Paying tribute to Walter Tull in Tottenham: Former Spurs player Garth Crooks, with standard bearers carrying the flags of the West India and British West Indies Regiments

Pioneering footballer and WW1 soldier Walter Tull honoured with plaque in London

Posted on on 23 October 2014
Share |

Walter Tull, the footballer who became the first black officer in the British Army during the First World War, has been honoured with a commemorative blue plaque in London.

It was unveiled on October 21st 2014 at the site of the house where the Tottenham Hotspur forward lived before the war, close to the club's White Hart Lane ground.

Carrying out the ceremony, the former Spurs striker Garth Crooks paid tribute to the heroism of an "amazing man," whose recognition had been "a long time coming."

He said: "I just want to thank those people who have been a part of getting Walter Tull to be recognised, to get us to a place where we can be here today and commemorate where this man lived, to understand who he was, and to get people in the area to also recognise him, and the generations to come."

The blue plaque is the latest honour for Tull. In September 2014, Britain's Royal Mint announced that he'd be remembered on a £5 coin being produced as part of a First World War commemorative series.

Walter Tull played for Tottenham and Northampton Town before the First World War, volunteering to fight when hostilities started in 1914.

He served in the Footballers' Battalions of the Middlesex Regiment, fought at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and the following year, became the first black officer in the British Army, even though such a promotion was against the regulations of the time.

Sent to the Italian Front, he was mentioned in despatches for his gallantry and coolness under fire.

But on March 25th 1918, Second Lieutenant Walter Tull was killed in action at the start of the German Spring offensive on the Somme. He's remembered on the Arras Memorial to Commonwealth servicemen who have no known grave.

Campaigners are calling for Tull to be posthumously awarded the Military Cross. They say he was recommended for the honour, but it was never received.

Royal Mint's commemorative £5 coin will feature a portrait of Walter Tull, with a backdrop of infantry 'going over the top." The Mint says it'll serve as a 'tragic reminder of so many men's sacrifice.'

The blue plaque remembering Walter Tull is on the site of his former home at 77 Northumberland Park, London N17. It's an initiative of the Nubian Jak Community Trust. 

Sources: Nubian Jak Community Trust; Royal Mint; Wikipedia; various

Images: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff