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Units That Used The Vickers

The King's Own (Yorkshire Light Infantry):

Great War - Inter-war - Second World War - Post-war


The Great War

The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry consisted of Infantry Battalions that would have had an MG Section as part of its Battalion Headquarters. These weapons would have been brigaded when the Machine Gun Corps was formed in 1915. The guns, and crews, would have been formed into a Machine Gun Company.

During the Great War, the Battalions were distributed as follows:

1st

The 1st Battalion was part of the 83rd Brigade, attached to the 28th Division. It's MG Section was likely to have been transferred into the 83rd MG Coy. which was formed on 25 January 1916.

As a unit of the 28th Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
The Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great war.

The Division assembled and mobilized at Hursley, Pitt Hill, and Magdalen Hill Camps (around Winchester) during December, 1914, and January, 1915. The 12 infantry battalions, of which it was composed, came from India (10 from nine different stations), Singapore (1), and Egypt (1); the brigades were formed at Winchester. The mounted troops included a cavalry squadron from an existing yeomanry unit, and a cyclist company, which was formed at Winchester. Of the field artillery brigades: in August, 1914, III. was in India and XXXI. was at Sheffield, whilst CXLVI. was only formed at Winchester. The field companies, signal company, field ambulances, and train, were territorial force units.

The 28th Division embarked at Southampton on the 15th-18th January, 1915, disembarked at Le Havre between the 16th-19th January, and concentrated between Bailleul and Hazebrouck by the 22nd January.

The 28th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium until the middle of October, 1915. It embarked for Egypt in October and November, and, on arrival, it encamped in the neighbourhood of Alexandria. On the 17th November, order were received for the division to embark for Salonika as soon as possiblle. Embarkation began on the 20th November, but it was not until the 4th January, 1916, that all the units had completed disembarkation at Salonika. (The XXXI. and CXLVI. Brigades, R.F.A., proceeded direct from Marseille to Salonika, sailing on the 17th November; these two brigades arrived: XXXI. on 27th November, and CXLVI. on the 2nd December.)

1915
BATTLES OF YPRES
22 and 23 AprilBattle of Gravenstafel Ridge [V. Corps, Second Army].
24 April to 04 MayBattle of St. Julien [V. Corps, Second Army, until 28/4; then Plumer's Force].
08 to 13 MayBattle of Frezenberg Ridge [V. Corps, Second Army].
24 and 25 MayBattle of Bellewaarde Ridge [V. Corps, Second Army].
27 to 05 OctoberBattle of Loos [I. Corps, First Army].
At noon on the 19th October, the division was ordered to be ready to entrain in 48 hours for an unknown destination. On 21st October, the division beganto entrain for Marseille, and on 24th October the first units sailed from that port. Units began to reach Alexandria on 29th October, and the division (less XXXI. and CXLVI. Bdes., R.F.A.) reached Egypt by 22nd November.

The 28th Division was then sent from Alexandria at Salonika on the 4th January, 1916.

2nd

The 2nd Battalion was part of the 13th Brigade, attached to the 5th Division. The MG Sections of that Brigade were formed into the 13th Bde. MG Coy.; however, 2/K.O.Y.L.I. was transferred to 97th Bde, 32nd Div on 28 December 1915 and the MG Section was likely transferred into the 97th Bde. MG Coy.

As a unit of the 5th Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
1914
23 and 24 AugustBattle of Mons [II. Corps].
23 August to 05 SeptemberRETREAT FROM MONS [II. Corps].
26 AugustBattle of le Cateau [II. Corps].
01 SeptemberCrepy en Valois.
06 to 09 SeptemberBattle of the Marne [II. Corps]
13 to 20 SeptemberBATTLE OF THE AISNE [II. Corps]
13 SeptemberPassage of the Aisne.
20 SeptemberActions on the Aisne Heights.
10 October to 02 NovemberBattle of la Bassee [II. Corps].
31 October to 02 NovemberBattle of Messines (2/K.O.S.B., 2.K.O.Y.L.I.) [Cav. Corps]
05 to 19 NovemberBATTLE OF YPRES [I. Corps]
1915
17 to 22 AprilCapture of Hill 60 [II. Corps, Second Army].
23 April to 01 MayBATTLE OF YPRES [V. Corps, Second Army].
23 AprilBattle of Gravenstafel Ridge (13th Bde.) [V. Corps].
24 April to 01 MayBattle of St. Julien (13th Bde.) [V. Corps, from 27 April, in Plumer's Force].

