Sergeant Donald Wyatt
Unit : No.9 Flight, "G" Squadron, No.1 Wing, The Glider Pilot Regiment
Army No. : 5393017
On Sunday 17th September 1944, Sergeant Donald Wyatt flew a Horsa glider, towed by a Stirling of 620 Squadron from Fairford, to LZ-Z near Wolfheze, carrying a 75mm Pack Howitzer, Jeep and crew of "F" Troop, No.3 Battery, 1st Airlanding Light Regiment. He is mentioned in several accounts of the fighting around the positions of the Lonsdale Force in Oosterbeek on Wednesday 20th September.
Private Douglas Charlton of the 1st Battalion wrote: "...made it to within sight of Oosterbeek with him by 2pm on Wednesday. The Germans had got to Oosterbeek before us. We fought our way up the streets as best we could, before finally taking refuge. There were five of us in the old house we found - Callaghan, a young second lieutenant named Leslie Curtis and his batman, and a glider pilot by the name of Wyatt. We didn't have any time to relax. It was only a few moments before we heard a Tiger tank coming down the road towards us. Curtis and his batman took up positions on the ground floor window and the rest of us went upstairs where I hurriedly assembled our trusty PIAT."
Lieutenant Leslie Curtis MM, 1st Battalion, was killed on that day. His nephew, Simon Curtis, wrote: "I contacted Douglas and received a more personal account, slightly differing from the newspaper. In this account he has Leslie Curtis, Douglas Charlton, Sgt Callaghan, Wyatt, Bainbridge and Turrell (maybe Lt) no mention of the batman. After the tank attack Wyatt is dead, Bainbridge injured chest and shoulder and Turrell injured by falling masonry."
Lieutenant Mike Dauncey, Glider Pilot Regiment, also mentions him: "In a house on the left side of Weverstraat, Claude Smith, Sgt Wyatt, Staff Sgt Halliday, soldiers of South Staffs and paratrooper." And commenting elsewhere "We moved into a new position on Weverstraat, roughly a thousand metres from the scene of John Baskeyfield's action. That evening we spent digging in, I had Staff Sergeant Halliday and Sergeant Wyatt, both of whom were invaluable. There was no doubt that the others looked to the Glider Pilots to lead, which we did."
Dauncey, however, goes on to place Wyatt's death on Friday 22nd September, "2 Attacks on our position [on the Weverstraat] today. A self-propelled gun scored a direct hit on us from 50-80 yards. Sgt Wyatt was killed instantly and 8 other wounded. Major Croot was with us at the time."
Sergeant Wyatt is officially listed as being killed in action on Thursday 21st September; perhaps Dauncey's account is correct and it was in fact Friday when he was killed, or perhaps he was severely wounded on Wednesday and died on the following day. Another Sergeant Wyatt was also killed on Thursday, and to further complicate matters both men fell in the vicinity of Oosterbeek Church. The other was John Henry Wyatt of the 1st Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery, and the entry of "Sgt Wyatt died in the RAP [Regimental Aid Post]" in the 1st Airlanding Light Regiment war diary on Thursday 21st September, probably refers to him.
Donald Wyatt was buried in a field near the Van Hofwegen Laundry, a short distance from the Church. He was subsequently reinterred in the Oosterbeek Cemetery, plot 30.A.5. He was 21.
My thanks to Philip Thorne for this information.
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