A bit ‘o Barbados history: Walter Tull, first black British Army officer died at Somme Valley, France 1918

Walter_Tull

“There were military laws forbidding ‘any negro or person of colour’ being commissioned as an officer, despite this, Walter was promoted to lieutenant in 1917.”

Royal Mint to issue coin to honour the first black British Army officer

Walter Daniel John Tull was born on April 28, 1888 in Folkestone, Kent, England – the son of Barbadian carpenter Daniel Tull and Kent-born Alice Elizabeth Palmer. Orphaned at about seven years old, he was raised in an orphanage. The start of World War I found Tull doing quite well as a professional footballer, but he volunteered to serve and in 1916 fought in the Battle of the Somme, rising to the rank of Sergeant.

You have to understand that a negro/person of colour was not allowed to command white soldiers, but because of the need and Tull’s talent and earned respect, he was placed in charge of white soldiers and eventually promoted to lieutenant.

Tull was machine gunned to death on March 25, 2918. According to reports, several of his men (white soldiers all) tried to recover his body but could not due to the battle. His body was never found and Tull remains on the field of battle with thousands of his comrades.

There are efforts to recognize Walter Tull with a statue or a belated medal, but perhaps the best recognition is for Bajans to tell his story to others.

For the interested, here is where you can find a little more depth and details…

Wikipedia: Walter Tull

Walter Tull Sports Association: Who is Walter Tull?

The Guardian: Walter Tull, the first black officer in the British army, to feature on £5 coin

Our thanks to our old friend Christopher for reminding us of Walter Tull.

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