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Unit History: King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry

King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
The Regiment was officially formed in 1881 when the 51st and 105th Regiments of Foot were amalgamated as part of the Childers Reforms however, the Regiment can trace its history back a further 126 years prior to this date.
 
The 51st was first raised in 1755 by the Charles Watson-Wentworth the Marquis of Rockingham as 53rd Regiment of Foot it was re-titled as the 51st two years later.  It saw its first service during the Seven Years War (1754–1763) fighting at The Battle of Minden.  The next 10 years involved garrison duties in Ireland and Minorca.
 
In 1783 all British Regiments without Royal titles were awarded county titles to encourage recruitment from that area and the Regiment became the 51st (2nd Yorkshire West Riding) Regiment.  In 1803 the 51st served in the First Kandyan War (1803-1805) in Sri Lanka when the British took control of Sri Lanka and attempted to subdue the native population.  During the Peninsular War the 51st fought in all the major battles including; Fuentes d'0nor, Salamanca, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Orthes, Peninsula and at the Battle of Waterloo (1815).  In 1809 the Regiment was converted to Light Infantry which provides a skirmishing screen ahead of the main body of infantry in order to delay the enemy advance.  From 1816 the 51st spent 5 years on garrison duties on the home front before being re-titled as The King's Own Light Infantry Regiment in 1821.  The Regiment then spent the next 33 years on garrison duties abroad.  From 1846 until 1887 the Regiment was based in India took part in the Second Burma and the First Anglo-Afghan War.
 
The 105th was first raised in 1839 in India as The Second Madras European Light Infantry Regiment.  It was raised by the Honourable East India Company (HEIC), which ruled India by proxy for the British government, during the heightened tensions of the First Anglo-Afghan War.  In 1856 the Regiment served briefly in Burma following the Second Burmese War before serving in the Indian Rebellion of 1857.  In 1861 the Regiment was renamed as the 105th (Madras Light Infantry) Regiment when all of the HEIC Regiments were converted to the British Army and finally landed on British shores in 1874.
 
In 1881 these two Regiments were merged into the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry as part of the Childers Reforms.  The Childers Reforms restructured the British army infantry Regiments into a network of multi-battalion Regiments each having two regular and two militia battalions as standard.  The newly formed Regiment returned to India and served in the Zhob Valley Expedition.  In 1887 it was re-titled as the King's Own (Yorkshire Light Infantry) and then served during the Third Burmese War, the Ashanti Expedition, the Boer War and two World Wars.
 
In 1968 the Regiment was merged with the King's Shropshire Light Infantry, the Durham Light Infantry and the Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry to form the Light Infantry.  In 2007 another round of amalgamations meant the Light Infantry was merged with The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry and The Royal Green Jackets to form The Rifles.

King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry during WW1

Since 1815 the balance of power in Europe had been maintained by a series of treaties. In 1888 Wilhelm II was crowned ‘German Emperor and King of Prussia’ and moved from a policy of maintaining the status quo to a more aggressive position. He did not renew a treaty with Russia, aligned Germany with the declining Austro-Hungarian Empire and started to build a Navy to rival that of Britain. These actions greatly concerned Germany’s neighbours, who quickly forged new treaties and alliances in the event of war. On 28th June 1914 Franz Ferdinand the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne was assassinated by the Bosnian-Serb nationalist group Young Bosnia who wanted pan-Serbian independence. Franz Joseph, the Austro-Hungarian Emperor (with the backing of Germany) responded aggressively, presenting Serbia with an intentionally unacceptable ultimatum, to provoke Serbia into war. Serbia agreed to 8 of the 10 terms and on the 28th July 1914 the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, producing a cascade effect across Europe. Russia bound by treaty to Serbia declared war with Austro-Hungary, Germany declared war with Russia and France declared war with Germany. Germany’s army crossed into neutral Belgium in order to reach Paris, forcing Britain to declare war with Germany (due to the Treaty of London (1839) whereby Britain agreed to defend Belgium in the event of invasion). By the 4th August 1914 Britain and much of Europe were pulled into a war which would last 1,566 days, cost 8,528,831 lives and 28,938,073 casualties or missing on both sides.

