An MP has begun campaigning for the Military Cross to be awarded posthumously to a former Northampton Town footballer killed in World War I. Northampton South MP Brian Binley said it was an injustice he was not praised. The MP has tabled a Commons motion saying: "This House remembers Walter Tull for his contribution to British sport as a professional footballer for Tottenham Hotspur and Northampton Town football clubs. The motion calls upon the government to right this "sizeable injustice by posthumously awarding him the Military Cross for his gallantry". Walter Tull was born in Folkestone on 28th April 1888. His father was a carpenter from Barbados who had moved to Folkestone and married a local woman. By the age of nine, Walter had lost both his parents, and when he was 10 he and his brother Edward were sent to a Methodist orphanage in Bethnal Green. His brother left the orphanage two years later, was adopted by a Scottish family and became a dentist. Meanwhile, Walter played for the orphanage football team, and in 1908, began playing for Clapton FC. Within a few months he had won winners' medals in the FA Amateur Cup, London County Amateur Cup and London Senior Cup. In March 1909 the Football Star called him 'the catch of the season'. In 1909 he signed as a professional for Tottenham Hotspur, and experienced for the first time spectator racism when Spurs travelled to play Bristol City. According to one observer, 'a section of the spectators made a cowardly attack on him in language lower than Billingsgate.' Walter was the first black outfield player in football's top flight and the first black person to be made a British combat officer in 1917 2nd Lieutenant Walter Daniel John Tull received his commission as an Officer, 30 May, 1917. In November, 1917, after becoming the first black British Officer to lead white troops while fighting in the battles of Messines and Passchendaele, he was posted to the Italian front. On both Christmas Eve, 1917 and New Years Day, 1918, in hazardous weather conditions, Walter led his men across the dangerous River Piave on missions behind enemy lines and returned them to base without loss or injury. For these acts of bravery, he was cited for his "gallantry and coolness" under fire by Major General Sir Sydney Lawford, his commanding officer. He was also recommended for the Military Cross but never received it, perhaps because the army broke its own regulations, which forbade men of non-European descent from becoming Officers. It regrets that he was not awarded the cross because, as a British citizen of non-European descent, he should not have been commissioned at all; The story of Walter Tull is now being told to 1000s of children in schools all around the country and he is finally getting the recognition that his truly remarkable life deserves. Please join us in our campaign to right this final wrong by signing this online petition to posthumously award Walter Daniel John Tull the Military Cross for his gallantry. FOR SCHOOLS: For educational resources about the life of Walter Tull visit: www.crossingthewhiteline.com ON FACEBOOK: Join the online Walter Tull community and discover the other objectives of the Walter Tull Campaign http://www.facebook.com/group.phpgid=33844959524&ref=ts THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT
As a black man, as a Spurs fan, my heart my very being reaches out to the stoic bravery and determination of Walter Tull. Here is a man who overcame life crushing racism and difficult life conditions to fulfill his potential on the football pitch and to bravely serve this country with distinction. Clearly a great man. Martin Todd
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