127 MPs call for first black British Army officer to be honoured

The first black British Army officer should be awarded a posthumous Military Cross, a cross-party group of MPs has said.

Racism meant Walter Tull was not formally recognised for his service and bravery at the time. This is despite being recommended for the accolade, campaigners have said.

The war hero was also one of England’s first black professional footballers. The drive to get him the medal has been backed by 127 MPs.

It came ahead of the 100th anniversary of Mr Tull’s death on 25 March. Mr Tull was commissioned as an officer in 1917. This was despite military regulations forbidding ‘any negro or person of colour’ from serving in such a role.

Labour MP David Lammy is backed in the campaign by opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn. Prominent Tories Maria Miller and Sarah Wollaston and Lib Dem, SNP and Plaid Cymru members, also back him.

Mr Lammy, whose constituency includes Mr Tull’s former football club, Tottenham Hotspur, said: ‘Walter Tull is a true British hero and he embodies everything that makes me so proud to be British.

‘I think that everybody in our country should know Walter’s story and the hundredth anniversary of his death is the perfect opportunity to right this wrong, recognise his achievements and celebrate his life.

‘His strength and courage in overcoming such bitter prejudice and racism to become a pioneer and a trailblazer in sport and in our armed services serves as an inspiration to us all.

‘Walter defied the discrimination that plagued all aspects of society during his lifetime and served our country with distinction.’

As an officer in the Army, Mr Tull fought in six battles, including the Battle of the Somme and at Ypres, and lead his company of 26 men on a raiding party into enemy territory in Italy.

He died in action serving for the country who despite a recommendation at the time, did not award him the Military Cross. A letter to the PM blames racism for the lack of recognition given to Mr Tull.

TNT News

Photo Credit: Phil Vasili

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