John Ronald Reuel Tolkien

Discussion in 'World War 1' started by liverpool annie, Aug 26, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE 3 January 1892 – 2 September 1973 was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.

    Tolkien volunteered for military service in WW1 and was commissioned in the British Army as a Second Lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers. He trained with the 13th (Reserve) Battalion on Cannock Chase, Staffordshire, for eleven months. He was then transferred to the 11th (Service) Battalion with the British Expeditionary Force, arriving in France on 4 June 1916. He later wrote:
    Junior officers were being killed off, a dozen a minute. Parting from my wife then ... it was like a death

    Tolkien served as a signals officer at the Somme, participating in the Battle of Thiepval Ridge and the subsequent assault on the Schwaben Redoubt. On 27 October 1916 he came down with trench fever, a disease carried by the lice which were common in no man's land. According to the memoirs of the Reverend Mervyn S. Evers, Anglican chaplain to the Lancashire Fusilliers:
    On one occasion I spent the night with the Brigade Machine Gun Officer and the Signals Officer in one of the captured German dugouts ... We dossed down for the night in the hopes of getting some sleep, but it was not to be. We no sooner lay down than hordes of lice got up. So we went round to the Medical Officer, who was also in the dug-out with his equipment, and he gave us some ointment which he assured us would keep the little brutes away. We anointed ourselves all over with the stuff and again lay down in great hopes, but it was not to be, because instead of discouraging them it seemed to act like a kind of hors d'oeuvre and the little beggars went at their feast with renewed vigour

    Tolkien was invalided to England on 8 November 1916. Many of his dearest school friends, including Gilson and Smith of the T.C.B.S., were killed in the war. In later years, Tolkien indignantly declared that those who searched his works for parallels to the Second World War were entirely mistaken:
    One has indeed personally to come under the shadow of war to feel fully its oppression; but as the years go by it seems now often forgotten that to be caught in youth by 1914 was no less hideous an experience than to be involved in 1939 and the following years. By 1918 all but one of my close friends were dead
    A weak and emaciated Tolkien spent the remainder of the war alternating between hospitals and garrison duties, being deemed medically unfit for general service

    During his recovery in a cottage in Great Haywood, Staffordshire, England, he began to work on what he called The Book of Lost Tales, beginning with The Fall of Gondolin. Throughout 1917 and 1918 his illness kept recurring, but he had recovered enough to do home service at various camps, and was promoted to Lieutenant. However, it was at this time Edith bore their first child, John Francis Reuel Tolkien.
    When he was stationed at Kingston upon Hull, he and Edith went walking in the woods at nearby Roos, and Edith began to dance for him in a clearing among the flowering hemlock:
    We walked in a wood where hemlock was growing, a sea of white flowers

    This incident inspired the account of the meeting of Beren and Luthien, and Tolkien often referred to Edith as "my Luthien."

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