Grave of former Yorkshire police officer awarded Victoria Cross on first day of WW1 restored

The grave of a former South Yorkshire Police officer who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery has been restored thanks to the Victoria Cross Trust.

Lance Corporal George Wyatt was one of the first 10 men to be awarded the Victoria Cross
Lance Corporal George Wyatt was one of the first 10 men to be awarded the Victoria Cross

George Wyatt worked in Barnsley prior to his deployment in the First World War and went on to work as a police constable in Doncaster from 1924 to 1932.

He died on 22 January 1964 and is buried at the churchyard in Cadeby, Doncaster.

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Officers from Doncaster attended the restoration on Thursday (November 11), before Rev Amanda Barraclough from St Mary’s Church, Sprotbrough said a few words of remembrance at his graveside.

Lance Corporal George Wyatt was one of the first 10 men to be awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), receiving the honour on the very first day of the war. The VC is the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system. It is awarded for valour ‘in the presence of the enemy’ to members of the British Armed Forces.

The London Gazette proclamation for his actions that led to him receiving the Victoria Cross reads: “In Landrecies, France 25/26 August 1914, he was 27 years old and serving in the 3rd Bn, Coldstream Guards when his unit was hotly engaged close to some farm buildings, the enemy fire setting light to some straw sacks in the farmyard.

“Wyatt twice dashed out under very heavy fire from the enemy, who were only 25 yards away, and extinguished the fire, making it possible to hold on to the position. Later, although wounded in the head, he continued firing until he could no longer see owing to the blood pouring down his face. The medical officer bound up his wound and ordered him to the rear, but he refused to go and returned to the firing line and went on fighting."

His career in policing began with working as a stable hand at Hindlip Hall, West Mercia.

On moving to Barnsley he became a police officer, but was called up to serve in the Armed Forces before the outbreak of the war. On his return, he discovered there was no longer a job for him at Barnsley, so he walked in his uniform to Doncaster and became PC14, based at the Guildhall.

George continued to make headlines as a PC, when he was attacked by a prisoner in the Guildhall shortly after starting the job. He also earned an award for saving a woman from a bolting horse in the town, for which he was invited to dinner at the mansion house.

Doncaster District Commander, Chief Supt Melanie Palin, said: “It is with pride that we as a police service recognise the contribution of George Wyatt in his role as a police officer and to his efforts during the First World War.

“We welcome the restoration of his grave in acknowledgement of his bravery and his receipt of the Victoria Cross. His service to his country and to our communities is rightly remembered."

Keith Lumley, from the Doncaster branch of the Victoria Cross Trust, added: “We would like to thank South Yorkshire Police, and in particular its own military veterans, for the support they have given to the trust.

“Our aim to maintain the graves of VC recipients calls on the support volunteers and the veteran community along with our own team of veterans. This is even more significant when former police constable George Wyatt VC of Doncaster Borough Constabulary is remembered, and his grave restored because of the efforts of Hollie Stenton, Martin Cohen and their colleagues in SYP.

“As a Chair of the VCT and former South Yorkshire Police officer, I am proud to be associated with this project and the officers who have given their time and energy to remember one of our colleagues.”