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Wwii british berets traits and construction

Article about: INTRODUCTION Over the last few years with the increasing rarity and value of all WWII berets they are being increasingly faked / reproduced etc in order to get your hard earned money out of

  1. #1
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    Default WWII British berets traits and construction

    INTRODUCTION
    Over the last few years with the increasing rarity and value of all WWII berets they are being increasingly faked / reproduced etc in order to get your hard earned money out of your hands with this in mind I have started this thread in a hope that this will not all ways be the case and it helps to stop the practice .
    It will cover at 1st the Kangol Wear Limited war time berets , their construction methods , markings , WD year stamps etc and working its way through the other makers with this in mind PLEASE DO NOT ADD TO THIS THREAD as it will take a while to get it 100% any concerns please pm or email me ANY UNWANTED POSTS WILL BE REMOVED its going to be there to help you !!! Steve
    Last edited by ASR142; 10-07-2014 at 08:21 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Kangol wear limited berets ( kangol )

    Roughly during 1935/6 KANGOL WEAR LIMITED BERETS ( KANGOL ) imported a beret making machine from France as they where a fasion icon of the time .This machine had a particular pattern of weaving starting in the middle of the beret a small knot would start the process as the weave got bigger it would create a circular spiral going in an anti-clock wise motion ( this is the same for all WD issue berets from WWII ) this is the outer part crown ( top ) part of the beret ( I reckon that if the spiral was to do a complete circle it would be about 12 ft wide ) These spirals disappear in post war examples and turn into complete circles a major item to look for this change took place with kangol during the 1951-52 period .
    when the beret outer had reached the size required IE 6 3/4 the machine would stop adding more stitches and do 4-5 turns approximately the same to create a slight edge to the beret it would then remove stitches making the spiral turn in the opposite direction creating the brim of the beret once the size was reached the machine would then do a series of turns to mak a slight ridge ( the part where the leather trim would be attached to ) this makes the leather trim stand up proud of the brim at about 1.5 cm this completes the outer section of the beret.

    The 1st picture shows the 4 main colors that where used during the war
    MAROON for airborne forces
    GREEN for commando forces
    GREEN / BROWN FOR Officers , mounted infantry units & Reconnaissance corps ( note I have not seen an example earlyer than the 43 dated than the one shown )
    BLACK for for Royal Tank corps and RAC units
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    The 2nd , 3rd and 4th show the important pattern to look for in Kangol's war time production berets
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    THE 5th and 6th pictures show how the leather band tends to stand up when looking at good condition examples .
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    Last edited by ASR142; 10-09-2014 at 12:28 AM.

  3. #3
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    Default Kangol wear limited berets ( kangol )

    The inside part of the beret is made roughly in the following way
    1 The inner is printed out in one stage a round circle , 2 broken diamonds and makers name date and arrow all done at the same time the location of this is always the same although the stamping's change slightly as re inking takes place .Click image for larger version. 

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    2nd picture The outer large broken circle creates the inner stitched edge the 2 diamonds are for an internal diamond peace of cloth to be stitched to keep it in place as a reinforcement for the crown unlike some modern berets the inner crown is in no way attached to the outer crown of the beret allowing it to be shaped as required .
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    The size of the beret is only determined by the size of the woven outer section at a later stage as they can be used for any beret 1 size fits all saves materials during construction .
    the size stamp is all ways hand applied at the end of construction and is very rarely in the same place let alone the same way up
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    Something to note here is the way round the stamping is its all ways the same way round it never changes this ensures that when the leather trim is applied it starts and finishes in the same place to the rear of the beret , Kangol leather trim is a straight but to but join with the ribbon tie making its slight out of shape on the used examples
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    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by ASR142; 10-01-2014 at 10:50 AM.

  4. #4
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    Default Kangol wear limited berets ( kangol ) liners

    The inner brim is made using 2 peaces of shaped cloth which are stitched to the inner crown part of the beret this is all ways done in the same way the stitching is hidden in-between the lining and the woven part of the beret ( reattached liners are some times left with a join the wrong way round which is not shown in pictures on ebay image 5) .
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    The inner brim is attached to a stiffening peace of hessian material near the edge by a lose tacking ( The black thread around the inside of the beret ) The leather trim is then attached to the this part of the beret creating the 1st row of stitching on the inside of the beret .
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    The leather band is then folded over the edge of the beret outer and then stitched in place creating the 2nd row of stitching ( the one in the middle of the lose tacking and top row of stitching ) which goes through all of the layers of the beret at this point I can only presume that the ribbon is attached by a curved large blunt needle which would be slotted through the beret leather trim in a turning motion in 1 easy step and cut then tied of tied of .
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    A major point to note here is that KANGOL produced liners in 2 colors during the years 1945-46 there is nothing wrong with these at all and tend not to get faked a good choice for a 1st purchase of an airborne units beret they also tend to be a bit cheaper the example below is a 1945 dated example issued to the SAS during the late 40's early 50's .
    A good trait of the kangol made berets which can be clearly seen here is the way in which the diamond is one continuous line of stitching crossing over its self twice .
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    Last edited by ASR142; 10-26-2014 at 09:45 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default Kangol wear limited berets ( kangol )

