MPs demand Theresa May award black war hero the Military Cross 100 years after he died

More than 100 MPs have written to the Prime Minister demanding a black war hero is posthumously awarded the Military Cross.

The cross-party alliance says Walter Tull was overlooked for the honour despite his gallantry on the Western Front.

Walter, a former Totthenham footballer, was the first black officer to lead white troops into battle in the British Army.

He fought in six battles including the Somme and Ypres and was mentioned in dispatches for leading a daring raid into enemy territory in Italy.

Walter was recommended the Military Cross but campaigners say he was denied the honour because of institutional racism.

He was killed in action during the Spring Offensive 100 years’ ago on March 25 1918. His body was never recovered.

Walter fought in six battles including the Somme and Ypres

To mark the hundredth anniversary of his death, MPs from six parties are calling on Theresa May to “right the wrong” that unjustly denied Walter the Military Cross.

The letter says: “At the time that Walter served as an officer, the manual of military law stated that candidates for commissioning as an officer ‘must be of pure European descent.’

“Given the widespread prejudice that existed in society at this time and his position as a black officer in an army that did not permit black officers, Walter’s race was clearly a factor in explaining why he was never awarded the Military Cross that he was recommended for.”

It continues: “Walter Tull is a true British hero and his achievements in the face of the bitter prejudice that he faced throughout his life should be recognised and celebrated.

“His story still serves as an inspiration to Britain’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities. Walter Tull encapsulates what it means to be a Briton.”

Tottenham MP David Lammy called for the posthumous award “not just in recognition of Walter’s service and sacrifice but as a reminder that men of all races, creeds and colours gave their lives in both world wars”.

MP David Lammy said “men of all races, creeds and colours gave their lives”

The letter to the PM has also been signed by 123 MPs including Jeremy Corbyn , Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, former solider Dan Jarvis and former Tory Cabinet ministers Maria Miller and Andrew Mitchell.

“Walter Tull is a true British hero and he embodies everything that makes me so proud to be British. I think that everybody in our country should know Walter’s story and the hundredth anniversary of his death is the perfect opportunity to right this wrong, recognise his achievements and celebrate his life.

“His strength and courage in overcoming such bitter prejudice and racism to become a pioneer and a trailblazer in sport and in our armed services serves as an inspiration to us all. Walter defied the discrimination that plagued all aspects of society during his lifetime and served our country with distinction,” Mr Lammy said.

Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith added: “Walter Tull served this nation with courage and distinction, showing exceptional bravery during the First World War.

“It is high time to recognise his exceptional service and to award him the Military Cross”.

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