6th

The 6th Battalion was part of the 43rd Brigade, attached to the 14th (Light) Division.

As a unit of the 14th (Light) Infantry Division, its MG Section may have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
FORMATION, BATTLES AND ENGAGEMENTS

This New Army Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.

A proclamation was issued on the 11th August 1914 asking for an immediate addition of 100,000 men to the Regular Army (see Appendix 1. Army Order No. 324 of the 21st August, 1914 authorized the addition of six divisions (8th to 13th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army. This augmentation formed the First New Army, and early in September, 1914 the 8th (Light) Division, the senior division of the First New Army, began to assemble in Aldershot. The three infantry brigades of the Division were numbered: 23rd, 24th, and 25th.

It was, however, seen ascertained that the additional regular battalions released from the overseas garrisons would suffice to form another regular division. In consequence of this, Army Order No. 382 of the 11th September, 1914 directed that henceforward the number of the Light Division would be 14, and its infantry brigades would be renumbered 41, 42, and 43. On Monday the 14th September, 1914 this new numbering came into force, and instead of being the senior division, the Light Division became the junior division of the First New Army.

On the 26th September, whilst it was still at Aldershot, H.M. the King inspected the 14th (Light) Division on Queen's Parade. Late in November, 1914 the Division moved out to billets in the Guildford and Godalming district, and on Friday the 22nd January, 1915 the Division was inspected on Hankley Common by Field-Marshal Earl Kitchener. The Division remained in billets around Guildford until the 18th February, and the troops then returned to Stanhope Lines, Aldershot. Divisional field manoeuvres and the fnal training for war were now undertaken.

On the 11th May a warning was received from the War Office that the 14th Division would proceed overseas on the 14th; this date, however, was altered to the 18th May, and on the 18th entrainment began. The Division then crossed from Southampton to le Havre, and by the 25th May it completed its concentration around Watten (north-west of St. Omer). For the remainder of the Great War the 14th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium and was engaged in the following operations:

1915
30 and 31 JulyHooge (German Liquid Fire Attack) [VI Corps, Second Army].
25 SeptemberSecond Attack on Bellewaarde [VI Corps, Second Army].

Its MG Section was likely to have been transferred on 16 February 1916 to form the 43rd Bde. MG Coy..

7th

The 7th Battalion was part of the 61st Brigade, attached to the 20th (Light) Division. It's MG Section was likely to have been sent to Grantham for retrainined and subsequently transferred into the 61st Bde. MG Coy. which joined the Division on 03 March 1916.

As a unit of the 20th (Light) Infantry Division, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
FORMATION, BATTLES, AND ENGAGEMENTS
This New Army Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.

Army Order No. 382 of the 11th September 1914 authorised the further addition of six divisions (15th to 20th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army. This augmentation formed the Second New Army, and during September, 1914 the 20th (Light) Division, the junior division of the Second New Army, began to assemble in the Aldershot area.

At first the infantry brigades formed at Blackdown, Deepcut, and Cowshott Camp; and all units encountered the usual difficulties which were eventually overcome by goodwill and keeness. The divisional artillery was started by sending to Deepcut two officers and two drafts of nearly 2,000 men each. The available artillery accommodation, which had been built for two brigades with a total peace-time strength of 700, was strained to its utmost: rooms originally intended for 20 men had to accommodate about 50. By December, in the Artillery, the men were clothed partly in full dress blue uniforms, partly in canvas suits, and partly in shoddy thin blue suits. By this time a few horses had also arrived, and the available saddlery was made up of civilian-pattern snaffles, regulation bridles, hunting saddles, and colonial saddles. Each artillery brigade also possessed enough harness for one six-horse team, and each brigade also had 4 guns (2 French 90m/m and 2, 15-pdrs.) but no sights. In February 1915 twelve old 18-pdr. Q.F.s arrived from India and each 18-pdr. battery received one gun, henceforward proudly known as "our battery's gun."

Later on in February 1915 the Division moved to Witley, Godalming, and Guildford; but part of the divisional artillery had to go by train as there was not enough harness to move all the vehicles. The issue of khaki now began, additional horses and harness arrived, and the divisional ammunition column was completed with mules.

