The service revolver worn by J.R.R. Tolkien at the Battle of the Somme is now on display at the Imperial War Museum in Greater Manchester.
The revolver is part of a several pieces being displayed ahead of a large exhibition that is planned to mark the centenary World War One. The exhibition, called From Street To Trench: A War That Shaped a Region opens at the war museum in April.
Tolkien gained a commission as a second lieutenant on his graduation from the University of Oxford in June 1915, and served with The Lancashire Fusiliers in the war. His Webley Mk V was the standard British service revolver at the outbreak of the conflict.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s Webley service revolver
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”.
Between July and November 1916, there were more than 1 million casualties in The Battle of The Somme. Tolkien (and his battalion) arrived at the front on July 3, 1916. He occupied front line trenches in Beaumont-Hamel, Serre and the Leipzig Salient and took part in the attack on Ovillers.
At the end of October, weighed down by weeks of tension and wretched conditions, Tolkien contracted trench fever and was sent back to hospital in Birmingham. It was at this point he began writing The Book of Lost Tales, the stories that would form the foundation of Middle-earth.