Miners' Battalion

A History of the 12th (Pioneers) King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry 1914–1918

Malcolm Keith Johnson

Date Published :
June 2017
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Illustration :
50 illustrations
No associated books available.


‘The true nature and functions of a pioneer battalion were never fully understood during the war either by military or laymen. “Pioneers … pioneers,” mused a red-hatted Staff Captain to me the other day. “Sort of labor battalion, aren’t you?” “We sure are!” I agreed.’ These words, written by Captain R. Ede England, who served with 12th King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry during the whole of the Great War, are as true today as they were when he wrote the original history of the battalion in the early 1920s.

Little is known, or understood, of the contribution made by the many thousands of men who served with the original Pioneer battalions. Building and repairing roads, bridges, railway lines, gun emplacements, and laying barbed wire to protect the Front Line, were just some of the tasks that they performed on a regular basis. Fortunately, the subject of the British Army’s logistical support in the war zone during the new industrialized warfare that developed between 1914 and 1918 is now being examined in greater detail.

Miners’ Battalion, A History of the 12th (Pioneers) King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry 1914-1918 follows the battalion throughout the war and shows how the men, mainly Yorkshire miners, applied their civilian skills to the purposes of war. It also reveals that in 1918, when forced to fight as infantrymen, the battalion performed with distinction, gaining the nickname, 'the Yorkshire Guards'.

About The Author

Malcolm K. Johnson has researched the history of the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) for over thirty years. In two published works he explored the experiences of a Volunteer battalion, and its Territorial battalions, who were ill-prepared for the industrialised warfare of 19141918\. A third book examined the social effect of that war on an ordinary Yorkshire family. He has published a photographic history of KOYLI, 1857-1968, and the final volume of the Regiments History, 1945-1968\. He has an MA degree from the University of Birmingham in First World War Studies.


"Malcolm's stories are engaging, interesting and sometimes heart breaking, but always very readable."

- Books Monthly, June 2017

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