World War I

From Tolkien Gateway
Tolkien in 1916, wearing his British Army uniform.

Who battled have with bloody hands
Through evil times in barren lands,
To whom the voice of guns
Speaks and no longer stuns...

J.R.R. Tolkien served in the British Army during World War I (or the "Great War"), most notably in the bloody Battle of the Somme. The earliest works of the legendarium—collected in The Book of Lost Tales Part Two—were begun during the conflict. The extent to which the war and Tolkien's experience of it are reflected in his written work is a matter of much interest in Tolkien scholarship.





See also Timeline of World War I at Wikipedia



  • June 10 - Exams start at Oxford University. Because of the war, only Tolkien and 24 others remain in the entire University. Tolkien passes.[1]
  • June 28 - Tolkien applies at the Oxford recruiting office to join the army.[1]
  • July 15 - Tolkien becomes a second lieutenant, and is appointed to the 13th Service Battalion of the Lancashire Fusilliers.[1]
  • September 25 - The Big Four of the T.C.B.S. - Tolkien, Smith, Wiseman and Gilson - have their last meeting.[1]
  • November 21 - G.B. Smith is shipped to France.[1]



  • January 12 - Tolkien's leave of absence (to recover from his trench fever) ends, but he is far from recovered.[1]
  • January 29 - Tolkien faces a Medical Board in Birmingham, but he is not deemed fit to return to war.[1]
  • February - Tolkien faces his second Medical Board, but is again deemed unfit for duty.[1]
  • February 27 - Tolkien faces his third Medical Board, and again his leave is extended.[1]
  • April 18 - Tolkien and Wiseman, the Great Twin Brethren, meet in Harrogate, and discuss the fate of the Barrovians and the future of the Society.[1]
  • April 19 - Tolkien, in revalidation, is assigned to the Humber Garrison, but is not fit enough.[1]
  • June 1 - Tolkien is considered fit for service again, but he is not reassigned to the Lancashire Fusilliers.[1]
  • June 29 - J.R.R. Tolkien succumbs to gastritis while at Brocton Camp.[1]
  • August 1 - "Tea Cake" Barnsley is killed in Ypres.[1]
  • October 13- Tolkien is found unfit for duty for six months, but able to do a desk job.[1]
  • November – Tolkien moves into 50 St. John's Street.[1]
  • November 16 - The Tolkien's first son, John, is born.[1]


  • October 11 - Tolkien is officially released from Brooklands Hospital, Birmingham.[1]
  • November 11 - The War comes to an end in a cease-fire.[4]


Further Reading

Tolkien and the Great War by John Garth

External links