British Army & the use of beards........

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by bigjarofwasps, Dec 27, 2009.

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  1. bigjarofwasps

    bigjarofwasps Old-Salt

    Hi Guys,

    Can anyone tell me whether there are any trades/appointments in the current British Army, that require the soldier in that position to wear a beard?

    Also am I right in thinking that the current war in Afghanistan is the first time since the Crimean war that British soldiers have been actively encouraged wear a beard?

    Attached Files:

  2. Pioneer Sergeant / Colour Sergeant in the Scots Guards has always had a beard.
  3. martin7606

    martin7606 Old-Salt

    Pioneer Sgts are generaly allowed to grow a full beard, some units actively encourage it. This is a traditional thing, but I'm not sure of its origins.
  4. Its not actively encouraged, in fact quite the opposite. However circumstances, sometimes necessary, sometimes not so necessary, dictate you will end up with one.

    Also remember a lot of Naval types are kicking around.
  5. North Africa rather famous picture of a SAS patrol alongside David Sitrling all sporting beards.

    Chindit column mule/ pack handler with beard.
  6. Nickhere

    Nickhere Old-Salt

    I believe there are a couple of trades that historically allow people to wear beards, however, policy in Afghanistan is not to grow beards.
  7. Nulli_Boy

    Nulli_Boy War Hero

    So he can be arrse'd to shave his head but not his face,what's that all about then !

    Unless of course he's the pioneer sgt !
  8. bigjarofwasps

    bigjarofwasps Old-Salt

  9. Someone from 74 Bty may correct me on this, but 74 have the honour title "The Battle Axe Company" due to their campaigns in the West Indies (Martinique if memory serves). Traditionally, the tallest man in the Bty carries the Axe and does i believe sport a beard. Although i'm not sure if he grows it specially for the Bty day Feb 24th?
  10. Nickhere

    Nickhere Old-Salt

  11. 4(T)

    4(T) LE

    Pioneer/Farrier Sergeants in many/most regiments have a beard by tradition. Not sure what the origin is, but I think it was a Sudan-war era (British Army seems to have become beard-less in the 1870s) thing to do with battlefield identification - these guys were the ones carrying the axe with which to despatch injured horses and to cut off their right fore hoof (which was numbered) for accounting purposes.

    Since WW1 until recently beards have been banned because of the - apparently - need to have a clean seal with a respirator.
  12. oldnotbold

    oldnotbold War Hero

    I think the tradition of pioneers wearing beards dates back to when they had no time to shave in the morning as they had to leave camp before the rest of the battalion to clear the way for the day's march.

    Not sure that this would apply to farriers who were essentially the head blacksmiths for cavalry: the axes carried are different, with pioneers carrying felling axes to clear trees and undergrowth and farriers' axes having a nasty point to kill injured horses and the blade being used, as said above, to remove a hoof to prove that the horse was dead.

    Beards seem to have survived beyond the Crimea and a fair number were worn during the Zulu war, despite what you saw in the film.
  13. I thought the beards were to protect the face from black powder and splinters when they were blowing their way into castles and the like?
    • Like Like x 1
  14. modwatchdog

    modwatchdog Old-Salt

    Nope, that was the line thrown up by those who still want to grow one. Afghans aren't idiots; they know in western culture that the majority of men shave. In the early days of Herrick 4/5 when water supplies were a really big problem, then of course you didn't shave to save water. Now, bar the most isolated PBs, waetr isn't a problem and UK policy is that all will shave.[/quote]

    The beards which are encouraged in Afghanistan are done so purely as part of a 'warrior cult' that exists within the country. Bearded western males apparently receive greater recognition from their male Afghan counterparts than do those who are clean shaven.
  15. Twice-the-man

    Twice-the-man Old-Salt

    The beards which are encouraged in Afghanistan are done so purely as part of a 'warrior cult' that exists within the country. Bearded western males apparently receive greater recognition from their male Afghan counterparts than do those who are clean shaven.[/quote]

    I was in the OMLT in 2007 and we was encouraged to grow beards when out on the ground with our Afghan charges. Wasn't enforced either way to be fair; the lads who could grow respectable beards did, the ones whose beards strayed down the ginger route (such as myself) shaved. Unsure as to the actual effect of beards on the ANA but can definitely remember an ANA company commander being mentored by a smooth-as-a-baby's bottom one-pipper and just looking at him like he had dropped out of his arrse. The interpreter told me he wouldn't listen to a man who could not grow a beard,