Second Lieutenant Walter Daniel John Tull, 23rd Battalion, the Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex) Regiment

March 25, 2019

 

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1918, Second Lieutenant Walter Daniel John Tull, 23rd Battalion, the Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex) Regiment, was killed in action at Favreuil on the Somme.

One of six children of a Caribbean immigrant, he was educated at North Board School in Folkestone and, after being orphaned at the age of nine, at a Methodist orphanage in Bethnal Green. After leaving school he became an apprentice printer. In 1908 his skill as a footballer caused him to be invited to join Clapton F.C. and later Tottenham Hotspur, with whom he turned professional. He was bought by Northampton Town in 1911, only leaving them at the outbreak of the Great War.

After enlisting in the 17th (1st Football) Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, he was sent to the Western Front in November of 1915. His football skills were appreciated as the game became an important past-time for those behind the front lines. In May of 1916, he was sent home, diagnosed with shell-shock, and returned four months later in time to fight in the First Battle of the Somme. However, at the end of the year he was invalided home with trench fever.

In January of 1917 he was admitted to the officer cadet training school in Gailes, Scotland, and became the first mix-heritage officer in a British Army infantry regiment (although there were some in the Medical Corps). The 1914 Manual of Military Law excluded those who were not “natural born or naturalised British subjects of pure European descent" from becoming commissioned infantry officers, but it is believed that his superior officers recommended him based on his remarkable service.

After being sent to the Italian front he was Mentioned in Despatches for his gallantry, coolness and bravery under fire during the first Battle of Piave. In 1918 Second Lieutenant Tull returned to the Western Front and saw action in the Second Battle of the Somme. On the day of his death he was killed in No Man’s Land at Favreuil, leading a counter-attack against the Germans. His men tried to retrieve his body but were prevented from doing so by the heavy machine gun fire. He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, and eighty years after his death a memorial was unveiled at the Garden of Rest at Northampton Town Football Club. His commanding officer wrote that he was popular throughout the battalion, brave and conscientious.

Walter, from Folkstone, was 29 years old.

 

 

 

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December 11, 2018

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