🧙 The Tolkien Forum 🧝

Welcome to our forum! Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox! Plus you won't see ads ;)

Tolkien in the War

Talarion

They're thieves!
Joined
Dec 29, 2001
Messages
43
Reaction score
0
Location
East Farthing
From People Magazine 1/28/02 Pg. 118
Tolkien went off to France in World War I but was shipped home with typhus-like "trench fever."
Sorry I do not know the exact date or anything but this is all I got.
 
R

ReadWryt

Guest
Let's see how I do before I have finished my first cup of coffee...

Tolkien enlisted as a leutenant in the Lancashire Fusileers and was sent to France early on in his career. After a short time there he was sent to the front, which at that time was the mud and body filled trennches of Somme, where he witnessed the British Army loose tens of thousands of troops in a single day. He contracted medical problems in the humid and filthy battlefield which plagued him the rest of his life, and his service ended well otherwise so that when he returned to England he continued his education a greatly changed man.

That's the most I know on the subject, there may be more but I am neither certain, nor does he mention much of it in his letters...
 

Aldanil

mad about mallorn
Joined
Dec 27, 2001
Messages
281
Reaction score
1
Location
Beleg Iant in Va Usa
John Ronald's war service

For the research-minded Rangerdave:

ReadWryt's synopsis gets it right, but rather briefly; for more detailed information on this period, along with almost anything else about JRRT's life, the best source I know of is Humphrey Carpenter's definitive Tolkien: A biography, published in 1976, which devotes several chapters to the War and its aftermath. It was while recuperating from trench fever in a convalescent hospital in England that our author penned the first of the tales which later became The Silmarillion: "The Fall of Gondolin".
 
Last edited:

Adiemus

Registered User
Joined
Aug 27, 2005
Messages
14
Reaction score
0
Location
Krakow, Poland
I decided to refresh this old thread... because I've just finished "Tolkien and the Great War. The Threshold to Middle-earth" by John Garth (HarperCollins Publishers, 2003). An amazing book - a lot of facts from a period between 1910 and 1920. And a lot of qutated letters between TCBS members, their poetry, diaries... And most important - Garth tries to explain, how war experience influenced shaping of early Middle-earth.

Everyone interested in the thread's subject must read this book.
 

Alcuin

Registered User
Joined
Mar 9, 2005
Messages
978
Reaction score
657
Location
Consigned to the salt mines of Núrnen…
Most British units in World War I, “The Great War,” were raised locally: that is, if you were from Oxford, you served in an Oxfordshire unit. The same was true of French, German, and American units. The upside to this practice, which has its roots in deepest antiquity, is that you generally know all the people with whom you serve. The downside is that a community can lose its entire contingent of young men, a whole generation of them.

For instance, one of my ancestors who served in the American Civil War enlisted in 1861 in an infantry unit with over 1,000 other young men from his community. Before the end of the war, another 440 young men from that community enlisted in the unit. At the end of the war four years later, he was one of only 12 men who returned home. Now, not all of them were killed: some were injured and unable to return to duty, and some deserted. But this gives you an idea of the kinds of casualty rates you can experience under such a system. The town from which the unit was raised, which was thriving before the war, never recovered: today, only 938 people live there, fewer than the number of young men from the community who enlisted at the beginning of the war.

As I understand matters, Tolkien lost all but 4 of his friends in World War I. The rest were killed. That might explain some of the strong attachment to his friends that he later showed in life.
 

Eledhwen

Cumbrian
Joined
May 11, 2002
Messages
3,149
Reaction score
45
Location
Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire, England, UK
Here's some horse's mouth stuff.

The Lancashire Fusiliers, like most British regiments in the war, sent the majority of its battalions to the Western Front. During the Battle of the Somme there were eleven battalions of the regiment that saw action in the campaign including three Pals battalions (The Salford Pals) and three Bantam battalions. J.R.R Tolkien served in this regiment from 1915 until contracting "trench fever" during the Battle of the Somme in October 1916.

Tolkien served from July 21 to October 27 1916 as the battalion signalling officer for the 11th Btn. The 11th (Service) Battalion was Formed at Codford in October 1914 and attached to 74th Brigade, 25th Division. The batallion Landed at Boulogne 25 September 1915 and was disbanded in France on 12 August 1918.

If I find out more, I'll post it. My father and grandfather both served in the LFs, and my grandfather fought at the Somme. The regiment was later merged with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (my brother's regiment). The Lancashire Fusiliers signature tune was The British Grenadier. Tolkien would have heard that tune practically every parade day, and almost certainly knew the main verses off by heart (as do I).

(Note: I always heard the 'tow row row' as G,fgA,gaB,abC)
 

Firawyn

Verbatim et litteratim.
Joined
Mar 18, 2003
Messages
2,319
Reaction score
27
Location
Pennsylvania
You know I think you like digging up old threads Eled. That's the second or third thread today I've found that hasn't been posted in for a year or so that you've brought up! :D:p
 

Thread suggestions

Top