A British Soldier
by Ann-Marie Imbornoni
World War I broke out in 1914, just as Lewis was leaving school to be tutored privately by William Kirkpatrick, a family friend who had tutored Lewis's father. As an Irishman, Lewis was not compelled to serve in the British Army, but nevertheless he chose to volunteer, joining the thousands of men already fighting in France. Lewis completed his military training, and shortly before his 19th birthday he was shipped to the front line near Arras, France.
At first Lewis did enjoy the sense of brotherly love shared by his comrades-in-arms, and he was proud to be engaged on behalf of a patriotic and glorious cause. However, as he witnessed the death, disease, and destruction all about him, he came to lose a good deal of his idealism. After he was wounded by an exploding shell in April 1918, he was sent home to recover. The signing of the Armistice in November 1918 marked an end to the war and Lewis's military service. Shortly afterward, he returned to Oxford.