“And if there’s one player who badly deserves to become a household name, it’s Walter Tull – a trailblazer for Tottenham Hotspur, a Black British player who defied the ingrained bigotry of his day to win plaudits in football (soccer) AND become a war hero amid the bullet-blizzard of the WW1 trenches.”
Walter Daniel John Tull was born on April 28, 1888 in the rural community of Folkstone in Kent of England. His father, Daniel, was a carpenter who hailed from Barbados; Daniel’s father had been enslaved in the island country. His mother, Alice Palmer, was of Kent, where her family had settled when her mother was younger. Daniel, who was Black, and Alice, who was White, met at a church in Folkstone and married soon after.
In 1895, Alice died, after suffering from cancer. The following year, Daniel remarried, to Clara Palmer, a cousin of Alice. In 1897, Daniel passed away from heart disease; he left behind his widow and six children. Because she was unable to rear all the children, the minister of Grace Hill Wesleyan Chapel in Folkstone suggested that the two oldest boys, Walter and Edward, be wards of the Children’s Home and Orphanage in Bethnal Green of London. Clara conceded to his advice and the boys were sent off to the bustling city.
Racism against Blacks was overt and in “History’s Forgotten People: Walter Tull” at History.com, the author speaks of an instance that referenced the two Tull brothers. A local charity felt it needed to alert the orphanage to the boys’ race, writing, “The father of these children was a Negro and they are consequently coloured children … I do not know if you are aware of this or whether it will in any way affect the application?”
For greater enlightenment...
BBC4 doc Walter Tull Forgotten Hero first 15mins.mov
BBC4 doc Walter Tull Forgotten Hero second 15mins.mov
BBC 4 doc Walter Tull Forgotten Hero third 15 mins
BBC4 doc Walter Tull Forgotten Hero final 15 mins
Walter Tull: Britain's Black Officer
BBC Sport the story of Walter Tull the forgotten hero in football and world war.