The Regiment raised 23 Battalions, awarded 26 Battle Honours and 8 Victoria Crosses during the course of the war.

1st Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Singapore.
27.09.1914 Embarked for England from Singapore arriving at Southampton and then moved to Hursley Park and then Harwich.
17.02.1914 Moved to Hursley Park to join the 83rd Brigade of the 28th Division.
16.01.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1915
The Second Battle of Ypres, The Battle of Loos.
26.10.1915 Embarked for Salonika from Marseilles via Alexandria and engaged in various actions against the Bulgarian Army including;
1916
The occupation of Mazirko, the capture of Barakli Jum'a.
1917
The capture of Ferdie and Essex Trenches (near Barakli Jum'a), the capture of Barakli and Kumli.
20.06.1918 Returned to France leaving the 28th Division.
16.07.1918 Transferred to the 151st Brigade of the 50th Division once again engaged in action on the Western front including;
The Battle of the St Quentin Canal, The Battle of the Beaurevoir Line, The Battle of Cambrai 1918, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of Valenciennes.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Monceau N.W. of Avenes, France.

2nd Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Dublin as part of the 13th Brigade of the 5th Division.
16.08.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
1914
The Battle of Mons and subsequent retreat, The Battle of Le Cateau and the Affair of Crepy-en-Valois, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, The Battles of La Bassee and Messines 1914, The First Battle of Ypres.
1915
The Second Battle of Ypres and the Capture of Hill 60.
28.12.1915 Transferred to the 97th Brigade of the 32nd Division;
1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin, The Battle of the Ancre.
1917
Operations on the Ancre, The pursuit of the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line.
1918
The First Battle of Arras, The Battle of Amiens, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of the St Quentin Canal, The Battle of Beaurevoir, The Battle of the Sambre.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Haut Lieu S.W. of Avesnes, France.

3rd (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Pontefract and then moved to Hull.
April 1916 Moved to Withernsea and then Hedon.
June 1918 Moved to Pocklington and then Patrington.

1/4th Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Wakefield as part of the 3rd West Riding Brigade of the West Riding Division and then moved to Doncaster and then on to Gainsborough.
Feb 1915 Moved to York.
12.04.1915 Mobilised for war and landed in France.
12.05.1915 Formation became the 148th Brigade of the 49th Division which engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1915
The Battle of Aubers Ridge, The defence against the first Phosgene attack.
1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin Ridge, The Battle of Pozieres Ridge, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette.
1917
Operations on the Flanders Coast (Hush), The Battle of Poelcapelle.
1918
The Battle of Estaires, The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Bailleul, The First Battle of Kemmel Ridge, The Second Battle of Kemmel Ridge, The Battle of the Scherpenberg, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of Valenciennes.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Leforest north of Douai, France.

1/5th Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at French Gate, Doncaster as part of the 3rd West Riding Brigade of the West Riding Division and then moved to Doncaster and then on to Gainsborough.
Feb 1915 Moved to York.
12.04.1915 Mobilised for war and landed in France.
12.05.1915 Formation became the 148th Brigade of the 49th Division which engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1915
The Battle of Aubers Ridge, The defence against the first Phosgene attack.
1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin Ridge, The Battle of Pozieres Ridge, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette.
1917
Operations on the Flanders Coast (Hush), The Battle of Poelcapelle.
1918
The Battle of Estaires, The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Bailleul, The First Battle of Kemmel Ridge, The Second Battle of Kemmel Ridge, The Battle of the Scherpenberg, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of Valenciennes.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Leforest north of Douai, France.

2/4th Battalion Territorial Force
30.09.1914 Formed at Wakefield.
Mar 1915 Moved to Bulwell near Nottingham as part of the 187th Brigade of the 62nd Division and then moved to Strensall and then to Beverley and then Gateshead.
Jan 1916 Moved to Larkhill, Salisbury Plain and then to Flixton Park, Bungay.
Oct 1916 Moved to Wellingborough.
15.01.1917 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1917
The Operations on the Ancre, The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The first attack on Bullecourt, The German attack on Lagnicourt, The Battle of Bullecourt, The actions on the Hindenburg Line, The Cambrai Operations.
1918
The Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras, The Battle of the Tardenois, The Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of the Drocourt-Queant Line, The Battle of Havrincourt, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The Battle of the Selle, The capture of Solesmes, The Battle of the Sambre.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Sous le Bois near Maubeuge, France.

