Walter Tull was born in Folkestone in 1888,
to a Barbadian father and an English mother.
At the age of nine, his parents had both died,
leaving Walter and a somewhat older brother.
At the age of ten, with his brother he went,
to an orphanage in Bethnal Green.
His brother left after just two years,
and became a Dentist, a man of means.
Walter stayed on at the orphanage
and played for their football team.
In 1908 joining Clapton FC.
The beginning of a young mans dream.
Within a few months he’d won medals,
in the FA amateur cup.
Then came county amateur and senior cup,
his football career looking up.
He signed for Tottenham Hotspurs in 1909
and was reportedly “Catch of the season”.
During the game against Bristol City,
he suffered racism without any reason.
It was reported that “Bristol Hooligans”,
used foul language in a cowardly attack.
Shouting abuse, the like not heard of,
referring to the colour black.
October 1911 Walter moved to Northampton Town,
9 goals in 110 appearances his final score.
For he now joined the Middlesex Regiment,
to fight in the first world war.
The Battalion known as the Seventeenth,
“First Football” was their nickname.
Whenever they could spare some time,
out came footballs and a very quick game.
Recognising leadership qualities,
to the rank of Sergeant he soon rose.
Taking part in the Somme offensive,
the Trench Fever he caught, sent him home.
Impressing his senior officers,
he was given a splendid chance.
Sent to Officer Training School, Scotland,
instead of the front line in France.
Against odds, he received a commission,
in the month of May, 1917.
It was an historic occasion,
the first black officer the British Army had seen.
Lieutenant Tull was sent to Italy,
and at the battle of Piave led his men.
He was mentioned for “Gallantry and Coolness”,
after that 1918 to France again.
His task was to break through German lines,
on the Western Front, with haste.
Then to attack the trenches at Favreuil,
no time were they to waste.
Soon after entering no mans land,
Walters life was brought to an end.
He was hit by a German bullet,
and died on the land he was sent to defend.
His faithful men made great effort,
to get his body back to their lines,
but under great fire it was useless,
they still tried for a considerable time.
Awarded the British War and Victory Medal,
and recommended for the Military Cross.
All the men that served under him,
were all too aware of their loss.
Walter Tull, the first black officer,
in the Army ,we will all remember,
when the poppies are laid at the Cenotaph,
on the eleventh day of November.