Beret: Wikis


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A traditional Basque-style beret (with headband folded in).

A beret (pronounced /ˈbɛreɪ/[1] or /bəˈreɪ/;[2] French: [beˈʁɛ]) (Basque: txapel; Spanish and Portuguese: boina) is a soft round cap, usually of wool felt, with a flat crown, which is worn by both men and women and usually associated with France although it is also the traditional headgear of Northern Spain. The beret was also common in other surrounding countries, especially the Low Countries, with precursors extending as far back as the Middle Ages, but its exact origins remain unknown.

Berets are worn by many military and police units, and in some countries are particularly associated with elite units, who often wear berets in more unusual colours, such as the maroon of Commonwealth parachute troops, the German Kommando Spezialkräfte KSK and the Danish Jægerkorpset, the green of the Royal Marines Commandos, French Commandos (Bérets verts), and United States Army's Special Forces (Green Berets), the scarlet of the elite Soviet Internal Troops (Spetsnaz), the beige or tan of Commonwealth special forces units (SAS) and United States Army Rangers, or the wide black of French Chasseurs alpins, the first military unit to have worn berets.


Wearing the beret

The beret fits snugly around the head, and can be "shaped" in a variety of ways – it is commonly pushed to one side in America and Europe. Local custom usually prescribes whof processed felt. It is a direct descendant of the pilus skullcap. Today berets are normally made from woven/hand-knitted wool, wool felt, or acrylic fiber.

Military uniform berets feature a headband or sweatband attached to the wool, made either from leather, silk, or cotton ribbon, sometimes with a drawstring allowing the wearer to tighten the hat. The drawstrings are, according to custom, either tied and cut off/tucked in or else left to dangle. The beret is often adorned with a cap badge, either in cloth or metal. Some berets have a piece of buckram or other stiffener in the position where the badge is intended to be worn.

Berets are not often lined, but a few are, usually partially with satin. In military berets, the headband is worn on the outside; military berets often have external sweatbands of leather, pleather or ribbon. The traditional woolen beret (also worn by selected military units, such as the Belgian Chasseurs Ardennais), usually has the "sweatband" folded in. In such a case, these berets have only an additional inch or so of the same woolen material designed to be folded inward for a more snug fit.

Berets in the military

Berets in other paramilitary organizations

Hong Kong

The navy blue beret is the standard headgear of officers of the Police Tactical Unit of the Hong Kong Police Force. Officers are nicknamed the "Blue Berets" or the "Blue Caps". These berets are also being worn by the officers of the Emergency Unit and the Airport Security Unit of the Hong Kong Police Force.


The Police Cadets, Riot unit and the members of the Special Operations Unit of the National Commissioner of Icelandic Police (Víkingasveitin) wear black berets. High ranking members of the Reykjavík Air Rescue Unit are entitled to wear orange berets.


Dark blue berets are worn by the Polizia di Stato and blue berets by the Polizia Penitenziaria.


Royal Malaysian Police

Dark blue berets with Black Hackle are worn by all the regular aviations of Royal Malaysian Police including Suksis. For paramilitary organizations consisting of General Operations Forces, the berets worn by the units is Dark blue with Khaki Hackle for ceremony, and the paramilitary Senoi Praaq Brigade wear maroon berets also with Khaki Hackle. The dark blue berets with Light Blue Hackle was worn by high school student's Royal Police Cadet Corps. The anti-riot Federal Reserve Units (FRU) wearing the red berets with black hackle. The Marine Operations Force (Malay: Pasukan Gerakan Marin) was worn the Light Blue berets.

The berets also worn by Police Counter-Terrorism Forces, such as operators of Pasukan Gerakan Khas, the main anti-terror special forces. Some sub-division units of the PGKs, including the Special Actions Unit (UTK) wearing the maroon berets and VAT 69 Commandos worned tan (sand) berets, berets which honored by British 22nd Special Air Service. The newly maritime anti-teror special force, known as UNGERIN and United Nations police branch wearing the light blue berets.

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (Coast Guard) operators wear black berets. The specialist force team wearing the Sky Blue Beret, bestowed by the trainer, Royal Malaysian Air Force PASKAU.


Other security organisation like Pertahanan Awam/ Civil Defence, their personnel wear the orange beret and RELA personnel wear the yellow beret.


The Philippine National Police Special Action Force.


The Polish Police Anti-Terrorist Units wear dark blue berets. Dark blue berets are also worn by other Police special units such as pyrotechnics. Polish Border Guards wear light green berets.