    The last stage of the construction is the application of the 2 eye holes and eyelets and leather protector the eyelets are put in place at exactly the same place at 9 o'clock always the same distance from the edge of the beret these are normally the same set of colors for the berets
    Black for Airborne berets , RAC & RTR BERETS and Commando berets
    Tan for the mounted infantry and reconnaissance corps units ( not airborne units )
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    The eyelets are fixed by a small washer placed over the rear of them and then squashed these go through all of the layers of the beret a leather protector is then placed over the eyelets and hand tacked in place . Often it is found over the black thread around the inside of the beret there is nothing wrong with this if encountered.
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    The leather can shrink and become detached but signs of it being there are important in identifying fakes
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    Last edited by ASR142; 10-09-2014 at 11:26 AM.

  6. #6
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    Default Kangol wear limited berets ( kangol ) W D STAMPS

    The size stamps are done by hand and are generally in the top section of the diamond and done quickly and never seam to match locations and are never printed at the same time as the rest of the internal markings . See 1st post .
    The WD inspectors stamp is all ways on the internal part of the brim and never on the inside crown section how ever it has been known to over lap slightly the letter codes help to work out the year of the beret when the other markings are very faint these are as follows

    1937 = T
    1938 = S
    1939 = R ALSO A PLAIN W/l\D
    1940 = Q ALSO A PLAIN W/l\D
    1941 = P
    1942 = O
    1943 = N
    1944 = M OR Z
    1945 = L OR Z ALSO A PLAIN W/l\D
    1946 = K + SEE BERET INDUSTRIES WITH 1946 & A Z
    1947 = J , R MAY BE A LATE 1947
    1948 = I , R
    1949 = A
    1950 = B
    1951 = B & C
    1952 = C / D
    1953 = J
    1954 = M & O
    1955 = S & T POSS LATE 55 & CHECKED IN 1956
    1956 = T
    DATE CODES NOTE THE N IS INVERTED TO SHOW THE LAST BATCH IN A CONTRACTED NUMBER DURING 1944 - 1945 A PLANE WD STAMP HAS BEEN NOTED FOR DIFFERENT YEARS
    ITS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT THE MOST COMMON POST WAR DATED BERET IS M FOR 1954 AND AS THIS MATCHES THE 1944 DATE AS WELL ITS THESE THAT ARE OFTEN THE ONES THAT ARE CHANGED OVER TO A 44 DATED EXAMPLES AS THEY TEND TO CHANGE THE 5 IN 54 ONLY HOW EVER THE WD STAMP LOCATION IS WRONG FOR WAR TIME BERETS

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    Last edited by ASR142; 10-02-2014 at 10:29 PM.

  7. #7
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    Default North african made sas berets

    A few months back a friend of mine was lucky enough to purchase a group of 3 WWII berets from a car boot sale these are probably some of the most important berets to appear on the market scene for quite some time .
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    The 1st example has no visible markings to it at all its construction is very crude to say the least.
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    The weave pattern is in complete circles starting in the middle these get larger until the edge of the brim then they are the same for a few sizes and the get smaller thus creating the brim of the beret then they stay the same size and create a rise at the edge of the beret .
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    The internal black cloth lining is made out of two peaces of martial its stiched to the inner brim and the iner brim part is pulled together with various over lapping sections folds which are held in place by the leather band stitching.
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    This as with all of the war time kangol berets has a inner peace of material cloth which is stitched down with a single diamond shape with a line of stitches going through the middle. the eyes are very basic being only the eyelets with no washer or leather trim to the inside the leather band hold the inner and out sections together and is hand stitched in place with a ribbon again through the middle in relation to the Kangol made examples its a very basic made beret .
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    The picture below shows the inner piece of material through the tinny hole.
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    Foot note the badge is a 44 period example most likely applied to it when Lieutenant Colonel Robert Blair "Paddy" Mayne DSO & Three Bars decide That he would allow the original guys that where still around to wear there original sand / beige berets during 1944 as when they arrived in the UK they had to go over to the aribrone forces maroon examples , note the way the badge is worn at a very sharp angle which again is a sign of one of the original members of the SAS.
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    Last edited by ASR142; 10-03-2014 at 12:39 AM.

