Mossford Green Primary School petition for first-ever black officer to be awarded military cross
PUBLISHED: 19:00 01 December 2014 | UPDATED: 09:44 02 December 2014
A group of schoolchildren is calling for the first black officer in the British army to receive the Military Cross after learning about his story, 96 years on from his death.
Mossford Green Primary School, in Fairlop Road, Barkingside, has been studying topics relating to the First World War during this year’s centenary.
Stuart Fryd’s class has been particularly absorbed by the story of Walter Tull.
Not only did Mr Tull, a son of a slave, fight for king and country but he also played professional football – only the second black man ever to do so – for Tottenham Hotspur and Northampton Town FC.
The British Army even broke the law to make him the first black officer.
“My class were incensed he had not been given a medal let alone a grave anywhere,” said Mr Fryd.
Mr Tull led his troops in the Battle of the Somme and in Italy.
His commanding officers were so impressed with him he was recommended for the Military Cross.
However, he was killed in action in March 1918 before it was awarded having spent four years as a soldier. His body was never found.
The class have since set up a petition which has collected nearly 140 signatures.
Mr Fryd said: “We think it is a tragedy Walter Tull never received his military cross.
“The start of his life was pretty bad, he was left in an orphanage in Bethnal Green.
“So to get where he got to as a black man 100 years ago is quite remarkable.”
Mr Fryd has attempted to drum up support for the petition by tweeting footballer Rio Ferdinand and Northampton Town FC.
Two other schools are also involved in the campaign for Mr Tull to be posthumously awarded his Military Cross – Fullwood Primary, in Burford Close, Barkingside, and Glade Primary School, in Atherton Road, Clayhall.
“I think this is one of the most inspiring stories I have read about,” added Mr Fryd. “It seems people did not want a black man to be poster boy for the First World War.”
To sign the petition, visit epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/68118
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