So, "Birmingham" ... was Tolkien one?
Honorary Freedom of the City of Birmingham
Individually, by name, no.
During his lifetime, no.
But so to speak, posthumously, in his regiment, yes.
Royal Regiment of Fusiliers 7 May 1975
OK, he was dead, but was it his old regiment?
Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers was formed on 23 April 1968 as part of the reforms of the British Army that saw the creation of 'large infantry regiments', by the amalgamation of the four English Fusilier regiments:
- Royal Northumberland Fusiliers
- Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers
- Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)
- Lancashire Fusiliers
Now, is any of the four his old regiment? Yes.
J. R. R. Tolkien
Military career Allegiance United Kingdom Service/branch British Army Years of service 1915–1920 Rank Lieutenant Unit Lancashire Fusiliers Battles/wars First World War
- Battle of the Somme
So, in a sense, Tolkien was at last given this magnificent Medieval Title : Freeman of the City of Birmingham. Chesterton lacked the local attachment, but a man he admired, like Tolkien admired him, Jesse Collings, had it and it was fitting he should have some shade of it too:
The Freedom of the City is an honour bestowed by a municipality upon a valued member of the community, or upon a visiting celebrity or dignitary. Arising from the medieval practice of granting respected citizens freedom from serfdom, the tradition still lives on in countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand – although today the title of "freeman" confers no special privileges. The Freedom of the City can also be granted by municipal authorities to military units which have earned the city's trust; in this context, it is sometimes called the Freedom of Entry. This allows them the freedom to parade through the city, and is an affirmation of the bond between the regiment and the citizenry.
Incidentally, this seems to correct one problematic passage I made earlier on, of him riding into battle:
1916 is when Tolkien married. And next year, he rode into WW-I, perhaps on a white horse. Unless its colours were more like those of Shadowfaxe.
Hmmm .... Fusiliers are (blushing) Infantry ... sorry./HGL