Unit History: 51st King's Own Light Infantry
51st of Foot raised in 1755, it became the 2nd Yorkshire West Riding Regiment in 1782. It was converted to a light infantry role in 1809 and designated The King’s Own Light Infantry in 1821. The 105th was the 2nd Madras (European Light Infantry) Regiment, raised by the East India Company in 1839 and transferred to British service in 1861. The two were linked as The King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (South Yorkshire Regiment) in 1881, becoming The King’s Own (Yorkshire Light Infantry) in 1887 and The King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in 1948, at which time the two regular battalions were amalgamated.
The founder of the Light Infantry Sir John Moore received his first commission in the 51st and he was killed at Corunna in 1809, this is one of the regiment's battle honours. The 51st became a light infantry corp in the same year and was designated The King’s Own in 1821.
The KOYLI badge is described as a French Horn with a White Rose of York in the twist. Only the Ox & Bucks as the original Light Infantry wore a simple bugle horn, all the others had slight differences.
In 1881 the 51st was linked to the 105 Madras Light Infantry Regiment in the East India Company service and was absorbed into the British Army in 1861.
The Regiment wore blue facings and marched to "The Jockey of York". The KOYLI Museum is in Doncaster, the Colours and Regimental Memorials are in York Minster. In 1969 on the 165th anniversary of Sir John Moore founding the Light Infantry the Regiment became the 2nd Battalion The Light Infantry.
The 51st was one of the Minden regiments, this being its first battle honour, earned on 1st August 1759, Sir John Moore, the effective creator of the British light infantry arm, was commissioned into the 51st in 1777, later being appointed its Commanding Officer in 1790 before receiving a brigade command.
At Badajoz on 6th April 1811 Ensign Joseph Dyas twice led the storming party into the breach of San Christobal Fort. Offered immediate promotion by Wellington into another regiment, Dyas declined to leave the 51st. At Waterloo the 51st was on the extreme right of the British line. In the Second Burma War 1852 it gained the battle honour of "Pegu" and was later on the North West Frontier during the Second Afghan War.
The 1st Battalion of the new linked regiment saw service in Burma again in 1885 and on the frontier in the Tirah campaign in 1897. Meanwhile the 2nd Battalion had formed part of the Zhob Valley Field Force in 1890 and went on to distinguish itself in the South African War.
In WW1 the 2nd Battalion was at Le Cateau on 26th August 1914, taking some 600 casualties. The 1st Battalion reached France from Singapore in 1915 and was later to serve in Salonkia before returning to the Western Front in 1918.
In WW2 both the 5th & 8th Battalions were converted to light anti-aircraft regiments and the 7th Battalion to armour. The 2nd Battalion took part in the longest retreat in British military history, that from Burma to Assam on the frontier of India in the face of the Japanese in early 1942. After the war, the 1st Battalion served during the emergencies in Kenya, Aden and Cyprus and in Sarawak and Brunei, during the Malaysian/Indonesian confrontation.