MINERS’ BATTALION A History of the 12th (Pioneers) King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry 1914-1918

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This Battalion was formed in Leeds on 5 September 1914 by the West Yorkshire Coal Owners Association. In May 1915 it moved to Ripon and attached as Pioneer Battalion to 31st Division. In December 1915 it moved to Egypt, then went on to France in March 1916. No description of the 1 July 1916 attack on Serre by 31st Division would be complete without mention of the part played by the division’s pioneer battalion, the 12th Bn. King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. The failure of 31st Division’s attack at Serre in the face of overwhelming enemy artillery and machine gun fire is well known. The pioneers went into the attack equipped similarly to the assault infantry, the chief difference being that the pioneers also carried a pick or a shovel, but only 170 – rather than 220 – rounds of ammunition. Between 1 July and 30 November 1917 it was attached to Fifth Army Troops for work on light railways.

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