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First look at rare coin honouring black war hero

THE ROYAL Mint has released the first image of a limited edition £5 coin honouring Britain’s first black army officer.

Walter Tull – who was born in Folkestone, Kent, in 1888 – made history after enlisting in the army when the First World War broke out in 1914.

Defying specific army regulations banning ‘negroes’ and ‘mulattos’ from being promoted, Tull earned the respect of his colleagues and was commissioned as an officer in 1917.

He died in battle a year later on March 25, 1918, leading his troops to safety. And despite his commanding officer Major General Sir Sydney Lawford recommending him for a Military Cross, he was never given the honour that supporters believe he deserves.

But his face will now appear on a new piece of silver with a backdrop of infantry going ‘over the top’ as a tragic reminder of so many men’s sacrifice.

COMMEMORATION

It is one of a set of six £5 coins released as part of The Royal Mint’s five-year programme of commemoration of the First World War that will tell the story of the emotive journey from outbreak to armistice.

Prior to his army career, Tull also played in more than 100 professional football matches for Tottenham Hotspur and Northampton Town. His achievements on the football field paved the way for a later generation of African Caribbean players.

Another pioneer, George Africanus (1763-1834), will also be celebrated with a blue heritage plaque in his hometown of Nottingham. It is the first for a person of colour in the city.

Africanus, born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, was brought to Britain as a slave, but after being granted his freedom went on to found the Africanus Register of Servants, an employment agency to help liberated slaves find jobs.

RESPONSIBLE

He owned a number of properties and businesses in the centre of Nottingham and was also part of the Watch and Ward – a type of police force responsible for preventing civil disturbances.

The monument, unveiled on October 9, will be erected at his former business and home, now a site for visitors to learn more about him.

It is the culmination of a £69,000 Heritage Lottery Project l ed by Nottingham-based charity Belong with support from the Nubian Jak Community Trust and sponsored by Nottingham News Centre CIC and Nottingham City Council.

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