  8. #8
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    Default North African made sas berets continued

    The 2nd of the SAS berets is made completely different to the other example its typically a kangol style beret but locally made with different construction methods used most likely a direct copy of a kangol black beret borrowed from a unwilling source while the sas had their base camp near Cairo.
    The weave pattern is virtually the same spiral shape but done in a finer weave again starting in the middle and working its way out follows the same pattern as the kangol made berets .
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    The black lining has a single diamond stitching pattern again with a horizontal strip retaining a diamond piece of material between the out and inner sections its made of a round circular disc of material which is stitched to 2 shaped bands of black material .
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    The leather trim has a tacking stitch all the way round it and then folded over the outer woven part of the beret and then machine stitched in place only once. Its a straight edge to edge join meeting at the rear of the beret there is no 3rd layer of stiffening material to the brim of the beret .
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    The eye holes are just put through the 2 layers with no washer to the under side the leather tab which again hand stitched in place. there are no offical markings to this beret as it was a none authorized item of head dress this example had when 1st seen a brass cast badge lost between waiting to pay and collect with other bits from the house clearance chap which did not materialize. ( )
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    Last edited by ASR142; 10-07-2014 at 09:13 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default WWII Royal Navy ( RN ) & ROYAL MARINE ( RM ) BERETS

    WWII Royal Navy ( RN ) & ROYAL MARINE ( RM ) Berets are made to Admiralty regulations which are completely different to the War Office made examples this is shown well in the 1st 2 pictures below the 1st difference is the shape note how its far wider the brim is at 3 & 9 O'clock at 3 o'clock its almost 3 times the distance and 9 o'clock is almost twice the distance than the front and rear of the berets the arch is very prominent and distinctive. I have seen these being advertised as black RTR OR RAC berets for sale on the internet with added WD stamps.

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    In the pictures below note how the beret appears to be stretched out in a rugby ball shape this is common trait with the RN contracted berets. The lose tacking stitch is not present this has been replaced with a machine stitched line ( Bottom row of stitching in the picture ) this attaches the iner layer of material . This is done before the leather trim is applied in the same way as the kangol wear examples listed above .

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    The internal brim band is 1 piece of material cut to the same shape as the brim of the beret this is then stitched to the internal crown section of the beret and has its seam at the rear of the beret.
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    At 2 o'clock there is an added hand stitched half moon reinforced piece added to help support the badge ( Always check to see if this has been removed from the beret signs of it will show up)
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    The leather trim's join is the same as all other beret industries examples which is a over lapping join done at 45 degrees and stitched in place .

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    There is again the double row of stitching which retains the internal diamond shaped piece of material in place . Which has the makers details , date and government arrow .
    There is never a war department WD Date stamp on the Admiralty purchased items as its a different department .

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    The eyelets do not have the leather rectangle fixed to the rear of them which allows the way in which they fasten to be clearly seen the small securing washer with the folded over eyelet .
    Keep an eye out for fake leather rectangles which can be added as the value for a rn beret is about half or just over half the cost of a black war time examples.
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    This example is a 1945 dated Kangol made example Which I found to day ( 26/10/14 ) in a dealers 5 box it was extremely grubby but I could see the chaps number and by using a very mild shampoo it cleaned up very well in cold water where I could make out the date better and makers name .

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    The arrows show the following top to bottom
    1st size stamp
    2nd makers details
    3rd government arrow
    4th date

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    It's woven in the same style as the WD made examples the liner is again a set size being adjusted later during the manufacture and hand sized stamped when finished ( its a size 7 ) note the way the diamonds are stitched around ( see post 4 ) which helped to id the maker .

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    The inner brim is made of 2 shaped peaces of material keeping to the Admiralty pattern being much wider and narrower in places how ever the general shape of the beret is round rather than the rugby ball shape made by the other makers .

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    The red tombstone is hand stitched in place normally by the Royal Marine whose beret it belongs to .
    The padding behind the badge area is machine stitched in place using a wide potato sack style stitching in a diagonal direction . as with other Admiralty examples there is no backing cloth to the eyelets which are at the 9 o'clock position

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    Last edited by ASR142; 10-26-2014 at 10:56 PM.

  10. #10
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    Default A WWII period Royal Marine Commando berets

    This example has the normal shape encountered to the WD berets how ever it has the small stitched on label to the center this example appears to be a Beret industries made example going by the distinctive diamond ( smaller than the other makers ) again as with all Admiralty purchased berets there is no WD stamping to it.

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    The little label would have had the procurement / contract number on it which is machine stitched in place and sometimes the date this example is named to a P E Clarke . As with all admiralty berets there is a backing section behind the badge area. It would have had a metal badge looking at the marks that remain to the rear .

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    The brim band is again a 2 section item and the eyelets have the leather rectangle to the inside.
    The leather trim is the over lapping type and is stitched in place by the standard method .
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    A point I must add here is that the royal marine commandos did also get issued WD berets as well especially when they army commando units where disbanded in 1946 and there stocks where handed over to them which saw this color of beret no longer being worn by army personal just the veterans who kept theirs .


    !!!!! Do not add to this thread see introduction steve !!!!!
    Last edited by ASR142; 10-23-2014 at 10:38 PM.

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