6252

'Western edge' and the like is always a little problematic when the given feature is aligned south west/north east! Is it the north side or the west side? It seems more likely to me that IG survivors would have gone north rather than west, given the situation and the trenches (such as we can tell); but then, I wasn't there.

I agree with laughton; if Clifton was buried by the Germans where they say, and if Law died of wounds at a dressing station back towards Loos, and if Kipling was indeed last seen heading north out of Chalk Pit Wood, then it seems likely that the remains found at that grid were his. It is interesting that, if one does come to that conclusion, it is based on different evidence to the MoD.

The whole situation is one confused mess, in every aspect.

Craig

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Ghazala

This was in The Times today... The last paragraph quoting Major Holt I agree with.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission said that an investigation had shown that the grave bearing John Kipling’s name is his final resting place

When Rudyard Kipling’s only son was killed during the First World War, his death inspired one of his father’s most moving poems and — nearly a century later — a powerful drama starring Daniel Radcliffe.

It also led to a long-running controversy after it was claimed that the grave that bears John Kipling’s name is not his at all but that of another officer.

Now the mystery has been settled after the Commonwealth War Graves Commission said that an investigation had shown that the grave was his final resting place.

John Kipling was not meant to go to war. Severely short-sighted, he was classified as unfit for military service yet thanks to his father’s efforts he was posted to France on his 18th birthday.

Six weeks later, in the Battle of Loos on September 27, 1915, he was reported missing. His father, on learning the news, was said to have cried “a curse like the cry of a dying man”.

The subsequent failure to locate his son’s remains would haunt Rudyard Kipling for the rest of his life.

“Have you news of my boy Jack?” he wrote in his much-loved poem My Boy Jack. “When d’you think that he’ll come back?” Only in 1919 did he accept that he was dead.

In 1992 the commission announced that research had established that a grave at St Mary’s ADS (Advanced Dressing Station) Cemetery near Loos was that of Lieutenant John Kipling of the Irish Guards.

However, two military historians who wrote a biography of John Kipling said they uncovered evidence that suggested that the grave was not his. Tonie and Valmai Holt argued that the commission’s 1992 decision was based on mistaken assumptions. They suggested that the grave could be that of another officer, Arthur Jacob, a lieutenant in the London Irish regiment.

They said Kipling had been promoted from second lieutenant to full lieutenant in the field, but the promotion had not been made official, and so he was highly unlikely to have been wearing the insignia of a full lieutenant. The grave was that of a full lieutenant.

A spokesman for the commission said that it had carried out a review of the matter, which concluded that there was “clear and compelling evidence” that the body buried there was that of John Kipling.

Major Holt said he did not believe that the review had removed the doubts, adding that the question could not be settled without opening up the grave to obtain DNA evidence, which would be an investigation too far.

“Leave it alone,” he said. “Let whoever it is rest in peace.”

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