The King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry In 1881 after the Cardwell and Childers reforms, regimental numbers were abolished. The 51st King’s Own Light Infantry became the 1st Battalion, The King’s Own Light Infantry (South Yorkshire Regiment) and the 105th became its 2nd Battalion. The Childers reforms also combined militia and rifle volunteer units into the regiments formed in 1881. Accordingly the 1st West Yorks Rifles Miltia became the 3rd Militia Battalion, while the 3rd Administrative Battalion West Riding of Yorkshire Rifle Volunteer Corps became the 1st Volunteer Battalion. In 1897 the regimental title was changed to the The King’s Own (Yorkshire Light Infantry), and in 1921 to The King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

With the creation of the Territorial Force in 1908, the 1st Volunteer Battalion was reorganised as the 4th and 5th Battalions (TF), while the 3rd Battalion was transferred to the Special Reserve. The KOYLI was raised to thirteen battalions during the Great War, and nine during World War II, including not only infantry but anti-aircraft and armoured units as well. In 1948, 1 KOYLI was disbanded and 2 KOYLI was renamed 1 KOYLI. In 1968, 1 KOYLI became the 2nd Battalion of The Light Infantry (2LI). In 2007 the LI merged with the Royal Green Jackets to form a new regiment, The Rifles. The former 1 KOYLI battalion (now 1LI) became 5 RIFLES.

History The 51st first saw action during the Seven Years’ War, gaining a reputation at Minden, its first battle honour. In 1803 it served in the first Kandyan War in Major-General Hay Macdowall’s division. The regiment embarked for the Peninsula in 1807, serving with distinction. The regiment served on the extreme right at Waterloo, and was engaged at Hougoumont Farm. Both the 51st and 105th saw extensive service all over the Empire throughout the nineteenth century. The Second battalion (105th) fought well in the South African War. Both battalions served on the Western Front in World War I, as well as 3 Territorial and eight volunteer service battalions.

In World War II the regiment’s nine battalions represented the new age of warfare. 5 and 8 KOYLI were anti-aircraft units, 7 KOYLI were armoured, and 9 KOYLI (formerly the Queens Own Yorkshire Dragoons) was motorised. The 2/4 battalion served in Europe and the Mediterranean, the Second 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.

Capbadge The badge of the KOYLI is unique amongst English light infantry regiments as the horn is of the ‘French’ type (with a twist). The origins of this are obscure. It appears to have been adopted after Waterloo, however prior to this the 105th had an ‘English’ style Bugle horn with a loop. In its centre is the White Rose of York, linking to the regiment’s home in Yorkshire. Unusual amongst British Army regiments, the badge lacks a crown. It was also the smallest cap badge used in the British Army.

Commanders WereColonel-in-Chief HRH Princess Alexandra
Colonel of the regiment

The Light Infantry was an infantry regiment of the British Army, part of the Light Division. It was formed on 10 July 1968 as a “large regiment” by the amalgamation of the four remaining light infantry regiments of the Light Infantry Brigade:

Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry
King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
Durham Light Infantry
The Light Infantry was descended from the original light troops that formed what were known as ‘light companies’ of line infantry regiments and later regiments in their own right. These soldiers were trained to act independently on the battlefield, within the framework of the battle, as skirmishers. In this respect, the Light Infantry shared many characteristics with the old rifle regiments and their descendant, the Royal Green Jackets, with which the Light Infantry formed the administrative Light Division. The Light Infantry though was not a rifle regiment, and the majority of its traditions resembled those of the ordinary line infantry regiments. Prior to 1914 the various light infantry regiments wore the same scarlet and blue full dress as the line infantry, being distinguished solely by their dark green cloth helmets and bugle horn badges.

The uniforms of the Light Infantry as created in 1968 did however have much in common with those of the rifle regiments: dark (Rifle) green No 1 dress tunics, rifle green berets and stable belts and black officers’ shoes. The separate identity of the light infantry was however maintained by the retention of details such as the dark blue trousers also worn in No 1 dress and the red sashes of sergeants.

Regular ArmyOn creation as a new regiment in 1968 there were four battalions, however on 31 March 1969 4LI (formerly The Durham Light Infantry) was disbanded leaving three regular battalions. The remaining battalions remained in service until 1993 when they merged to form two battalions renamed 1st and 2nd Battalions.

The regiment was active all through The Troubles in Northern Ireland with eight soldiers from the regiment killed in the Ballygawley bus bombing.

Territorial ArmyThe Light Infantry Volunteers was formed in the Territorial Army on 1 April 1967 from the territorial battalions of the four predecessor regiments. On 1 August 1972 it was redesignated the 5th Battalion, The Light Infantry. It lost its Cornish company and its last Durham company in 1981, and in 1987 it lost its Yorkshire companies and began recruiting only in Shropshire and Herefordshire. On 1 July 1999 it amalgamated to form two companies of the new West Midlands Regiment.
The 6th Battalion was formed in Somerset and Cornwall on 1 April 1971. On 1 July 1999 it amalgamated to form two companies of the new Rifle Volunteers.

The 7th Battalion was formed in Durham and Yorkshire on 1 April 1975. It began recruiting from Durham only in 1981. On 1 July 1999 it amalgamated to form one company of the new Tyne-Tees Regiment.

The 8th Battalion was formed in Yorkshire on 1 January 1987. On 3 August 1996 it was converted to a reconnaissance unit as the King’s Own Yorkshire Yeomanry. On 1 July 1999 it amalgamated to form one company of the new East and West Riding Regiment.
The various amalgamated D&D/RGBW companies and the Light Infantry companies have now become a new battalion in the new regiment, The Rifles as part of the restructuring of the infantry.

Amalgamations of 2007In 2004, it was announced that the Gloucestershire element of the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment would amalgamate with the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment. Because the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment was higher in the Order of Precedence than the Light Infantry, the new battalion was to be numbered as the 1st Battalion, Light Infantry, with the other two renumbered accordingly as the 2nd and 3rd. As of 2005, this amalgamation would have involved the whole of the RGBW.

On 24 November 2005, in a change to the planned amalgamations, it was announced by the Ministry of Defence that, after discussions between The Light Infantry, the Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry, the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry and the Royal Green Jackets, the four regiments would amalgamate to form a single, large regiment to be named The Rifles. The new regiment, which formed on 1 February 2007, contains five Regular Battalions and two TA Battalions.

The 1st Battalion, The Light Infantry became 5th Battalion, The Rifles
The 2nd Battalion, The Light Infantry became 3rd Battalion, The Rifles
The cap badge of The Rifles is the traditional bugle horn that The Light Infantry had as its cap badge.

The amalgamation described above has been criticised as leading to the disappearance of the Light Infantry as a separate branch of the infantry with its distinctive traditions and history. It is part of a process spread over 2006-2007 aimed at reducing and rationalising the infantry regiments into large multi-battalion units.


The Rifles trace their values and heritage back to the Peninsular War and the time portrayed in the TV series Sharpe.  Then, as today, independence of thought and action were prized amongst the specialist soldiers equipped with rifles who were known as Riflemen. Scroll down for introductory video about The Rifles…

We formed in 2007 from The Devon & Dorset Light Infantry, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire Wiltshire Light Infantry, The Light Infantry and The Royal Green Jackets. 

With five Regular and two TA battalions, The Rifles offer unique, full time (Regular) and spare time (Reservist ) opportunities to acquire skills and to experience a wide range of adventures. If you want respect, independence, friends for life, to learn new skills, excitement and success in later life, we can offer it. 

If you are interested in joining  as a Rifleman, we will prepare you for this adventure with a thorough training package which will help you to make the best of yourself and teach you to meet the challenges of today’s Infantry.


We have the widest range of roles of any infantry regiment and, uniquely, we have a battalion in the Commando Role with 3 Commando Brigade. Other battalions offer armoured infantry in Warrior AFVs, Light Role for jungle and mountain operations and Mechanised in Bulldog AFVs.

Our wide range of roles requires the modern-day Rifleman to master many skills including:  Sniper, Mortar Man, Medic, Anti Tank Guided Weapons Specialist, Driver including HGV and Tracked, Radio Operator, IT Specialist, Combat Engineer, plus a range of people skills and experience transferrable to a successful career later in civilian life.


The Rifles are often on operations and training deployments worldwide including The Falklands, South Georgia, Kosovo, Belize, Iraq and Afghanistan. There are plenty of opportunities for sport and expeditions and in the last 18 months Riflemen have climbed in the Himalayas, skied in the Alps and boxed at National level. To follow what we do in more detail see the news section