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King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry

The King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry has a long and varied history which is tied to the town of Doncaster.

The Regiment first came into existence in 1755, as the 53rd Regiment. It changed to the 51st Regiment of Foot in 1757 and, In the 1881 Cardwell Reforms, it was combined with the 105th Foot (The Madras Light Infantry). At this point the 51st became the 1st Battalion KOYLI and the 105th Foot became the 2nd Battalion K.O.Y.L.I.

In war time, the number of battalions increased, but was reduced again in peacetime. In 1968, the county Light Infantry regiments were amalgamated and the 1st Battalion, the last surviving battalion, became the 2nd Battalion of the Light Infantry. In 2007, there was another change, when it merged with other regiments to become The Rifles.

Although the regiment has a long association with Doncaster, the traditional recruiting area was all over the old West Riding of Yorkshire, which is now West and South Yorkshire. The original 53rd Regiment was raised in Leeds, and the Regimental Depot was established at Pontefract in 1878. However, the regiment is connected to many other places throughout Yorkshire including Dewsbury, Normanton, Castleford, York, and Wakefield.

Throughout the regiment’s history they were involved in many major battles, campaigns and wars including the Battle of Waterloo, the Boer War, the First World War and the Second World War. The regiment has served all over the world, including Burma, India, Africa, Italy, France, Germany, Malaya and Cyprus.

The regimental collection has been amassed over many years and items were brought together at the Regimental Depot, forming the first ‘official’ Regimental Collection. In 1987, a purpose-built extension was added to Doncaster Museum to display the collection.