From its beginnings as a Roman garrison almost 2000 years ago to the establishment of Royal Air Force bases in the 20th century, Doncaster’s history is grounded in more than just horse racing, coal and rail.
Between 1644-1903 many army regiments and militia from around the United Kingdom were garrisoned in Doncaster or encamped within the town limits for a few days on their route to elsewhere.
The 23rd Regiment of Foot and their womenfolk were quartered in Doncaster between 1784 and 1786 after fighting in the American War of Independence. Whilst here children were born and baptised, and single men courted and married local women. The parish registers of Doncaster St George reflect these aspects of their lives on home soil.
The King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry has a long and varied history which is tied to the town of Doncaster. The Regiment first came into existence in 1755, as the 53rd Regiment. It changed names many times and in 2007 merged with other regiments to become The Rifles
Although the regiment has a long association with Doncaster, the traditional recruiting area was throughout the old West Riding of Yorkshire, which is now West and South Yorkshire.
Throughout the regiment’s history they served all over the world and were involved in many major battles, campaigns and wars including the Battle of Waterloo, the Boer War, the First World War and the Second World War.
The K.O.Y.L.I regimental museum is located within Doncaster Museum and houses the official collection of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, including one of the most extensive medal collections in the country.
The Museum also offers a paid research service looking into soldiers who served in the regiment.
The King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry isn’t the only regiment with a strong connection to Doncaster. Within Doncaster Minster, there is a memorial to the men of the Queen’s Own Yorkshire Dragoons (QOYD) that were killed in the First World War.
The Doncaster 1914-18 project, run by Heritage Doncaster and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, commemorates the centenary of the First World War with a community heritage website, events and exhibitions across Doncaster. Share you or your family’s First World War story on their website.
You can find out more about Doncaster’s military history with Doncaster Archives and Local Studies. Their collections include parish records, military indexes. centuries of local newspapers, and books, ephemera, and publications relating to the Doncaster’s military past.