2/5th Battalion Territorial Force
10.09.1914 Formed at Doncaster.
Mar 1915 Moved to Bulwell near Nottingham as part of the 187th Brigade of the 62nd Division and then moved to Strensall and then to Beverley and then Gateshead.
Jan 1916 Moved to Larkhill, Salisbury Plain and then to Flixton Park, Bungay.
Oct 1916 Moved to Wellingborough.
15.01.1917 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1917
The Operations on the Ancre, The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The first attack on Bullecourt, The German attack on Lagnicourt, The Battle of Bullecourt, The actions on the Hindenburg Line, The Cambrai Operations.
1918
The Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras, The Battle of the Tardenois, The Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of the Drocourt-Queant Line, The Battle of Havrincourt, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The Battle of the Selle, The capture of Solesmes, The Battle of the Sambre.
02.02.1918 Absorbed by the 1/5th Battalion.

3/4th & 3/5th Battalion Territorial Force
Mar 1915 Formed and then moved to Clipstone.
08.04.1916 Became the 4th & 5th Reserve Battalions.
01.09.1916 The 4th absorbed the 5th as part of the West Riding Reserve Brigade.
Oct 1917 Moved to Rugeley, Cannock Chase.
July 1918 Moved to Bromeswell near Wood bridge.
Oct 1918 Moved to Southend.

6th (Service) Battalion
12.08.1914 Formed at Pontefract as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Inkerman Barracks, Working to join the 43rd Brigade of the 14th Division.
Nov 1914 Moved to Witley.
Feb 1915 Moved to Aldershot.
21.05.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1915
The Action of Hooge, part of the first flamethrower attack by the Germans, The Second Attack on Bellewaarde.
1916
The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette.
1917
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Third Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Langemark, The First Battle of Passchendaele, The Second Battle of Passchendaele.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of the Avre.
19.02.1918 Disbanded in France.

7th (Service) Battalion
12.09.1914 at Pontefract as part of the Second New Army (K2) and then moved to Woking to join the 61st Brigade of the 20th Division.
Feb 1915 Moved to Witley and then Salisbury Plain.
24.07.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
1915
Trench familiarisation and training in Fleurbaix area.
1916
The Battle of Mount Sorrel, The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Guillemont, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Morval, The Battle of Le Transloy.
1917
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Battle of Langemarck, The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Cambrai Operations.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The actions at the Somme crossings, The Battle of Rosieres.
20.02.1918 Disbanded in France.

8th (Service) Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed at Pontefract as part of the Third New Army (K3) and then moved to Frensham to join the 70th Brigade of the 23rd Division and then moved to Aldershot.
Feb 1915 Moved to Hythe and then Bordon.
Aug 1915 Mobilised for war and landed in France.
18.10.1915 Transferred to the 70th Brigade of the 8th Division which engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
1916
The Battle of Albert.
17.07.1916 Transferred to the 70th Brigade of the 23rd Division;
1917
The Battle of Messines, The Battle of the Menin Road, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The First Battle of Passchendaele, The Second Battle of Passchendaele.
Nov 1917 Deployed to Italy to strengthen Italian resistance after a recent disaster at the Battle of Caporetto.
1918
The fighting on the Asiago Plateau, the Battle of Vittorio Veneto, including the passage of the Piave and the battle of Monticano.
04.11.1918 Ended the war at Rorai Piccolo west of Pordenone, Italy.

9th & 10th (Service) Battalion
Sept 1914 Both formed at Pontefract as part of the Third New Army (K3) and then moved to Berkhamsted to join the 64th Brigade of the 21st Division and then moved to Halton Park, Tring.
Nov 1914 Moved to Maidenhead.
April 1915 Returned to Halton Park and then on Witley.
Sept 1915 Mobilised for war and landed in France and engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
1915
The Battle of Loos (the Division suffered severe casualties and took the rest of the year to rebuild).
1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin Ridge, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Morval, The Battle of Le Transloy.
1917
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Third Battle of the Scarpe, The flanking operations around Bullecourt, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Second Battle of Passchendaele, The Cambrai Operations.
13.02.1918 The 10th disbanded in France. The 9th continued to engaged in various actions;
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The First Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Messines, The Second Battle of Kemmel, The Battle of the Aisne 1918, The Battle of Albert, The Second Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Epehy, The Battle of the St Quentin Canal, The Battle of Cambrai 1918, The Battle of the Selle.
11.11.1918 Ended the war moving to Limont Fontaine N.E. of Aulnoye, France.

