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JRR Tolkien's revolver in war museum.

Byline: Ben Hurst Staff Reporter

THE revolver carried by JRR Tolkien through his horrific experiences in the First World War trenches, which served as inspiration for his writing, has gone on show.

The Midland author, who grew up in Warwickshire, in what would become part of Birmingham, was a 2nd Lieutenant when he went to the frontline in 1916.

Tolkien served on the frontline as a battalion signals officer for the 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers from June to October that year. While there, he fought in the Battle of the Somme which lasted from July 1 to November 13, costing more than one million lives.

When he contracted trench fever he was sent to a hospital in Birmingham. It was there that he began work on drafts of his books about Middle Earth, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

The Webley Mark VI revolver, which is now available to see at the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, was the standard sidearm issued to officers during that period of the First World War.

The museum's director Graham Boxer said the weapon would allow visitors to "connect further with Tolkien's magical stories which were born from harrowing wartime experiences".

Tolkien expert John Garth, who wrote a biography of the author, said: "Tolkien lost two of his three closest friends on the Somme, a loss he talks about in the foreword to The Lord of the Rings. Like the rest of his generation, he also lost a world, which was replaced by the modern one. From the outset, the war seems to have stirred his creativity. It made him realise that he wanted to write and that he had no time to waste.

"He also said that Sam Gamgee, in The Lord of the Rings, was 'a reflexion of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognised as so far superior to myself .'" ."

In 1996, Tolkien's family gave the gun to the Imperial War Museum during a firearms amnesty in the UK, following the Dunblane school massacre. | The exhibition 'From Street To Trench: A War That Shaped a Region' opens at the museum in April. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has just been released in cinemas.


JRR Tolkien and the revolver he used at the Battle of the Somme
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Dec 14, 2013
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