Wyatt, Geoffrey Wilfrid Penfold
Son of Hugh Richard Penfold Wyatt (H, 1874-1876) and Grace Evelyn Wyatt, (daughter of George James Graystone Reid (Com 1837)), of Cissbury, Worthing, and one of five Wykehamist brothers, another of whom, Second Lieutenant H G P Wyatt (D 1904-1909) died of dysentry in Egypt in November 1915 (see individual entry). He came to Winchester from Mr J H Mason’s school at Rottingdean and was in Sixth Book for more than three years, a Commoner Prefect and Head of House in 1913. In his last year he played in Association XI and in Lords.
He had always intended to make the Army his career and passed into Woolwich in November 1912 but was rejected on medical grounds when an irregular heartbeat was detected, although, as the Wykehamist pointed out in October 1916, it “had never seemed to interfere with his generally vigorous and athletic life here”. He joined the 3rd battalion of the East Kent Regiment direct from Winchester in July 1915 and in May 1916 joined the first Battalion in France. He was killed near Guillemont on 15th September 1916 on the Somme, during the Battle of Flers-Corcelette.
Wyatt was not the only Wykehamist to die that day on the Somme: ten others were killed or mortally wounded, including Captain Arthur Innes Adam (Coll.1907-1912, 1/1st Cambridgeshire Regiment); Lieutenant Raymond Asquith (Coll.1892-1897, 3rd Grenadier Guards), the son of the Prime Minister; Lieutenant-Colonel Eric William Benson MC (A1901-1906, 9th KRRC); Major Charles Blair-Wilson (I1908-1913, 42nd Canadian Infantry); Lieutenant George Macpherson (I1909-1915, Heavy Section – Tanks – Machine Gun Corps); Lieutenant Warine Frederick Martindale (B1907-1912, 1st Scots Guards); Captain Desmond Clere Parsons (E1903-1908, 2nd Irish Guards); Lance Corporal 73832 Henry Mark Ruddock (H1908-1913, 28th Canadian Infantry); 2nd Lieutenant Evelyn Godfrey Worsley (A1898-1903, 3rd Grenadier Guards); and Lieutenant Raymond Gilbert Hooker Yeatherd (F1904-1908, 2nd Dragoon Guards).
Winchester College’s archives contain a letter from Wyatt’s brother Oliver to their former housemaster, Horace Jackson (“The Jacker”). It is dated November 14th 1916, and mentions George Macpherson, who died on the same day. “Dear Mr Jackson, I think it was exceedingly kind of you to write to me to sympathize about Geoffrey. Of course it has made another great gap in the family, and it is very sad. But the Christian side makes so much of it seem wright [sic]. I don’t know if you realized that he and George Macpherson died on the same day in the same district. As you know, they were the greatest friends in the world, and it is very wonderful and beautiful that they should have died together. They met in France on the Sunday before for the first time for some months, and Geoffrey sat in his ‘tank’ and talked for a good deal of the afternoon. I am sure they would have liked to die together as they did. Geoffrey was killed by a bullet from a machine-gun quite near the Quadrilateral near Guillemont. He was turning round to speak to one of his men. He died instantaneously. As you probably know, George lived unconsciously for four hours.” He and his brother Hugh are also commemorated by a window in St. John the Baptist Church, Findon.
- Surname: Wyatt
- Forenames or initials: Geoffrey Wilfrid Penfold
- House: D
- Years in School: 1909-1915
- Rank: Second Lieutenant
- Regiment: East Kent Regiment (The Buffs)
- Date of Birth: 6th February 1896
- Date of Death: 15th September 1916
- How Died: Killed in Action
- Location in War Cloister: Outer F3
- Decoration: NA
- Burial Site: SERRE ROAD CEMETERY No.2: Grave XXX. B. 12.