Sheffield musician's tribute to pioneering black wartime hero
A Sheffield musician has commemorated Britain's first black army officer to command white troops, as MPs have called for him to be awarded the Victoria Cross 100 years after his death.
Walter Tull’s story is reflected in a moving new song which appears on the forthcoming album by young duo and BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards winners Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar.
Written by Sheffield-based singer-songwriter Russell, Walter is featured on the duo’s album Utopia and Wasteland, due out on April 13.
The first black outfield player to feature in the English top flight, Walter Tull spent two seasons at Spurs before going on to play more than 100 games for Northampton Town.
In World War One he was the first black officer to lead white troops into battle but was killed in action in 1919 and denied the Military Cross.
These are the song’s lyrics:
Nine is no time to change all you know
All the people the lives the times
Third in line of those still fighting now
Like Belluno mountains you climbed
You were gallant and calm through the Somme and the Fen
Bold and sure to defend
Not white enough for their medal of bronze
Now your soul lives on
They say you’ll never lose a game
So Walter leave that dive
Come up here to the smoke and live
Our new hero born our kid
In the western backwater they did jibe
Taunts that soon took their toll
You’d raised as high as they were willing to know
Forced to move on and go
When the demons of Europe rose
You and your 26 did rise
Through France through Spain and back again
From shield to battlefield
But once more for your guise was poor
Skill and bravery ignored again
And to you they gave pithy thanks
Obligations ignored or feigned