Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Remembering a Veteran: Lt. Walter Tull, 41st Division, British Army

Lt . Tull Has Been Honored with This 2018 Stamp from the Royal Mail

Walter Tull was one of English football's first black players and the British Army's first ever black officer to command white troops.He played as an inside forward and halfback for Clapton, Tottenham Hotspur, and Northampton Town and was the third person of mixed heritage to play in the top division of the Football League.

Tull enlisted with Middlesex Regiment, part of a Footballers Pals  Battalion that drew professional players from a range of clubs.He fought extensively in the war including the Somme and at one stage was sent home suffering from "shell shock"—what today would be diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Lt. Tull with Fellow Officers

He returned to the conflict, having been made an officer, and served on the Italian Front from November 1917 to early March 1918. It was here he was cited for his "gallantry and coolness" by Major-General Sydney Lawford, after leading 26 men on a night raid against an enemy position. He and his men crossed the cold River Piave into enemy territory before returning, all unharmed despite coming under heavy fire.

Returning to the Western Front, Tull was near Arras when the German Army launched its first Spring Offensive on 21 March 1918.  On 25 March, Tull was shot and fatally wounded.  It is reported Private Tom Billingham—a former goalkeeper for Leicester Fosse—attempted to drag Tull's body back to the British position so he could be buried. His efforts failed and Walter's body lay in the soil of northern France, like so many who fought and died in the Great War.  Tull's life is now commemorated at the Arras Memorial.

Sources:  BBC, Wikipedia

No comments:

Post a Comment