The 1st, 2nd, 1/4th and 2/4th (4th Battalion doubled
as 1/4th and 2/4th) Battalions of the Regiment served
throughout the war as Infantry. 5th Battalion converted
into 53rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery
but later doubled forming 553 (K.O.Y.L.I. Light A.A.
Regiment R.A. (T.A) and 557 (K.O.Y.L.I.) Mixed Heavy
A.A. Regiment R.A. (T.A.). In 1955 these were merged
with 323 L.A.A. Regiment R.A. (T.A.) but allowed to
retain the title K.O.Y.L.I. by the battery remaining
in Doncaster. The 6th Battalion was disbanded in 1944.
The 7th Battalion became the 149th Regiment R.A.C.
The 8th Battalion became the 94th L.A.A Regiment,
R.A. in November, 1941, and served with the Guards
Armoured Division throughout the 1944/45 Campaign
in North West Europe. In 1943 the Yorkshire Dragoons
were converted for a short while into the 9th Battalion
King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. There were also
various holding and training battalions. Twenty-five
battle honours were awarded to the Regiment for ''The
Second World War".
The 1st Battalion moved to France at the beginning
of October, 1939, and so began its travels which were
to take it to many different parts of the Eastern
hemisphere before the war was over.
The winter of 1939-1940 was bitterly cold, and was
spent mainly near Lille, though the Battalion went
into position in front of the Maginot Line. In April,
1940, the Battalion was moved at short notice to Scotland
and thence to Norway. After landing at Aandalsnes,
advancing more than a hundred miles down the Gudbrandsdal
Valley, the Battalion became involved in a series
of rear-guard actions.
At Kvam the Battalion, entirely on its own, held
up the German advance for two days. After a severe
action at Dombaas, a railway accident and a long march,
the Battalion was withdrawn to Scotland.
After intensive training in Scotland, Northern Ireland
and England, in 1942 the Battalion embarked at Liverpool
and sailed for India, by way of South Africa. Four
months were spent in India and then came a move to
Syria, stopping for a while on the way in Iraq and
As part of the Eighth Army the 1st Battalion was
one of the assault battalions in the landing in Sicily
near Syracuse in July, 1943. Villas Mundo, the River
Semento and an attack on the enemy some 8,000 feet
up the slope of Mount Etna were the main engagements
in this two months' campaign.
The Battalion was again one of the first to land
when the mainland of Italy was invaded in September
1943. It was involved in a large number of very tough
engagements during the advance up Italy. Its outstanding
actions were at the crossing of the Garigliano River,
Minturno, and in the Anzio Beachhead. After the fall
of Rome the Battalion was withdrawn in July 1944,
to Palestine to rest. 1st Battalion in 15th Infantry
Brigade at Sicily.
1944 - Jan. - Apr. - 1st Battalion at Anzio as part
of 15th Infantry Brigade, 5th Infantry Division.
Late in 1944 the Battalion moved to Italy and then
to France, landing at Marseilles to join the British
Army of Liberation in Northern France. It came in
for the tail end of the fighting in Germany and completed
the final advance to Lubeck, including the crossing
of the River Elbe.
The 186th Anniversary of the Battle of Minden, in
1945, was celebrated at Minden.
The 2nd Battalion remained in Burma until the outbreak
of the war against Japan in December 1941. When the
Japanese invaded Burma, the 2nd Battalion formed part
of the pitifully small and ill-equipped force which
tried to hold them up; it was the first British Battalion
to engage the Japanese in Burma. During the retreat
from Moulmein to Rangoon, the Battalion lost heavily
in a number of engagements, particularly at the Battles
of Bilin and Sittang, in the latter battle the river
bridge being blown before the Battalion reached it.
The Battalion was then withdrawn, but during the retreat
northwards through Burma to India was fully engaged
again, notably in the actions in the Yenangyaung oil-fields.
On reaching Imphal in India the Battalion was only
eighty strong; it had been forced to abandon all regimental
property, including the silver place, which was buried
at Pyingyaing and never recovered.
After being re-formed the Battalion was stationed
in Eastern India and on the Burma frontier until December
1943, when it was moved to Delhi. It was chosen to
take part in the assault on Malaya in August 1945,
and underwent training in the Mysore jungles for this
The 1/4th Battalion was first in action in Norway
in April and May 1940. It had been stationed at Northallerton
prior to Norway. On June 22, 1940 the battalion sailed
from Glasgow on the transport Andes as part of the
49th Infantry Division for Iceland, to hold that island
in case the Germans attempted to seize it. On August
26, 1942 the battalion returned to England and were
quartered at Ross-on-Wye. After a period of training
in England the Battalion landed in Normandy - Gold
Beach - as part of the 49th (West Riding) Division,
146th Brigade, Division was under command of Major
General Evelyn Barker. From then onwards until the
Germans surrendered in May 1945, the Battalion was
almost continually in action. The first full-scale
Divisional assault carried out by the 49th Division
at Cristot, the capture and holding of Tessel Wood
during the battle of Fontenay le Pesnil, and the capture
of Le Havre were the outstanding actions of the Battalion
The severest fighting took place during the autumn
and winter in the Low Countries. Four months of cold,
wet weather were spent in close contact with the Germans
near Nijmegen. In April the Battalion advanced into
Holland, capturing Arnhem, and ended the war in Utrecht.
Throughout the war the 2/4th Battalion served with
the 46th Division, and was the first in action in
France in 1940. It was then a partially- trained L.of
C. unit, armed with rifles and a few Bren guns, but
fought a rear-guard action on the Seine before eventual
evacuation from Cherbourg and St. Nazaire. In the
B.E.F. the 2/4th were in the GHQ Reserve where Major-General
H. C. Curtis had the 46th Infantry Division. The 2/4th
were in the 138th Infantry Brigade.
In January 1943, the Battalion sailed for North Africa,
and took part in a number of engagements before the
Germans were finally defeated in Tunisia in May 1943.
At Salerno, in Italy, the 2/4th Battalion was one
of the earlier units ashore, and fought all through
the first winter campaign, crossing in turn the Volturno
and the Garigliano, and fought against the German
90 Light Division at Celle.
Three months' rest in Egypt, Syria and Palestine,
and then the Battalion returned to Italy in 1945 and
moved into Austria with the Army of Occupation.
In WWII the regiment's nine battalions represented
the new age of warfare. 5 and 8 KOYLI were anti-aircraft
units, 7 KOLYI were armoured, and 9 KOYLI (formerly
the Queens Own Yorkshire Dragoons) was motorised.
The Second battalion served in Europe and the Mediterranean,
the First fought as a rearguard in the retreat through
Burma. The 1/4 battalion participated in the Battle
of Normandy in 1944 and subsequently in the Netherlands.
Reduced to one battalion, the KOYLI took part in
peace-keeping and counter-insurgency operations post
war. The battalion moved to Berlin in 1967, where
it joined the Light Infantry Regiment.