Saturday, September 01, 2018

Walter Tull & 11 November 2018

A couple of weeks ago I went to Folkestone (via the high speed rail link in 46 minutes) for a Friday night beer and curry with an old mate. The following morning hangover cure was a brisk walk along the beach and back along the prom.

Near the town War Memorial on the prom there was an information board which featured a Newham connection (above). Walter Tull was born in Folkestone 1888 but he was also one of the first UK black professional footballers and was first spotted playing for Forest Gate based (Now London Borough Newham) Clapton FC.

After the outbreak of the First World War he joined the British Army in 1914 and was commissioned as an officer in 1917. Arguably the first ever Black commissioned officer despite apparently military regulations forbidding it. He was killed in action in Northern France 8 March 1918. His body was never recovered.

My Taid (Welsh for Grandfather) Captain Frederick Matthews MC RND, another working class volunteer, also fought in the Western Front during First World War. He survived.

The Folkestone War memorial is next to what is now called the "Road of Remembrance". During the First World War troops used to get off trains at a nearby depot then march down that road to the port below then take the military ferry to France. I suspect that Walter and my Taid had marched at different times up and down that same road several times during the War.

On 11 November 2018 it is the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. Time to remember and reflect on everyone (regardless of class, race and nationality) who fought in this bloody, dreadful War. 

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