The glorious history of Doncaster’s adopted regiment was brought to life when re-enactors donned the uniforms from famous campaigns to mark the re-opening of a museum.
Visitors to the Chequer Road museum were able to get close to the uniforms and weapons used by Yorkshire soldiers in the Napoleonic and First World War.
They were typical of troops who served over the 250-year history of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, whose regimental museum within Doncaster Museum has just benefited from a £230,000 revamp.
Formed in 1755, the regiment was known until 1881 as the 51st Regiment of Foot when it was renamed KOYLI.
Its place in Yorkshire’s history was won at the Battle of Minden in Hanover in 1759, when the infantry ensured victory by beating off a French cavalry charge.
On that day, August 1, the victorious 51st soldiers placed white roses in their caps and that is why Yorkshire Day - known as Minden Day to the regiment - is celebrated on the same day.
The re-design of the exhibits, following a generous grant of £204,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, as well as donations from the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry Trustees and the Friends of Doncaster Museum, is almost complete and is bound to attract more visitors.
It traces the regimental history from the 18th century to the peak of its strength in the First World War, when manpower was increased to nine battalions and KOYLI men won eight Victoria Cross medals for bravery, and thereafter in the 1939-45 war and peacekeeping duties.
One of the new displays is a recreation of a trench dugout from the 1914-18 war, showing just what the ‘Tommy’ had to endure in the mud of Flanders.
Other new features include interactive displays and audio listening posts, where visitors can listen to diary extracts from the officers and soldiers of the KOYLI.
Also on display are items from the World Cultures collection, such as silks and other objects from India, to give visitors more insight into the experiences of the regiment during overseas service.
The KOYLI Museum is now open to the public, but an official formal opening is planned for the morning of Saturday, October 1, by the Mayor of Doncaster, and Brigadier Roger Preston, chairman of the KOYLI Trustees.
The celebrations will include a short display by the Cadet Bugle Section of their successor regiment, The Rifles, and re-enactors.