Against All Odds

Walter Tull the Black Lieutenant

Stephen Wynn

Date Published :
March 2023
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Illustration :
32 black and white illustrations
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781526704047
Pages : 144
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781399019323
Pages : 144
Dimensions : 9.2 X 6.1 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order
Also available digitally:
Buy From Amazon Amazon
Buy From Apple Apple
Buy From Barnes and Noble Barnes & Noble
Buy From Google Google
Buy From Kobo Kobo

Casemate will earn a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking a link here


Walter Tull would have been a remarkable individual no matter when he had been born, but to achieve what he did, during the time that he did, makes him even more remarkable. He was an orphan at just six years of age, and despite not wanting to, his step mother, Clara, had no choice but to place him and his elder brother, Edward, in to a children's home in the East End of London. As neither Walter or Edward had ever traveled outside of Folkestone before, the upheaval must have come as quite a shock. Two years after entering the home, Walter and Edward were split up when Edward was adopted and went to live in Glasgow.

Walter's sporting prowess saw him play for top local amateur side, Clapton Football club, signing for them in 1908, but it was to be a short lived affair, as by the following year he had signed as a professional for the prestigious Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, making his first team debut against Manchester United.

In October 1911 Walter was transferred to Northampton Town Football Club, where he would go on to play over one hundred first team games, before the First World War brought a premature end to his career as a professional footballer. With the outbreak of war, Walter wasted no time enlisting in the British Army, initially as a Private in the newly formed 17th (Football) Battalion, Middlesex Regiment. Further promotions followed and in no time at all he had reached the rank of Sergeant.

He was put forward for a commission and passed out as a 2nd Lieutenant on 29 May 1917. He went on to become the first black officer in the British Army, to lead white troops in to battle, and was fondly regarded by the men who served under him.

Walter was killed in action whilst leading his men in a counter attack against German defensive positions on Monday 25 March 1918. He died a hero. He was well liked and respected by all who knew him. Like many men of his generation his life was cut short for the greater good whilst in the service of his country, so that others might prevail.

About The Author

Stephen is a retired police officer having served with Essex Police as a constable for thirty years between 1983 and 2013. He is married to Tanya and has two sons, Luke and Ross, and a daughter, Aimee. His sons served five tours of Afghanistan between 2008 and 2013 and both were injured. This led to the publication of his first book, Two Sons in a Warzone – Afghanistan: The True Story of a Father’s Conflict, published in October 2010. Both Stephen’s grandfathers served in and survived the First World War, one with the Royal Irish Rifles, the other in the Mercantile Marine, whilst his father was a member of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps during the Second World War.

When not writing Stephen can be found walking his three German Shepherd dogs with his wife Tanya, at some unearthly time of the morning, when most normal people are still fast asleep.


“The name of Walter Tull is not well known, either in the United States or his native England, where he amassed well over 100 professional football (or as it is known here, soccer) matches as one of the game’s early nonwhite pioneers, and later went on to become the first black officer of the British Army during WWI. He led white troops in combat; was highly regarded by superiors, peers, and those who served under him; and died heroically in battle. Tull was orphaned at a young age, losing both parents by the time he was 10. He also endured racism with dignity and grace, both in the military and in sport. Author Wynn (coauthor, Women in the Great War, 2017) points out much to be admired in Tull’s life and character, yet most of the volume is taken up with tangential information. Less than half of the volume contains actual biographical information on Tull, with the rest consisting of material like biographical vignettes of soccer players who served in the war, or other black soldiers of the Great War. Despite the paucity of detailed material relating to Tull’s life, this book would be a nice addition to any library’s sports or history collection, bringing attention to a forgotten hero.”

- Booklist

“The incredible true story of English foot-baller and war hero Walter Tull resonates a century after his death… Filled with details drawn from military archives and other original sources, Wynn’s narrative is an interesting account of a groundbreaking footballer and gallant soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good like many men of his generation.”

- Toy Soldier & Model Figure

More from this publisher