Walter Tull was the first ever Black officer in the British Army, and the first black officer to lead white men into battle. He was also only the second black player to compete in the top division of football, playing for the Tottenham Hotspur and Northhampton Town. An unassuming pioneer, his life has inspired a play, a documentary and a petition. As part of a series of coins on the centenary of the Great War, The Royal Mint has begun a programme of commemoration that will continue over the next five years, telling the emotive story of the journey from outbreak to armistice through a series of United Kingdom £5 coins, arranged in six-coin sets. Passed over for the Military Cross, allegedly due to the Army's institutional racism that banned "negros and other persons of colour" advancement to officer ranks, Walter Tull has his own coin at last.
Given how little thought India’s contribution to the World Wars gets in our collective historical memory, it is almost strange to think that in the First World War India made the largest contribution to the war effort out of all of Britain’s colonies and dominions. Close to 1,700,000 Indians – combatants and non-combatants – participated in WWI. My own area of interest is India’s role in the Mesopotamian theatre. [more inside]
As Armistice Day approaches an exhibition reveals a hidden side to the horror of World War I. It contains previously unseen images of British servicemen who suffered terrible facial injuries in the conflict. The exhibition also tells the story of one surgeon - Harold Gillies – who through his efforts to help them became known as the father of modern plastic surgery. WARNING: Some of the following images are of a very graphic nature.