Can anybody settle a mess argument for me and my buddy. Not sure how we ended up on this subject but I know we had both had several pints.

What are the regulations regarding Beards in the Army. Can Pioneers have beards or is it a myth?

As a New recruit to the infantry in 1994 I was told that facial hair was not allowed as it prevents a respirator making a good seal with the skin but this is probably bollocks as the Navy are allowed beards (some of the sailors I've seen have them anyway.)

I have searched through queens regs but cannot find a relevent section.

Can anyone shed a bit of light here? :?:
I remeber a pioneer Sgt about 10 years ago who had one, I don't know if he was excused shaving for some medical reason or if he was allowed one being a Pioneer SNCO, I have never seen anyone since with one though.

As a point of geekiness Navy are not allowed a tash on it's own - they have to have a full beard or nothing, although most of them seem to have sideburns that drag on the floor ! (Something to do with Queen Victoria).
But why on earth would anyone WANT a beard................

I believe Pioneer Sgts were, something to do with In the days when they got up before the sun rise and it was to dark to shave, they were excused it, i only know this as my Great uncle was a Pioneer sgt (and now a chelsea pensioner), and i believe i read somewhere recently that they were actually "improperly" dressed for parade if they didn't have one, although donn't quote me on that!

although i think a Tash is allowed but you are given a set timescale to grow one!!

I stand corrected if anyone knows different on what i have said


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Pioneer Sgts wearing a full set of whiskers goes back to the French pioneers who used to guard the imperial eagles.

On a similar vein the Battleaxe Man (tallest man in the Battery) of 74 Battery (The Battleaxe Company) is entitled to wear the whiskers as well because he carries a captured French battle axe on parade.

I believe the Navy can wear beards because on board ships they are hermatically sealed in and so don't need to wear respirators.
As for the Navy......

I thought it was just submariners who were allowed to grow beards whilst at sea as they have their own air supply?

Or is it more likely that biological or chemical agents can't hang around at sea in the same way as it can on land?

Any other ideas or urban myths :?:
Navy can wear a "full set" but surface pers must shave it off when deploying to a War Zone.

There is a photo in one of the many books I have read .Showing a private soldier in WW II - sorry I cannot remember the name of the book or the Pvt.


the caption that went with it was as I recall...

Pvt Smith of the KLSI showing the 'full set' he has Royal approval to have as, during an inspection by H.M the King, Pvt Smith requested from His Majesty permission to wear a full set
Always wanted to meet the Princess Royal and ask her for permission myself.
Poppy said:
But why on earth would anyone WANT a beard................

I have to agree with poppy. Why would anyone want one? The David Blunkett look is extremely dated and, to me anyway, gives a certain "nonce case" impression.

On my first posting to NI, the only people in the entire country with long hair and facial hair were squaddies. I hope the rules stay as they are, god forbid the're relaxed - we'll end up looking like the Dutch army which looks like a force manned entirely by charvers :wink:

Poppy said:
But why on earth would anyone WANT a beard................

Quite right - I totally agree. A beard gives one's face a most unsoldierlike countenance. Not so the big moustach that many of us sport.

thanks for the replies guys - there have been interesting some interesting posts here.


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Poppy said:
But why on earth would anyone WANT a beard................

What's wrong with them Poppy ? I don't have one myself but I know many fine women who do.

Micky_Dees said:
As for the Navy......

I thought it was just submariners who were allowed to grow beards whilst at sea as they have their own air supply?

this is true, my father was a Submariner and he had a full set when he was a sea and ashore
I don't know what current regulations are, but at one time Pioneers, some Engineers, and Pipers could grow beards.
Permission had to be granted, and beard growth monitored, over a specified time. All shaving was to stop ( no trimming up of neck etc).
scraggly or thin beards were denied.

Beards could be grown for medical reasons, but even this was rare.
I remember one WO who had a beard, and respirator fitting was a problem. He had to use Vaseline on the beard for the respirator to seal. Not very practical or convenient.

For the Navy a sailor was to request permission, and beard growth was monitored. Again beards had to be full, with all shaving stopped. scraggly or thin beards were denied.
Father always told me that two things that should never be trusted are;

A chap wearing a beard and a woman with a better moustache than oneself. Over the years I have found this to be good advice.
I saw a recent photograph of the Pipe Major and the Pioneer Sergeant of 1st Bn The King's Own Scottish Borderers sporting beards so I guess the tradition lives on, at least in Scottish Regiments.

I recall, while on operations in Borneo in the mid 1960s, our Pioneer Sergeant, sporting a luxuriant red beard, being given appraising looks by some old former head hunting Kayan tribesmen. Much to his discomfort!

The practice of allowing Pipe Majors and Pioneer Sergeants to sport beards is, to quote an expression often used by Ray Huggins when he was the Academy Sergeant Major of RMA Sandhurst. "Steeped in history and tradition the reason lost in the mists of time". Although it probably only goes back to the Crimean War.
I was told on good authority that the Pioneer SNCO would have to get up first, in darkness, and get all the camp fires going to prepare the water for everyone else. Therefore he couldn't shave and the tradition was born. For reference it has just been brought back into the Australian Army to have the full set for the Pioneer Sgt.

Referring to beards and respirators, well I have worked with conehead scientists on live 'stuff' and they had no problem, we asked them about it and they said it was not a problem as long as a seal was made. The only way to really test it, without fcucking copping it. is to do the proper ressy test in the tent thingy!!!!

Well it's a fcukin gas eh?
Without looking it up, but I will confirm it later, the British Army used to be clean shaven up until the Crimean War when Units could not shave due to the general situation. It was at this time that Army was then allowed to grow facial hair to something along the following lines.

"Neck to be shaved, 2 inches of bottom lip and either side of mouth to be shaved."

This then gives rise to the classic chops and beards of the Victorian era.

It goes with my theory about military facial hair and the size of the Army and Empire.
No taking the p*ss, me with beard in about 1986

dunno, but some of 'em look kinda girlie.

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