The Polícia de Segurança Pública (PSP) Intervention Corps wear navy blue berets, the Personal Security Corps (Corpo de Segurança Pessoal) (VIP bodyguards) wear sky blue berets, CIEXSS teams (explosive disposal) wear black berets, and the PSP Special Operations Group wear emerald green berets.

The Guarda Prisional (Prison Guards) wear black berets.

The members of the paramilitary Rescue Corps of the Portuguese Red Cross wear purple berets.

Until their disbandment in 1975, the Angola and Mozambique paramilitary civil defence volunteers wore black berets.


Black berets were worn by all members of the Singapore Police Force until 1969, when the peaked cap was introduced. The beret was, however, retained for specialist forces, such as officers of the Special Operations Command (SOC) and the Police Coast Guard, as well as the Gurkha Contingent. A dark blue beret is worn, although the Police Tactical Unit of the SOC switched to red berets in 2005. The Gurkha Contingent began wearing khaki-coloured berets from 2006.

Members of the Singapore Civil Defence Force attached to a headquarters element, or on overseas missions, also wear black berets. These are adorned with the SCDF crest, and may sport a flash in certain specialist units, such as the Rescue Dog Unit and the elite Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team.

Auxiliary police officers of Certis CISCO and Aetos Security Management don dark blue berets when performing escort and other high-risk duties, as do specialist forces of the Singapore Prison Service. In addition, student cadets of uniformed youth organizations such as the National Police Cadet Corps and the National Cadet Corps also wear berets of different colours.

South Africa

The Special Task Force of the South African Police Service wear camouflage berets.

South Korea

Several police SWAT teams belonging to different municipalities wear either maroon or green berets; Seoul Metropolitan Police SWAT team (Unit 868) wears maroon berets, while Incheon Metropolitan Police SWAT team (Unit 313) wears green berets.


The Carlist general Tomás de Zumalacárregui in his red beret.

The beret, boina in Spanish or txapela in Basque, where it was especially popular, has been in common usage in Spain for centuries. Some believe it was introduced in the sixteenth century from the Low Countries, which at the time shared the same monarchy. The Chapelgorris (from Basque txapel gorri, "red beret") were a Isabelline troop, but later the red beret became a symbol of Carlism. The red beret became a Falange symbol when Carlism was merged into it after the Spanish Civil War.

Today the Basque police force, Ertzaintza, wears red berets, as did their Miquelete forebears[3]

Sri Lanka

The Special Task Force of the Sri Lanka Police wear green berets. Sri Lanka Army Commandos wear a maroon beret while special forces wear a black beret.

United Kingdom

CO19, the armed response unit of the London Metropolitan Police, used to wear dark blue berets, and were nicknamed the 'Blue Berets'. Today, they generally wear helmets or baseball caps.

The beret as a revolutionary symbol

One of the most famous photographs of Che Guevara taken by Alberto Korda was of him wearing a black beret with a red star. Fidel Castro also wore a beret during his insurgency against the Bautista government of Cuba.[4] In the 1960s several activist groups adopted the beret.

In 1960's pop culture the 1964 television series The Man from UNCLE featured THRUSH troops wearing berets. In the 1967 Bonnie and Clyde (film) actress Faye Dunaway wore a beret to play the role of outlaw Bonnie Parker.[7]

Berets in civilian organizations

Aside from armed forces, berets are associated with a variety of other different organizations.

