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Armistice Day: Tribute to British Army's first black officer

ARMISTICE 100: Today marks the centenary of the end of the First World War

WALTER TULL, the first black officer in the British Army has been remembered with a special tribute on one of Britain’s beaches today.

As the world commemorates 100 years since the end of the First World War, efforts are being made to ensure that the contributions of black soldiers are not being forgotten.

An impressive portrait of Tull, who commanded white officers in the British Army during World War One, and later went on to be one of Britain’s first black footballers, has been drawn on Ayr Beach, Scotland.

“It’s a real sight. It’s beautiful, really, really beautiful,” Robbie Gordon of The Gaiety Theatre, Ayr, who led the team that created the portrait, told West FM News.

He added: “It really feels like a poignant moment in terms of reflection.”

Tull’s portrait was one of several created to commemorate the contributions of individuals from the First World War on 32 beaches around the country.

His great grand-nephew Tor Justad joined locals on the beach in Ayrshire to observe the centenary of the First World War and witness the tribute to his ancestor.

The images etched on the sand have been washed away with the tide.


The temporary installations were part of a project called Pages of the Sea, which was commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary.

Tull enlisted in the British Army in 1914 and rose through the ranks to become a 2nd Lieutenant. In May 1917 he became the first black commissioned officer in the British Army and went on to lead troops into battle at a time when British Army regulations forebode non-white soldiers from becoming officers.

He fought in six battles, including Ypres, and died aged 29 during the Second Battle of the Somme in 1918. His body was never recovered.

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