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    Alison Hammond’s Back To School leaves viewers in tears over poignant tribute to Walter Tull

    Alison Hammond’s Back To School leaves viewers in tears over poignant tribute to Walter Tull – the first black British footballer who gave up career to fight in World War I

    • Alison Hammond’s documentary left viewers in tears last night after she explored life Walter Tull, the first black professional footballer and army officer 
    • Tull was born in 1888 in Folkstone to a Barbadian father and British mother 
    • He became a footballer and faced racism from fans while playing for Spurs
    • But his career was cut short at the outbreak of World War I, where he became an officer and died in the Somme 

    Alison Hammond’s new documentary left viewers in tears last night after she explored the life Walter Tull, the first black professional footballer who cut short his career to fight in the British army in World War I.

    The latest instalment of Back To School, a series tells the tales of influential black figures who have been hidden in Britain’s history, left viewers praising the This Morning presenter for her ‘engaging delivery’ and ‘touching tribute’ to the former Spurs star.

    Walter Tull overcame adversity early on in life – he was orphaned as a child and grew up in a children’s home – to make his name as a professional footballer.

    Alison Hammond’s new documentary left viewers in tears last night after she explored the life Walter Tull (pictured) the first black professional footballer who cut short his career to fight in the British army in World War I.

    He went on to become the first black professional footballer in the UK but Walter, whose late father was from Barbados, endured sickening racist abuse from crowds during matches. 

    His career was cut short at the outbreak of the First World War when he joined the newly-formed 17th (Football) Battalion, Middlesex Regiment.

    Who is Walter Tull? The first black British professional footballer and army officer who died a hero in The Somme

    Walter Tull was born in Folkstone in 1888, the son of a carpenter whose father had been a slave.

    His mother, from Kent, died when he was seven and his father died two years later, so he and his brother were sent to an orphanage in east London.

    Tull’s football career began in 1908 for Clapton FC and he went on to play for Tottenham Hotspur and Northampton.

    In 1914, he volunteered for the army and was promoted three times while training.

    Having been sent to France in November 1914, he returned home in May 1915 with ‘acute mania’ but later took part in the 1916 Battle of the Somme.

    He was promoted through the ranks and became a second lieutenant on May 29, 1917. 

    He fought at the Somme, Passchendaele and during the Italian campaign of the winter of 1917 where was cited for ‘gallantry and coolness’ for leading his company of 26 men to safety during two night missions. 

    On May 30, 1917 he received his officer’s commission. He was sent to Italy where he was mentioned in despatches.

    He returned to the Western Front where, on March 25, 1918, he was killed by machine gun fire. His body was never found. 

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    The regiment was part of the army’s ‘Pals Battalion’ and was made up of more than 120 professional footballers.

    At the time there was a military rule excluding black people from exercising command as it was believed white soldiers would not wish to fight alongside them.

    The latest instalment of Back To School, a series tells the tales of influential black figures who have been hidden in Britain's history, left viewers praising the This Morning presenter for her 'engaging delivery' and 'touching tribute' to the former Spurs star. Alison is pictured with Walter's great-nephew at Tottenham Hotspur's stadium

    The latest instalment of Back To School, a series tells the tales of influential black figures who have been hidden in Britain’s history, left viewers praising the This Morning presenter for her ‘engaging delivery’ and ‘touching tribute’ to the former Spurs star. Alison is pictured with Walter’s great-nephew at Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium

    Fans praised the moving show, saying it brought them to tears and questioning why they didn't learn about it at school

    Fans praised the moving show, saying it brought them to tears and questioning why they didn’t learn about it at school

    But Walter bucked this trend and became the first black combat officer in the British Army, who was also recommended for the military cross.

    But he suffered from shell shock – now known as PTSD –  when he returned and later  died in action in March 1918, in the Somme aged 29.

    After learning about Tull from his great-nephew Ed, Alison took him to the Tottenham Hotspurs stadium where he was  surprised by Spurs midfileder Dele Alli. 

    After learning about Tull from his great-nephew Ed, Alison took him to the Tottenham Hotspurs stadium where he was surprised by Spurs midfileder Dele Alli (pictured)

    After learning about Tull from his great-nephew Ed, Alison took him to the Tottenham Hotspurs stadium where he was surprised by Spurs midfileder Dele Alli (pictured)

    ‘The Tottenham motto here is “To Dare Is To Do”. We believe Walter embodied everything is about,’ Dele said as he presented Ed with a framed shirt, leading him to break down in tears.

    Alli added that he Walter was an inspiration to him, and he can see his legacy in the changing room today, as the club is full of people from different cultures.

    The club then played a video dedicated to Walter on the big screen, which read: ”Walter Died at The Somme fighting for his country. A true hero,’ it read. 

    Fans were moved by the documentary,  with many praising ITV for reporting on history they didn’t learn at school.   

    Walter Tull overcame adversity early on in life - he was orphaned as a child and grew up in a children's home - to make his name as a professional footballer, before joining the army (pictured in uniform)

    Walter Tull overcame adversity early on in life – he was orphaned as a child and grew up in a children’s home – to make his name as a professional footballer, before joining the army (pictured in uniform) 

    The club then played a video dedicated to Walter on the big screen, which read: ''Walter Died at The Somme fighting for his country. A true hero,' it read.

    The club then played a video dedicated to Walter on the big screen, which read: ”Walter Died at The Somme fighting for his country. A true hero,’ it read.

    ‘So glad we recorded Alison Hammond’s “Back to School” on ITV – her warmth and humour made for a great programme telling untold stories. Worth an hour of your time,’ wrote one.

    ‘Watching Alison Hammond’s Back to School show on ITV and it’s so true, if there was more discussion about black history in school, I would have paid more attention in my history lessons,’ added another.  

    ‘I’m not crying… I’m not crying… okay I’m crying… Walter Tull RIP 

    In 2018, Royal Mail released a limited edition stamp featuring Walter Tull, the first black army officer

    In 2018, Royal Mail released a limited edition stamp featuring Walter Tull, the first black army officer

    Walter playing for Tottenham (in white) against Manchester United during the 1909/10 season

    Walter playing for Tottenham (in white) against Manchester United during the 1909/10 season

    The Spurs squad for the 1911/12 season is pictured ahead of the year. Tull is seen in the second row from the front

    The Spurs squad for the 1911/12 season is pictured ahead of the year. Tull is seen in the second row from the front

    ‘If you missed Alison Hammond: Back to School make an effort to catch up, it was fab. 

    ‘Watching Alison Hammond goes back to school I want to say it was very eye opening I had no idea that there so many important black people throughout history. The story about the footballer was so moving.   

    ‘The story of Walter Tull has made me cry, what a truly amazing man he was.’ 

    ‘Omg I teared up there. God bless Walter Tull. 

    ‘Programmes like this are so important, I only left school 5 and half years ago but I never got taught about any black figures in history! So many interesting stories #A

    Alison Hammond: Back To School is available to watch on ITV Hub

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