Walter Tull was a pioneering black British footballer and the first black officer in the British army, who died heroically fighting in the First World War and yet is virtually unheard of today.
When the First World War broke out, Walter abandoned his football career to join the 17th (1st Football) Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment. Walter was the first ever Black officer in the British Army, and the first black officer to lead white men into battle.
Walter was sent to the Italian Front where he twice led his Company across the River Piave on a raid and both times brought all of his troops back safely. He was mentioned in Despatches for his ‘gallantry and coolness’ under fire by his commanding officer.
He was recommended for the Military Cross but never received it.
After their time in Italy, Walter’s Battalion was transferred to Somme Valley in France. On 25 March, 1918, Walter Tull was killed by machine gun fire while trying to help his men retreat.
By Niamh Alexander aged 13