Remembering Walter Tull, the inspirational footballer who became a true hero in more ways than one.
After losing both his parents, Walter was sent to an orphanage in Bethnal Green. He was encouraged to pursue his love of football and started playing for amateur team Clapton FC, but soon he was spotted by Tottenham Hotspur andat the age of 21, Tull signed for Spurs in 1909.
At the outbreak of WW1, Tull’s life went down a very different path when he bravely enlisted with Middlesex Regiment.
He rose to the rank of lance sergeant and fought in the Battle of the Somme in 1916, before being sent home after suffering from ‘shell shock’.
While an officer cadet stationed in Scotland, he became the first black player to sign for Rangers FC and intended to play for them after the war.
Walter returned to the battlefront with a promotion to officer and between November 1917 – March 1918 he served on the Italian Front and was praised for his “gallantry and coolness” by Major-General Sydney Lawford.
He led 26 men on a night raid against an enemy position across the River Piave and was recommended for the Military Cross.
Sadly, in March 1918, Walter was killed near a village in northern France during the First battle of Bapaume in the early stages of the German Army’s Spring Offensive.
As testament to how much he was respected by the men serving around him, they desperately tried to recover his body despite coming under heavy fire.
His body was never found but his life is commemorated at the Arras Memorial – and name engraved with 35,000 other soldiers with no known grave who died in the area.
Lest we forget 🌺