Some postcards of Tolkien’s camps in Staffordshire during the First World War:
Whittington Heath, near Lichfield.
Two miles from Lichfield.
The Butts, near Newcastle-under-Lyme, for Musketry camp.
[No picture known]
Rugeley Camp (Penkridge Bank Camp), at Brindley Heath on Cannock Chase, between Rugeley and Hednesford.
Picture was “Posted to France from Penkridge”. Indicative of the type of soldiers Tolkien would have been in command of.
Brocton Camp, Cannock Chase.
Milford & Brocton Railway Station. “Milford and Brocton railway station served the villages of Milford and Brocton in Staffordshire, England from 1877 to 1950 on the Trent Valley line [to Lichfield].”
A lady golfer about to swing, with officers looking on from a safe distance. Brocton camp seen in the distance.
Tolkien is initially in the ‘P Lines’ huts near Ansons Bank, possibly these ones.
M & H Lines, Brocton Camp. He then moves to the lower ‘M Lines’ officer huts, about a mile north along the ridge from his previous ‘P Lines’ huts.
Oldacre Valley was a stone’s-throw below his ‘M Lines’ huts. Judging from maps, this is the way he would have walked to reach the road through Brocton village, and thence to the railway station. One can just about make out sandy footpaths through the heather slope, going toward the start of a lane in the distance.
“Behold, I stole by the evening from the ruined heath, and my way fled winding down the valley of the Brook of Glass, but the setting of the Sun was blackened with the reek of fires, and the waters of the stream were fouled with the war of men and grime of strife…” Eriol, speaking in Tolkien’s ‘Book of Lost Tales’.
General view, the water tower being about midway between the ‘M’ and ‘P’ Lines huts.
Probably Brocton, 1915.
“Lots of the early parts … were done in grimy canteens, at lectures in cold fogs, in huts full of blasphemy and smut, or by candle light in bell-tents, even some down in dugouts under shell fire.” (Tolkien, Letters 78)
C.J. and G.P. Whitehouse, Great War Camps On Cannock Chase – A Town For Four Winters.
John Garth, Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth.