Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A beret (UK: , US: [bəˈɹeɪ]; IPA) is a soft round cap with a flat crown which is worn by both men and women. The cap fits snugly around the head, and the soft crown can be shaped in a variety of ways – it is commonly pushed to one side. Berets were originally worn by Northern Basque peasants and were knitted from wool. Today berets are normally made from wool felt.
Berets are associated with a variety of different people. A beret completes the image of the stereotypical Frenchman (even though berets are fairly rare in France nowadays) or French peasants; artists, painters and intellectuals. It also was the stereotypical headgear of film directors until it was replaced in the public eye with the baseball cap in the 1980s. It also became the standard headgear of the Castilian peasant.
Berets in the military
Berets are a part of certain military uniforms, such as those of the British Armed Forces and the United States Army. Berets are traditionally worn by those in armoured fighting vehicles. Light blue berets are worn by United Nations Peacekeeping forces. Military berets are usually pulled to the right, but the militaries of some European countries (including France) and countries they have influenced pull them to the left.
- Maroon - jump qualified personnel in parachute units
- Black - Armoured units
- Scarlet - Military Police
- Rifle green - other Army units
- Navy blue (almost black) - Navy
- Blue - Air Force
- Orange - Search and Rescue Technicians
Spain and the Basque Country
The beret, boina in Spanish or txapela in Basque, was introduced into Spain during the First Carlist War. Carlists wore red berets (txapelgorri in Basque, which later also came to mean "Carlist soldier") and Isabellines white ones. 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.
The beret is used in the various armed forces of Sweden. The colours used are:
- Black (formerly dark blue) - Armoured units
- Maroon - Paratroopers
- Bright red - Musicians
- Green - Rangers
- Green (formerly dark blue) - Amphibious troops
- Blue - Army aviation
- Sand - foreign
- Brown - Home Guard
- Dark blue - All other units
The beret is used in the various armed forces of Thailand. The colours used are:
- Maroon - Paratroops, Special Forces
- Khaki green - Army Reserve Force Students
- Black - all other Army units, Air Force, Thahan Phran, Paratroop Police, Border Patrol Police
- Camouflage - Royal Thai Marine Corps
The black beret is also worn by ordinary police in certain situations.
The British Army were the first to adopt modern-style berets as part of their uniform. In 1918, the French 70th Chasseurs Alpins were training with the British Tank Corps. The Chasseurs Alpins wore a distinctive large beret and Major-General Sir Hugh Elles , the TC's Colonel, realised that the beret would be practical headwear for his tank crews, forced to move in a reduced space. He thought, however, that the Chasseur beret was "too sloppy" and the Basque style beret of the French tank crews was "too skimpy", so a compromise based on the Scottish tam o'shanter was designed and submitted for the approval of George V in November 1923. It was adopted in March 1924.
Today, every British military unit wears a beret, with the exception of Scottish and Irish line infantry regiments, who wear the tam o'shanter and the caubeen respectively (the Scots Guards and Irish Guards, however, wear berets). Many of these berets are in distinctive colours and all are worn with the cap badge of the service, regiment or corps.
The colours are as follows:
- Khaki - Foot Guards, Household Cavalry, Honourable Artillery Company, Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, Royal Anglian Regiment, Green Howards
- Light grey - Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps
- Brown - King's Royal Hussars
- Black - Royal Tank Regiment
- Dark (Rifle) green - Light Infantry, Royal Green Jackets, Royal Gurkha Rifles
- Maroon - Parachute Regiment, other troops serving in airborne role (not necessarily jump qualified)
- Beige - Special Air Service
- Sky blue - Army Air Corps
- Grass green - Intelligence Corps
- Scarlet - Royal Military Police
- Green - Adjutant General's Corps
- Navy blue - all other Army units (except Scottish and Irish line infantry regiments), Royal Navy, Royal Marines Band Service
- Commando green - Royal Marines (except Band Service), other commando-qualified troops
- RAF blue - Royal Air Force (including RAF Regiment)
The Royal Tank Regiment, Army Air Corps, Parachute Regiment and SAS never wear any other form of uniform headgear except the beret (i.e. they do not wear peaked caps). Troops from other services, regiments or corps on attachment to units with distinctive coloured berets often wear those berets (with their own cap badge). Colonels, brigadiers and generals usually continue to wear the beret of the regiment or corps to which they used to belong with the cap badge distinctive to their rank. The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and Royal Welch Fusiliers wear a coloured feather hackle on the beret.
The United States Army Special Forces are generally known as "green berets" for the color of their headgear. Other US Army units can also be distinguished by the color of their headgear, as follows:
Berets were originally worn only by elite units of the US Army. Hence, there was controversy when in 2001 the United States Army adopted the black beret, previously reserved for the Rangers, as standard headgear for all army units. The Rangers are now distinguished by brown berets.
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