Wyatt, Eric Thomas Penfold

‘Pop’ Wyatt, as he was known in his battalion, was the fifth son of Hugh Richard Penfold Wyatt JP (H1874-1876), of Cissbury House, Findon, Worthing. His mother was Grace Evelyn Wyatt, daughter of George James Graystone Reid (Com.1837); after her husband’s death she moved to Holmbush, Findon. He was the youngest of five Wykehamist brothers: his elder brothers were Hugh Graystone Penfold Wyatt (D1904-1909, Sussex Yeomanry, who died of dysentery in Egypt in November 1915), Richard John Penfold Wyatt (G1906-1911), Geoffrey Wilfrid Penfold Wyatt (D1909-1915, East Kent Regiment, killed in action in 1916), and Oliver Evelyn Penfold Wyatt (D1911-1916).

From Winchester he went to RMC Sandhurst, and obtained a commission in the Coldstream Guards in 1924. From 1927 to 1929 he was at Christ Church, Oxford, and took Honours in Jurisprudence in 1929. At Oxford, where he was a member of the Bullingdon Club, he did a good deal of hunting. He was also fond of polo and racing, and was a good shot.  He was seconded to the Sudan Defence Force from 1932 to 1935, and on his return to England became a Barrister of the Inner Temple.

In 1934 he became a Captain, and in 1940 Major. He had gone out to France with his battalion, 2nd Coldstream, in 1939, spending the bitterly cold winter of the ‘Phoney War’ preparing fortifications on the Franco-Belgian border – fortifications which in the event were never used.

He was with his regiment in the rearguard action in defence of Dunkirk, and was wounded at La Panne.  He refused to leave his men, but on 1st June on Dunkirk beach he was mortally wounded and died at sea the next day before reaching England. He was thirty-six years old, and is buried in grave E.11 of St. James’ Cemetery, Dover.

War: World War 2

  • Surname: Wyatt
  • Forenames or initials: Eric Thomas Penfold
  • House: D
  • Years in School: 1917-1921
  • Rank: Major
  • Regiment: Coldstream Guards
  • Date of Birth: 20th June 1904
  • Date of Death: 2nd June 1940
  • How Died: Died of Wounds
  • Location in War Cloister: Inner D2
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: St James Cemetery, Dover: Grave E.11