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Outrage at MOD Response to Call for Military Cross for Walter Tull

March 2, 2009 12:55 PM
Walter Tull

Lieutenant Walter Tull: Brought up in Folkestone and taught at the Folkestone North Board school, now Mundella Primary School

Local Lib Dem campaigner Gary Fuller has expressed his outrage that the letter to Folkestone Town Council outlining the refusal of the Ministry of Defence to confer a posthumous Military Cross upon Lieutenant Walter Tull, the first black officer to serve in the British Army, seems to be based upon the premise that to do so might allow others to receive the award.

The letter suggests that it would be wrong to "second guess" decisions taken by commanders at the time, despite the fact that, for example, the barbaric practice of executing soldiers for desertion, many of whom have since been pardoned retrospectively, was still commonplace. It also suggests that to confer the award might "open the way for many individuals to seek the granting of awards retrospectively or posthumously".

Commenting, Gary said:

"It is frankly ludicrous to fail to confer this retrospective honour on the basis that others might also receive it. The actions of Lieutenant Walter Tull don't just reflect battlefield bravery, they reflect the huge personal bravery it must have taken to act as a of role model for black people everywhere by breaking down barriers which had stood for hundreds of years.

"The highest award for gallantry, the Victoria Cross, was set up retrospectively by Queen Victoria to cover the Crimean War and there were over 180 posthumous awards during World War one alone, so it isn't as if there is no precedent for such an award. This country has recognised that there are many actions in our past of which we are ashamed and has acted accordingly, why should we fail to recognise the actions of Britons of whom we are rightly proud?"