The 1st Battalion sailed on the Majestic about 13th December 1899, arrived at the Cape about the 30th, and was at once sent round to Durban. Along with the 2nd Royal Lancaster Regiment, 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers, and 1st South Lancashire Regiment, they formed the 11th Brigade under Major General Woodgate, and part of the Vth Division under General Sir Charles Warren. The work of the brigade is sketched under the 2nd Royal Lancaster, and that of the Natal Army generally under the 2nd Queen's, Royal West Surrey.
At Venter's Spruit the York and Lancaster had heavy fighting, chiefly on 20th January, when they had 3 officers wounded, 10 men killed, and about 100 wounded.
The battalion was not on Spion Kop, but on that day they had about 10 men wounded.
In the feint attack on Brakfontein, 5th February, the battalion got rather close, their losses being 1 killed and 21 wounded.
After Vaal Krantz the Lancashire Fusiliers and York and Lancaster remained at Frere and Springfield to protect the British left and rear; this battalion was brought back to the main army in time to take part in the final and successful assault on the Boer position between the Tugela and Ladysmith. Their losses were comparatively light.
The York and Lancaster had Lieutenant Colonel W J Kirkpatrick and 7 other officers and 6 non-commissioned officers and men mentioned in despatches for work in the relief operations, 1 sergeant getting the distinguished conduct medal.
The battalion having come north from Ladysmith with the remainder of the division, was present at the taking of Botha's Pass and the battle of Alleman's Nek. Thereafter for a time they guarded the railway, and then were chiefly employed about the north of Natal and the south-east of the Transvaal.
The battalion remained a long time about Volksrust, Wakkerstroom, Ingogo, and Utrecht. They frequently had some fighting, and several times had most arduous work taking out convoys to the columns working to the Swazi and Zululand borders. A good account of this work is given in the published war record of the regiment. In the memorable defence of Fort Itala, 26th September 1901 (see 2nd Royal Lancaster), the battalion was represented and shared the glory, the regiment losing 4 killed and 14 wounded.
In January 1902 the battalion was employed under Brigadier General Bullock in erecting a line of blockhouses from Botha's Pass to Vrede, which they garrisoned till the close of the war.
The Mounted Infantry company of the York and Lancaster Regiment saw an immense deal of work, commencing in the Orange River - De Aar district. They were present at Paardeberg, Sannah's Post, Ian Hamilton's engagements, Diamond Hill, and the pursuit of De Wet in July and August 1900.
In General Buller's final despatch of 9th November 1900. 6 officers and 3 non-commissioned officers were mentioned. In Lord Roberts' final despatch 11 officers and 17 non-commissioned officers and men were mentioned. Two non-commissioned officers were mentioned by Lord Kitchener in his despatch of 8th March 1901. and in his final despatch the names of 4 officers and 5 non-commissioned officers and men were added.