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As the World War I begins, 17-year-old Jack Kipling, the only son of the famous English writer and poet Rudyard Kipling, declares his intention to join the Royal Navy to fight against the Germans. The elder Kipling, who encourages him in his ambition, arranges several appointments for him to enlist in both the Army and Navy. However, Jack's poor eyesight prevents him from passing the medical examinations, both he and his father are devastated. However, Rudyard uses his influence with the military establishment to eventually secure Jack an officer's commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Irish Guards. Both Jack's mother Carrie, and sister Elsie, disapprove of this post, as they do not wish for him to be deployed to the front line.
Jack, who proves to be a popular officer with his troops, undergoes military training and travels to France within six months. On his 18th birthday, Jack receives orders to lead his platoon into action on the following morning. However, during this attack in the Battle of Loos, Jack is posted missing in action and the Kipling family is informed by telegram.
Over the next three years, Jack's parents track down surviving members from Jack's platoon and interview them. The play continues to a very moving and powerful ending.