Walter Tull, the first black officer in the British Army, to be remembered in Ayr beach ceremony on Armistice Day 2018
Members of the public at Ayr Beach will fall silent on 11 November 2018 during a special ceremony to remember Second Lieutenant Walter Tull, as part of the national 14-18 Now commemorations.
Walter Tull is one of five Scottish heroes who lost their lives in the First World War chosen to be commemorated by a large-scale sand portrait for Danny Boyle's Armistice commission Page of the Sea.
On 11 November the public is invited to assemble at one of 32 beaches around the UK and Republic of Ireland for an informal, nationwide gesture of remembrance for the men and women who left their home shores during the First World War.
Remembering Walter Tull
Second Lieutenant Walter Tull (28 April 1888 – 25 March 1918)
Walter Tull found fame as a one of Britain's first black footballers and the first ever black officer to command white troops. Born in Folkestone, his mother was from Kent and his father a carpenter from Barbados. Both of Walter’s parents died before he was 10, after which he was brought up in a London orphanage. Walter became an apprentice printer before signing for Tottenham Hotspur in 1909, becoming a professional football player.
QUICK LINK: Scottish songs of World War I
In 1914, Walter volunteered for the Footballers’ Battalion, 17th Middlesex regiment. Two years later, he was promoted to sergeant while serving in France, before returning home after the battle of the Somme to be treated for trench fever and possible shell shock. Having recovered, he was sent to Ayrshire for officer training. His brother Edward, Britain’s first registered Black dentist, was brought up by adoptive parents in Glasgow and became a friend of Rangers player James Bowie.
Walter was invited to play for the club and may have participated in friendly matches. Walter returned to the front as the British Army’s first Black officer. After a period of fighting in Italy, Walter was posted back to France and killed in March 1918 at Arras. Although his men tried to rescue their officer after seeing him shot, his body was never found.
The work is commissioned and produced by 14-18 NOW, and is the culmination of the five-year programme of arts commissions marking the First World War centenary. It is delivered with partner organisations across the UK: National Trust; Activate Performing Arts; Creative Foundation; Eden Project; National Theatre Scotland; Nerve Centre; Sunderland Culture; Taliesin. The work is in association with Aberystwyth Arts Centre; The Grand Theatre of Lemmings; Magna Vitae; MOSTYN; SeaChange Arts; Swansea Council; Swansea University; Theatre Orchard; and Visit Blackpool. Each has been invited to create their own event centering around the sand art on the beach and reading of the poem, tailored to reflect the sacrifices of their local community.
Supported by The National Lottery and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
With additional support from Backstage Trust, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch) and National Rail.
Scottish partners on this project include: Fife Council, Fife Cultural Trust, The Byre Theatre, South Ayrshire Council, North Ayrshire Council, East Ayrshire Leisure, The Gaiety, Orkney Islands Council, Findhorn Bay Arts and Taigh Chearsabhagh.