Page last updated at 10:09 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 11:09 UK

Medal campaign for black pioneer

Walter Tull
Walter Tull was killed on the Western Front in 1918

An MP has begun campaigning for the Military Cross to be awarded posthumously to a former Northampton Town footballer killed in World War I.

Walter Tull, the first black infantry officer in the British Army, was mentioned in dispatches for "gallantry and coolness" on the Italian Front.

He died in action in 1918, but because his family was from outside Britain, he was not entitled to a military award.

Northampton South MP Brian Binley said it was an injustice he was not praised.

The MP has tabled a Commons motion saying: "This House remembers Walter Tull for his contribution to British sport as a professional footballer for Tottenham Hotspur and Northampton Town football clubs.

Spurs player

"It also notes that his commanding officer mentioned him in despatches for his 'gallantry and coolness' on the Italian Front and recommended him for a Military Cross.

"It regrets that he was not awarded the cross because, as a British citizen of non-European descent, he should not have been commissioned at all."

The motion calls upon the government to right this "sizeable injustice by posthumously awarding him the Military Cross for his gallantry".

Mr Tull had previously played for Tottenham Hotspur where he was the first black player in football's top flight.

The footballer, who was born in Folkestone, Kent, in 1888, was the first black person to be made a British combat officer in 1917.

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