Narrated by Michael Sheen and accompanied by film footage from the time, photographs, drawings, maps and film of the battlefield sites today John Garth, author of ‘Tolkien and The Great War’, and historian Peter Barton explore J R R Tolkien’s experiences in Thiepval Wood in the autumn of 1916. Tanks, and a battle technique called a creeping barrage, were new to the Somme and clearly impacted on the Lancashire Fusilier signals officer as echoes of his experiences appear in his Middle-earth writings particularly ‘The Fall of Gondolin’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’.

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This could be used as part of an author study where Tolkien’s experiences in the Somme are useful background information. In pairs students could turn this clip into an author Q and A article about where Tolkien’s inspirations came from.