11th (Reserve) Battalion
Oct 1914 Formed at Hull as part of the Fourth New Army (K4) and then moved to Harrogate to join the 90th Brigade of the 30th Division.
10.04.1915 Became a 2nd Reserve Battalion and then 90th Brigade became the 2nd Reserve Brigade.
Nov 1915 Moved to Rugeley, Cannock Chase.
01.09.1916 Became the 8th Training Reserve Battalion.

12th (Service) (Miners) (Pioneers)
05.09.1914 Formed at Leeds by the West Yorkshire Coal-owners Association and then moved to Farnley Park, Otley.
May 1915 Moved to Burton Leonard, Ripon as a Pioneer battalion of the 31st Division.
15.08.1915 Taken over by the War Office and then moved to Fovant, Salisbury Plain.
06.12.1915 Embarked for Egypt from Liverpool and took over part of the Suez Canal defences.
02.03.1916 Embarked for France arriving at Marseilles and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of the Ancre.
1917
Operations on the Ancre, The Third Battle of the Scarpe, The Capture of Oppy Wood.
01.07.1917 Attached to Army Troops and working on Light Railways.
30.11.1917 Returned to the 31st Division as a Pioneer Battalion;
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras, The Battle of Estaires, The Battle of Hazebrouck, The Defence of Nieppe Forest, The attack at La Becque, The capture of Vieux Berquin, The Battle of Ypres, The action of Tieghem.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Renaix, Belgium.

14th (Home Service) Battalion
Nov 1916 Formed and joined the 216th Brigade of the 72nd Division.
Jan 1917 Moved to Bedford and then Ipswich.
Early 1918 the 72nd Division and then broken up.
01.04.1918 Battalion disbanded at Bury St Edmunds.

15th (Service) Battalion
11.06.1918 Formed at Buysscheure, France from the 10th Garrison Guard Battalion as part of the 120th Brigade of the 40th Division.
13.07.1918 The title of 'Garrison' dropped and the Division engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1918
The Final Advance in Flanders, The Battle of Ypres.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Herinnes east of Roubaix, Belgium.

1st (Reserve) Garrison Battalion
Feb 1916 Formed at Newcastle and then moved to Killingholme and then Middlesbrough.
Mar 1917 Moved to Seaton Carew.
May 1918 Moved to Ireland and stationed at Berehaven, Co. Cork.

2nd Garrison Battalion
June 1916 Formed at South Dalton and deployed to France as part of the Fourth Army Troops.
July 1918 Transferred to the Lines of Communication.
31.07.1918 Became the 16th (Garrison) Battalion.

51st (Graduated) Battalion
27.10.1917 Formed at Ipswich from the 264th Graduated Battalion (formerly the 90th Training Reserve Battalion) as part of the 217th Brigade of the 72nd Division.
Jan 1918 The 72nd Division broken up and the Battalion moved to Doncaster to join the 208th Brigade of the 69th Division.
May 1918 Moved to Welbeck and joined the 207th Brigade of the 69th Division.
Aug 1918 Moved to Clipstone where it remained.

52nd (Graduated) Battalion
27.10.1917 Formed at Danbury from the 207th Graduated Battalion (formerly the 91st Training Reserve Battalion) as part of the 219th Brigade of the 73rd Division.
Jan 1918 The 72nd Division broken up and the Battalion moved to Doncaster to join the 208th Brigade of the 69th Division.
May 1918 Moved to Welbeck and joined the 207th Brigade of the 69th Division.
Aug 1918 Moved to Clipstone where it remained.

53rd (Young Soldier) Battalion
27.10.1917 Formed at Cannock Chase from the 8th Young Soldier Battalion (previously the 11th King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry).
Nov 1918 Moved to Clipstone as part of the 2nd Reserve Brigade.
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Active From: 1881 - 1968

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