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Tolkien and... World War II

A student inquired: "What did J.R.R. Tolkien do in World War II?"

 

Everyone is talking about J.R.R. Tolkien's experiences in World War I, but few people know what he did in World War II. The truth is, he was also wounded. But it was not in a battle. It was when he went grocery shopping in July 1941. The previous night, the Nazis had bombed Oxford, but many bombs had not exploded. "We have new potatoes for you", the grocery shopkeeper greeted Tolkien when he entered. "I have collected them yesterday evening. The new crop is extraordinarily large!"

"You fool!" howled Tolkien. They were not potatoes, they were the unexploded bombs, neatly lined up in wooden boxes! The grocery shopkeeper had been misled by their ochre-coloured camouflage. Just then, the bombs started to explode!

But Tolkien heroically threw himself onto the bombs. Thankfully, he was wearing an extraordinarily sturdy woollen waistcoat. Such was his style of fashion. It mostly absorbed the explosion. The only wound Tolkien received was a scratch on his toe. "Thank you for saving my shop!" the shopkeeper cried and sobbed gratefully. "I shall never make this stupid mistake again!" He made Tolkien a bandage of fresh leek, and charged nothing for it.

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