  • Berets are worn by some scout groups, notably in Hong Kong and Britain, where green berets were once worn, Thailand, where khaki berets are worn and in Poland where berets in different colors are one of few caps . The British and Hong Kong Air Scouts wear blue berets.[citation needed] The official Scouts Canada uniform included a beret between 1968 and 1998 (it was green until 1992, then navy blue). It has made a comeback with the older members in Rover Scouts having adopted the red beret as part of their uniform. The Boy Scouts of America are authorized to wear a red beret, although the BSA itself no longer makes them and very few scout troops or scouts wear them. The Girl Scouts of the USA have worn green berets that often led to members of rival military units reminding the United States Army Special Forces of the fact.
  • In Britain, berets are worn by the Sea Cadet Corps (SCC), Army Cadet Force (ACF), Air Training Corps (ATC) and Combined Cadet Force (CCF). These are in the appropriate service colour, with ACF and CCF Army Section units wearing the beret of the regiment or corps to which they are affiliated. Some Cadet units who are affiliated to the Rifles regiment are permitted to wear the 'Back Badge'. Also the St John Ambulance Cadets of the UK can also wear black berets.
  • Berets are worn by the Royal Canadian Army Cadets. They wear the same color as their affiliated regular force unit, unless there is no affiliated unit, in which case a black beret is worn.[8]
  • Navy blue berets have been the standard headdress of the Royal Canadian Legion as well as other veterans' groups in Canada.[9] Members of the Canadian Merchant Navy Veterans Association wear a blue beret with a white crown.
  • The Guardian Angels have adopted a red beret as a recognizable item of clothing[10]
  • Some security companies in Hong Kong such as Securicor wear berets.
  • Members of the youth committee of the Mexican Red Cross used to wear a red beret, and black berets were worn by parachutists of the same institution. These were phased out in 2006, when a new uniform was issued.
  • Sousaphone players in marching bands typically wear berets because the regular combination cap would get in the way of the bell. All members of the Ohio State University Marching Band wear scarlet berets with a "Diamond Ohio" flash when not wearing their uniform hat (essentially, whenever they are outdoors and not performing).
  • Tuba (and, until 2000, contrabass bugle) players in the Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps wear berets instead of the traditional shako as not to interfere with their instrument.
  • Members of the Civil Air Patrol who attend National Blue Beret (NBB) in Oshkosh, Wisconsin during the EAA AirVenture airshow can earn blue berets along with the Saint Alban's Cross, and the title of Blue Beret. Members of the Indiana Wing who achieve the classification of Ground Team Member level 3 (GTM3)[11] are also awarded blue berets.
  • Members of the Civil Aid Service in Hong Kong were black berets as part of their uniform.
  • In Peru, the Music Band of Colegio San Ignacio de Recalde uses green berets as part of their uniform. Their website is [12]
  • Members of the Assemblies of God boys program Royal Rangers typically wear a beret as a part of their class A and Class B dress uniforms, with specific color and symbols dependent upon the age group.[13]
  • Pathfinders (Seventh-day Adventist) wear a black beret with the badge in the middle; their leaders also use it, but with a different insignia

Other associations

Olentzero, a Basque Christmas figure, wears a beret.

Berets (boinas or chapelas, from Basque txapela) have become the standard headgear of the Castilian gentleman.

In the Basque Country, a commemorative beret is the usual trophy in sport or poetry competitions, including Basque rural sports or the Basque portions of the Tour de France. The Basque word for "champion", txapeldun, literally means "the one in a beret", though the Basque typically use the Spanish term boina to describe the beret.

The beret was once considered the national cap of France and is part of the stereotypical image of the Onion Johnny. It has diminished slightly in popularity. Still considered a matter of French pride, it is worn by both women and men. Black is the traditional color. There are only two manufacturers left in France (the world-famous Hoquy family among them), some in the Spanish Basque Country and Navarra. There remain elsewhere a few fly-by-night manufacturers.

The beret is also a stereotyped trademark of film directors, artists (particularly painters), hipsters, intellectuals, Bohemians, and Beatniks of any nationality.

Schoolgirls often wear berets with their school uniforms. When searching for a suitable style of beret to be worn by the Royal Tank Regiment (RTR), the French Chasseurs alpins was rejected as being too big. The RTR selected a model worn by a Girls' School.

Some British comedians have been identified with the beret. Other entertainment figures identified with the beret include Jamie Hyneman of MythBusters, and Fred Berry who played Rerun in What's Happening!! and What's Happening Now!!. It is said that Groucho Marx wore a beret in order to avoid tipping hat-check girls when he went to restaurants and night clubs.

Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez in red beret and shirt.

Famous people who have worn berets include:

See also


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary (2nd Edition ed.). 1989. 
  2. ^ " Unabridged". Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  3. ^ txapelgorri in the Hiztegia 3000 Basque-Spanish dictionary.
  4. ^ The Hat
  5. ^ p.119 Ogbar, Jeffrey Ogbanna Green Black Power: Radical Politics and African American Identity 2004 JHU Press
  6. ^ Black Berets
  7. ^ Madonna, Che Guevara's Beret, and Teaching Students How to "Read" Graphics
  8. ^ Army Cadet Dress Regulations CATO 46-01
  9. ^ Article in Legion Magazine, Jan-Feb 2006
  10. ^ Guardian Angels website
  11. ^ Indiana Wing's supplement to CAPM39-1
  12. ^ MSN Groups Closure Notice
  13. ^ [1]

External links

Simple English

private wearing a beret]]

A beret is a soft, round type of hat. They are usually made of felt or a similar material. They are often connected with France and the military.

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