The Legion adds its voice to calls to recognise first black Officer

The Royal British Legion is supporting a campaign to posthumously award a Military Cross to Walter Tull, Britain’s first black Army Officer who was killed during the First World War.

To coincide with the 100th anniversary of Tull’s death yesterday, over 120 MPs signed a letter to the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Defence asking for the medal be awarded to mark the centenary.

This year, the Legion is leading a national movement to thank all who served and sacrificed during the war, from those who lost their lives to those who played their part on the home front. In particular, the Legion aims to highlight the contribution of those who have often been overlooked, including women, civilians and servicemen from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.

Charles Byrne, Director General of the Legion, said: “During this centenary year, as we say ‘Thank You’ to the First World War generation who changed our world, the Legion lends its full support to this campaign.

“Walter Tull is a name that should be remembered. He was a man who deserves our thanks. Awarding him the Military Cross would be a meaningful first step in that positive direction.”

Tull was originally recommended for the medal after leading 26 men on a night raid against an enemy position. Prevailing prejudice against black soldiers is generally accepted as having prevented him from receiving the award at the time.

Prior to the war, Tull was one of the first black footballers to play in England’s top division. He was eventually killed in action on 25 March 1918.


Notes to Editors:

The Royal British Legion’s work is encapsulated in its motto: Live On – to the memory of the fallen and the future of the living. The Legion is the nation’s biggest Armed Forces charity providing care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces, past and present, and their families. It is the national custodian of Remembrance and safeguards the Military Covenant between the nation and its Armed Forces. It is well known for the annual Poppy Appeal, and its emblem the red poppy.

As the nation’s champions of Remembrance, this centenary year The Royal British Legion is leading a movement to say ‘Thank You’ to the First World War generation for the legacy they left to us. Individuals, groups and organisations across the country are organising diverse activities to show their gratitude. Further information is available at

Media enquiries: For further information, contact Alex Pope, PR Officer, The Royal British Legion by phone on 0203 053 7119 / 07458 015 631 or by email at

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