b. 05/09/1886 Worcester. d. 22/01/1964 Sprotborough, Yorkshire.
George Harry Wyatt (1886-1964) was born at Britannia Road, Whitstones, Worcester on 5th September 1886. His father, Arthur Digby Wyatt, worked as a groom for a veterinary surgeon until 1889 and was then employed by the Dowager Lady Hindlip as a coachman at Hindlip Hall for the next 20 years. While in her employ the family moved to Hadzor. George’s mother was Sarah Ann nee Mason. His parents had married in Worcester in December 1883. George had six brothers and two sisters and was educated at Hindlip School and Holloway School in Droitwich. After he completed his studies, he became a blacksmith’s boy.
He enlisted at Birmingham on 23rd November 1904 and served in the 2nd Battalion, Coldstream Guards in England before being posted to the 3rd Battalion in Egypt on 16th September 1906. He gained the Third Class Certificate of Education on 25th February 1907 and undertook Mounted Infantry training in November that year until March 1908. Having returned to the 2nd Battalion in England in October 1908, he transferred to the Section B Reserve on 23rd November.
George then became a policeman in Barnsley on 9th January 1909. He married Ellen nee Graham at Whitehaven, Cumberland on New Years’ Day 1912. They went on to have seven children – Arthur Digby (b 1912), Ellen (b 1914), George Harry (b 1916), John (b 1919), Annie (b 1922), Maud (b 1923) and Jeffrey (b 1925). George transferred into the Doncaster Police on 19th May 1914 and trained as a mounted officer.
On 5th August 1914, George was recalled into the Colours and disembarked with the 3rd Battalion in France on 12th August. He would be evacuated back to England on 8th September with a gunshot wound to the scalp suffered on 1st September during his VC action.
During the retreat from Mons, 2nd and 3rd Coldstream Guards formed the rearguard for the 4th (Guards) Brigade. On 25th August 1914, the Battalion marched off towards Landrecies. It was imperative they crossed the Sambre bridges before they were blown up but by 9.45am on the 25th, the men were exhausted. They finally reached Landrecies at 1pm, and went into billets in the barracks northwest of the Sambre and by early evening the whole Brigade was resting.
At 5.30pm, reports were received that the Germans were advancing out of the forest. It turned out to be a false alarm. Sentries were posted and No 2 Company formed a picket at Faubourg Soyere, with two machine guns covering the flanks and wire across the road. Later that evening, the Germans attacked the position, and No 1 Company were sent in as reinforcements. The Germans charged in again and again, but were forced back. At 8.30pm, a German field gun joined in the fight. A barn stood to the left side of the lane leading towards the forest. The Germans tried to set up a machine gun at the end of the lane to fire into the British positions. Soon after a German shell set fire to the straw in the barn and the light allowed the enemy to direct more accurate fire into the British. With the enemy only 25 metres away Lance Corporal Wyatt dashed out with a pitchfork, tossed out the burning straw from the barn and beat out the flames. He repeatedly did this as the flames continued to be rekindled by shell fire.
After a short period of recuperation from his head wound, he returned to France on 11th November 1914 to join the 2nd Battalion. He was promoted to Lance Corporal on 18th December 1914, and was wounded again to the scalp at Ciunchy on 26th February 1915 and was evacuated back to England on 9th March. He then served the rest of the War back in England, transferring to the 5th Battalion on 12th August 1915.
George was mentioned in despatches by the Second in Command of the 3rd Battalion and no particular award was mentioned for him. In the summer of 1915, the Russians were looking to honour an especially brave act. Lieutenant Colonel Fielding, who commanded 3rd Battalion at Landrecies saw the letter from GHQ and alerted Major Torquhil Matheson who sent in the original battalion list of recommendations. Wyatt was awarded the Cross of the Order of St George 3rd Class (Russia) on 25th August 1915. Information was then requested on what happened at Landrecies. Matheson wrote to the new commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion, John Vaughan Campbell (later VC), and recommended Wyatt be awarded the VC. He was gazetted on 18th November 1915.
By now his father was landlord of the Pear Tree Inn in Hindlip and heard of his son’s VC in the local newspaper, “The Berrow Worcester Journal”. George was now a First Class Bomb Throwing Insttructor, and was presented with his VC by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 4th March 1916.
Following the end of his war service, he returned to the Doncaster Police on 19th December 1918, but was not formally discharged to the Class Z Reserve until January 1919. The Chief Constable presented him with a gold watch and his wife received a silver cream jug and sugar bowl. He was discharged from the Army Reserve in March 1920. On 30th June 1924 he stopped a runaway horse at great personal risk for which he was awarded a guinea.
George retired from the Police Force on 10th February 1934 and became a small holder. He died at Sprotborough, near Doncaster on 22nd January 1964 and was buried in Cadeby Churchyard, Sprotborough. George was also a freemason and a member of the Bulwer Lodge of Cairo No 1068. In addition to his VC, he was awarded the 1914 Star with Mons clasp, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oak leaf, George VI Coronation Medal of 1937, Elizabeth II Coronation Medal of 1953 and the Russian Cross of St George 3rd Class. His medals are held privately, and its location is unknown.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NOT PUBLICLY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: CADEBY CHURCHYARD, DONCASTER, YORKSHIRE.
George Wyatt's medal display at the Coldstream Guards RHQ, London
(medals not publicly held - Thomas Stewart).
St Johns Church, Cadeby, Yorkshire
War Illustrated, 4th December 1915
Worcester Guild Hall