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MPs call for posthumous Military Cross for Walter Tull

Walter Tull: MPs are calling for Tull to be awarded a posthumous Military Cross

MORE THAN 100 MPs have written to the prime minister today calling for a posthumous Military Cross to be awarded to Walter Tull, the first black officer in the British Army and one of the first black professional footballers.

David Lammy, in whose constituency lies Walter’s former club Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, has led the cross-party coalition to mark the hundredth anniversary of Tull’s death.

Lammy 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.”

In a letter to Theresa May, the 127 MPs from six parties call on the prime minister to “right the wrong” that unjustly denied Tull the Military Cross that he was recommended for.

Signatories of the letter include: leader of the Labour party Jeremy Corbyn, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott and ex-soldier Dan Jarvis.

In May 1917 Walter Tull became the first black commissioned officer in the British Army and the first black officer to lead troops into battle, despite military regulations at the time forbidding non-white soldiers becoming officers – a status reserved for servicemen of “pure European” descent.

Tull fought in six battles, including the Battle of the Somme and at Ypres, and was mentioned in dispatches for leading his company of 26 men on a raiding party into enemy territory in Italy. He was recommended for a Military Cross but this honour was never awarded to him due to his contradictory status as an officer in an Army that did not officially permit black soldiers to serve as officers. He was killed in action during the Spring Offensive and his body was never recovered.

Nia Griffith, Labour’s shadow defence secretary, said: “Walter Tull served this nation with courage and distinction, showing exceptional bravery during the First World War.

“It is high time to recognise his exceptional service and to award him the Military Cross.”

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