In April 1915 the Division marched to Salisbury Plain, covering the 62 miles in four days. On arrival the artillery drew its remaining harness and modern 18-pdr. Q.F. equipments were received; but it was somehwat later before the 4.5" howitzer equipments were issued. From the outset the 4.5" howitzers were equipped with No. 7 dial sights, whereas until July 1916 there were only No. 1 dial sights for the division's 18-pdrs. In June all the batteries went to gun-practice. THe training for war was now nearing its final stage.

On the 24th June H.M. The King inspected the 20th Division on Knighton Down. EMbarkation for France began on the 20th July and by the afternoon of the 26th July the Division completed its concentration in the area to the west of St. Omer. For the remainder of the Great War the 20th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium and was engaged in the following operations:-

1915
25 SeptemberAttack towards Fromelles [III Corps, First Army].

8th

The 8th Battalion started the Great War as a member of the 70th Brigade, 23rd Infantry Division.

As a unit of the 23rd Infantry Division, its MG Section will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
1914
This New Army Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.

Army Order No. 288 of the 13th September 1914 authorised the addition of the divisions (21st to 26th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army (See Appendix I). This augmentation formed the Third New Army, and during September 1914 the 23rd Division began to assemble near Frensham (in the Aldershot area).

Many difficulties had to be overcome in the early days. At first there was a great shortage of officers; and no trained clerks joined with divisional headquarters, consequently orders had to be issued verbally to adjutants until clerks, typewriters, and stationery could be collected. Trained cooks also were non-existent and the messing of the troops was undertaken by a catering firm. The civilian clothing, in which the men joined, was in rags by the time that emergency blue clothing was issued in the middle of October, and 20,000 suits of underclothing and pairs of boots had to be purchased in Yorkshire. During October 100 old Lee-Metford rifles were issued to each battalion for drill, in November 8 L.M.E. service rifles and 400 sets of old buff equipment arrived for each battalion, and in December old pattern water-bottles and white haversacks were received.

In November 1914 the divisional artillery began to form at Mytchett Camp. At first each brigade was commanded by a second-lieutenant, and it was fortunate that at this time the commands were merely nominal. The first armament received was the 90m/m. French guns. The 18-pdrs and 4.5" howitzers were not issued to the Division until the middle of 1915.

At the beginning of December 1914 the weather broke and the Division was moved into Aldershot, with part of the artillery at Ewshott. On the 22nd January 1915, in heavy rain, the Division was inspected on the Queen's Parade by Field-Marshall Earl Kitchener, accompanied by the French Minister of War (M. Millerand); on this occasion the troops paraded in blue serge uniforms and civilian greatcoats, and the infantry had D.P. rifles. On the 10th February the battalion allowance of wire and sandbags was doubled, and stress was laid on the troops being taught to entrench and to construct obstacles at night. At the end of this month the Division moved to the Shorncliffe area., and here the Division remained until the end of May when it moved to Bordon and Bramshott. The final intensive preparation then began. On the 16th August the Division was inspected on Hankley Common by H.M. the King, and the order to embark for France was received on the 20th. On the 21st the first advanced party left, on the 23rd the Division began entraining, on the 26th the first units arrived in the concentration area, and on the 29th August the Division completed concentration around Tilques (north-west of St. Omer). The 23rd Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium until November 1917, when it entrained for the Italian Front, on which it served for the remainder of the Great War.

The 24th Brigade transfered to the 8th Division on 18 October 1915.

As a unit of the 8th Infantry Division, its MG Section did not take part in any formal battles or engagements.

Its MG Section was transferred in January 1916 to form the 70th Bde. MG Coy..


Inter-war Period

In 1922, the Machine Gun Corps was disbanded and the guns returned to the Infantry Battalion as a Machine Gun Platoon and then formed as a Machine Gun Company in the early 1930s.


Second World War

This remained until the formation of Divisional Machine Gun Battalions in 1936 where guns were brigaded once again.


Post-Second World war

Upon the disbandment of Divisional Machine Gun Battalions in the post-WW2 restructure of the British Army, the Vickers Machine Gun assets reverted to individual Battalions as part of the Support Company as a Machine Gun Platoon.


Sources

  • Becke, 1934
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