Title: The King’s Own Yorkshire Infantry in the Great War 1914 – 1918
Author: Bond, R C
Edition: 2nd Edition
Publication Date: 2004
Cover: Soft Cover without Dust Jacket – 350 pages & 14 maps
Comments: This history gives an account of the activities of the 13 battalions of the regiment that saw action, all on the Western Front with one going on to Salonika and one to Italy. No roll of honour nor list of awards; these are mentioned in the text.
From time to time the illustrated weekly magazine The War Illustrated published passport size photos of officers killed, usually a page at a time. The first such page comes in Volume I on page 76; the heading is: ‘Among the First to Fall – Some of Our Dead Heroes.’ The first picture on that page is that of the author of this book, Lt-Col R.C Bond. Since this book was published in 1929 we clearly have an early example of the ghost writer.
In fact, Lt-Col Bond was commanding the 2nd Battalion, KOYLI, and was taken prisoner at Le Cateau, though modesty prevents him mentioning the fact when he describes his battalion’s part in the battle. Like many of the infantry regiments of the line the KOYLI began the war with five battalions: the 1st and 2nd (in Singapore and Dublin respectively); the 3rd Special Reserve at the Depot in Pontefract, and two Territorial battalions, the 4th in Wakefield and the 5th in Doncaster. Subsequently the two TF battalions each raised second and third line battalions, both the former (2/4th and 2/5th) went to France, and ten Service or Reserve battalions were also raised, numbered 6th to 15th. Of these, the 6th to 10th and the12th were formed in August/September 1914 and went on active service, while the 15th was formed in France in June 1918.
All these battalions served on the Western Front, two of them also served on other fronts – the 1st in Salonika and the 8th in Italy. Fifty-nine battle honours were awarded, 9447 all ranks died and eight VCs were won. The first chapter is concerned with the 2nd Battalion (13th Brigade, 5th Division) and takes the story from Mons to January 1915 when the 1st Battalion arrived with the newly formed 28th Division. The next chapter is their story from the move from Singapore to their first couple of months in the trenches, to early April 1915.
There is a chapter describing the raising of the wartime battalions and with all those that went overseas there is the nominal roll of officers who embarked with them. The writer addresses the problem of relating the record of the several battalions in a history of comparatively moderate size by describing in greater detail the most important actions in which the regiment was involved, identifying the battalions engaged, and summarising the periods between thus giving a chronological account of the war.
There is an index but no roll of honour nor list of awards; these are noted in the text as are officer casualties by name and other ranks by totals. The result is a very competent piece of work by someone reported killed at the beginning of the war. Maps and illustrations are very good.