Walter Tull

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by geezer466, Mar 16, 2013.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. Have done a search and whilst there are 11 references to this chap in the forums and his attainment to Professional footballer prior to WW1 there is nothing about this petition.

    Seems the chap was denied a MC for service in WW1 possibly because of his skin colour.

    https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/prime-minister-david-cameron-to-posthumously-award-walter-tull-the-military-cross-2

    I have signed and thought ARRSERS might like to know so they can consider doing so too.

    More on the chap here....

    Walter Tull - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


     
  2. Its been done here and on several military history forums.

    Not sure I agree with this latest "campaign" to rewrite history on the basis of race, colour, discrimination, etc. By 1917, the date of the potential MC award, the British Army officer corps was vastly expanded and very meritocratic - men of all classes, backgrounds and educations were officers, and many were being highly decorated. Also there was something of an attempt to rationalise the medals awards systems (ie level out the perceived differences between "good" MCs and "sent up with the rations" MCs.

    Tull was undoubtedly brave, but he was just one brave man among many, all carrying out brave acts as a matter of course. He was probably just one of many who didn't get the award simply because some sort of quota was in place - nothing to do with his skin colour. After all, the same controversies over awards continue right up to today, regardless of skin colour. I can think of one chap who didn't get a medal because a more senior chap picked up one "for the unit" instead, and I'm sure just about everyone else could describe a similar award case.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. There are legal reasons as well why this would be problematic. As it stands, the MC was not authorised to be awarded posthumously until 1979 and the legislation does not allow it to be awarded retrospectivly. There is quite a logical basis for this as there simply HAS to be a cut-off at some point in time. What this chap did was heroic and truly inspiring however then again, this happened to be the case for countless others equally deserving of the same award, perhaps even higher. It is a fact that it is not just the action that determines the award but other external factors right down to both civillian and military politics and indeed even a quota system. Harsh. but understandable.

    Saying that, I had never heard of this fellow until this thread and will certainly research a very distinquishd history. Inspiring chap.
     
  4. Whilst sympathetic to the idea, I'm not going to support any petititon.

    Many were written up for awards but as rationing of them became more common it meant many deserving men ended up with nothing. Just the same in WW2. I've read some incredible nominations for awards and by today's standards I doubt any would have been turned down. Changing the past in this manner should not happen.
     
  5. So the petition is so:

    An award that was not awarded posthumously at the time should now be awarded on the grounds that he was black?

    Obviously if sucessful there will follow a deluge of other nonsensical petitions about why someone was turned down for a gallantry award.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. OldSnowy

    OldSnowy LE Moderator Book Reviewer

    Sorry, but it's not getting my support either. There is no precedent for awarding a posthumous MC in the First World War, and to do so for Lt Tull would open an enormous, diviseive and pointless can of worms.

    I expect this debate to continue as the centenary approaches.
     
  7. Fair comment and there may not be the precedent or machinery for making the award today but the gentleman was recommended for an MC by a Major General so that must count for something and separates what could be seen a a bit of wheat from the chaff of opportunist claims to follow.

    If the man was denied because he was black which sounds plausible given the prejudices of that time then surely we should do something about it?
     

  8. If you're going to quote legislation (or a common law precedent) please provide the appropriate citation(s). Otherwise it's just barrack room lawyering.
     

  9. How on earth is anything supposed to be judged plausible or not nearly 100 years after the event, and with all witnesses long since dead? Even Tull's descendants never even knew him - they probably even have no idea exactly what colour he was! This is classic revisionist-tokenism bandwagon stuff - everyone shouting "race" and rushing to make a big fuss about something they actually have no first-hand knowledge about.

    By all accounts, Tull was a popular veteran officer and also a media celebrity of his time. His recommendation came from an MG. Racial discrimination does not sound plausible in those circumstances, especially given the vast number of awards given to colonial troops and to ethnic minority men serving in British units. To me the indications are that this was simply a case of "unlucky this time around; you'll get one in the next batch" - as happened to thousands of his white comrades.
     
  10. The problem comes with setting a precedent for future claimants.

    I share the same reserves as other posters, in that; this could snowball into every recommendation for an award that was not presented being entitled to a review on the grounds of perceived prejudices. Reviewing any historical "fact" when applying hindsight and modern values will always be distorted.

    I find the whole cold war medal/purchased bling issue distastetful and I find myself drawing parallels to this case. Sorry there wasn't a medal at the time but suck it up and grow a pair.

    I also question the motives of an obscure political organisation Welcome to OBV | OBV and IMHO it is for publicity and political gain.

    Unless there is evidence that the award was not presented on the grounds of discrimination then there is not a requirement for a review/award. Plausible discrimination maybe, but are we to review every non award on the grounds of plausability?
     
  11. The link says black men weren't allowed to be officers but he was an officer?
    If it wasn't allowed then some loud tutting surely wouldn't have changed that?
    I'm afraid we don't accept things these days but shout its not fair, stamp our feet and start petitions.


    Posted from the ARRSE Mobile app (iOS or Android)
     
  12. If the army really was prejudiced against black people why did they give him a commission in the first place?
     
  13. He died almost 100 years ago. I doubt there's anybody alive who ever met the bloke. Who benefits from this?

    If we're going to embark on righting the wrongs of the past, it's going to be a very long and unrewarding road.
     
  14. His company, battalion and brigade commanders decided he didn't warrant an MC, why do we (you) think differently now?