Touching story behind the mural that appeared on the busy street of Liverpool.

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The mural of a poppy field with black and white photographs was placed on Princes Avenue in Toxteth on Saturday by local community activist Joe Farrag to commemorate those from around the world who fought and lost their lives during World War I as part of the commemoration of World War I and Armistice Day.

A pop-up memorial stone has appeared along Princes Avenue this week to commemorate those who lost their lives in World War I.

Joe Farrag wanted to create a way to commemorate those who lost their lives despite the lockdown restrictions

said Joe: “The photos show people from the First World War from different regiments. There are Chinese soldiers, soldiers from Malaysia, the Caribbean, Africa, America, Germany, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom – I wanted to get many pictures from all over the world and I tried to get one from each continent.

Joe created the mural six years ago, and it was the backdrop for previous commemoration day events in Liverpool 8.

Speaking to Echo, Joe Farrag said: “I put it there because people are not supposed to gather for commemoration ceremonies this year, and I wanted to create something where people could pause when they need a few seconds to think, maybe to remember their own grandparents.

“I also did some exhibitions along the avenue on the walls with other photos, there are black regiments fighting for Germany from places of their empire, and the same is true for Belgium, and they are never mentioned.

“The reason for this is that we are talking about a world war, but often everybody talks about Germany or Great Britain, but a world war was a world war. It has always been this idea of Britain against Germany, but they were not the only ones who fought.

Next to the poppy portrait there is an exhibition panel with Walter Tull, a professional footballer from Folkstone who was the first black officer to lead soldiers into battle.

Many of the images show teenagers involved in the conflict, something that Joe says really resonated with him as a youth worker.

He died during the conflict and was denied a military medal even though he had been nominated by his commanding officer.

Joe said: “There were a lot of regulations regarding blacks serving as officers and the difficulty of becoming an officer. When he died, he was nominated for a military cross by his commanding officer, he was loved by the regiment he commanded, and died outside in front of his men.

“I came across a copy of the officer’s letter to the other army chiefs saying, ‘Give this man the cross he has earned,’ but it is what it is. It is amazing that you can do extraordinary things and not be recognized at all.

“He never got it, and part of the reason was because of regulations that ‘no colored man should receive the military cross’.

Joe says Walter’s story is one of the inspirations behind his work, which raises awareness of the lives of those who fought in world wars but whose stories are rarely told.

Joe’s own grandfather Ali Hussein Farrag lost his life in World War II during the Battle of the Atlantic. He was a member of the merchant navy and his ship was sunk in May 1943.

“He was on a 5-pound commemorative coin, on a stamp, but they would not give him the military cross”.

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