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Article Walter Tull WW1

Discussion in 'World war one' started by The Hood, Mar 24, 2018.

  1. The Hood United Kingdom

    The Hood Mi Corporal MI.Net Member

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    Second Lieutenant Walter Tull died while engaged in combat near Arras in Northern France. He was 29.

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    In the early hours of 21 March 1918, a fog hung over much of the British line on the Western Front in France.

    At 4.40am, a German bombardment began. It was of a different order to any that had come before it.

    It marked the start of what became known as the German Spring offensive - a last throw of the dice to turn the war in their favour and score a decisive breakthrough.

    Over the next five hours more than 6,600 German guns fired 3.5 million explosive shells on British positions. The sound could be heard as far away as London.

    Into the midst of this death, destruction and chaos came Walter Tull, an officer of the British Army in spite of his "non-European" heritage, which should have barred such a commission.

    With the British Army fighting a fierce rearguard defensive action, Tull was shot and killed.

    Tull had played many roles throughout his short life: a brother, a son, an orphan, a footballer, a soldier, an officer and, finally, a war hero.

    At every stage he had to overcome adversity and challenges - obstacles he refused to let define him.

    Born in Folkestone, his young life was marked by tragedy when his mother, Alice, died of breast cancer when Tull was just seven.

    Two years later, his father, Daniel, passed away of heart disease.

    Daniel Tull had arrived in Britain from his native Barbados in 1876 having worked his way over as a ship's carpenter.

    The death of both parents left their children facing severe financial difficulties. Walter and his brother Edward were eventually taken in by an orphanage in Bethnal Green, part of an organisation known today as Action For Children.

    "Walter and Edward found themselves in the most precarious and vulnerable position," says the charity's chief executive Carol Iddon.

    "They were welcomed into a national children's home, where staff encouraged Walter's love of football - helping to shape both the life he would lead and the man he would become."

    The brothers were together and kept in contact with the rest of their family back in Folkestone.

    Further trauma was to befall Tull, though, when he and his brother were separated through Edward's adoption by a couple from Glasgow.

    Now alone in the orphanage, Walter excelled at sport and went on to play for amateur team Clapton FC.


    Spotted by Tottenham Hotspur, he was soon playing at White Hart Lane in front of crowds in the tens of thousands.

    One of the first black players in the English game, he was subjected to terrible racial abuse. One newspaper report at the time described how, during a match at Bristol City in 1909, "a section of the crowd made a cowardly attack on him in language lower than Billingsgate".

    The reporter wrote: "Let me tell those Bristol hooligans that Tull is so clean in mind and method as to be a model for all white men who play football. In point of ability, if not actual achievement, Tull was the best forward on the field."

    His career at Spurs drifted following the racial abuse he suffered. Confined to the reserves, his fortunes were revived when Herbert Chapman signed him for Northampton Town in 1911 for a "substantial fee".

    He went on to play 111 games for the club before the outbreak of World War One took his life down a radically different path.

    Read More

    Walter Tull was one of Britain’s first black footballers and a first world war hero but now his biographer believes he has uncovered evidence why the British army refused to award him a Military Cross after his death in 1918.

    The epitaph at the memorial garden for Walter Tull at The Sixfields Stadium, Northampton

    walter tull.jpg
    BravoZulu and berkut76 like this.

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