Tolkien is, to the consternation of many in the literary establishment, possibly the most widely read of twentieth-century British authors, whose sales show no sign of slacking. Tolkien volunteered for military service in June 1915 and was commissioned in the Lancashire Fusiliers. He served on the Somme with the 11th Battalion (74 Brigade, 25th Division), principally as battalion signals’ officer, from 27 June 1916 until 27 October 1916, when he was invalided home with trench fever. He did not return to active service. Much has been claimed for the part played by the Great War in Tolkien’s subsequent work. This talk will reassess these claims as well as setting Tolkien’s experience in the context of his brother officers’.