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Post-WWII Scottish Unit Headgear (UK and Commonwealth)

Article about: I have been collecting post-WWII headgear from Scottish units since I attended Aberdeen University as an exchange student in the late 1990s. Since then I have been able to build up a pretty

  1. #81
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    Default 1st Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louiseā€™s) Regiment Glengarry

    Post-WWII Scottish Unit Headgear (UK and Commonwealth)

    I used "Ministry of Defense" instead of "War Department", because I am assuming the glengarry is post-1964, since I only have a broad arrow and the inspector's number. There seems to be some remnants of the manufacture's name, but it is illegible, even when dampened. I have glengarries with similar construction and markings from the 1960s, so I am assuming it is from that time period or later.

    Any feedback would be appreciated.
    Last edited by Reid10; 04-16-2021 at 04:32 PM.

  2. #82

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    Quote by Reid10 View Post
    I should add that the traditions of the 15th are carried on by 4th BN's A Company (Scottish) based in Glasgow. I do not think they wear the diamond-cut Hunting Stewart badge backing on their berets anymore.
    I believe you are correct. 4PARA was always the middle" between 10PARA based in London and 15PARA in Scotland and served central and northern England.

    Para berets are something of an entity in their own right. It isn't quite such a truism these days as much of the "Airborne" homeland has been dispersed away from Aldershot but for many years "The Shot" was very much the home of British Airborne and you would inevitably visit or be stationed there at some point. During the heyday Browning Bks Aldershot was the location of "Depot the Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces" a place that harbours memories of both great pain and elation for many of us!

    Everyone joining the Airborne and especially when passing through P Company at the Depot was issued a typically nasty silk banded beret and then threatened to within an inch of their lives if they ever dreamt of actually wearing it. The protocol was to go directly to Victors of Aldershot in Station Road and purchase a leather banded "Victor beret". Later there was an alternative in the DuBora beret which many considered less stylish but in reality I don't recall much difference.
    Unfortunately Victors is long defunct but I believe Henry Dubora is still trading in the town. In any case the issue beret is now very much the same so I don't know if the private purchase items are as much in demand. Yours of course is a Dubora beret and appears fairly recent.

    The earliest Staybrite badges were anodised aluminium and had a slider. These were the type worn during the ill fated Infantry Brigade system and were still being issued/worn in at least the late '70s. It was neccessary to make your own backing to fit inside the beret but many soldiers just used the blue or green plastic discs they had worn behind the badge on the outside before they had passed P Company.
    Then came an anodised aluminium badge with lugs rather than a slider but still no backing plate.
    The one shown here is the current hard chrome plated metal issued with brass backplate which although it was authorised many years earlier did not enter service unto well into the 21st century.
    It is not unusual to see black Parachute Regiment cap badges used on ops and I think there is an issue black version but most and certainly historically are painted by the soldiers themselves.
    When we were still using the old L1A1 7.62mm SLR it was common to get the armourer to do it (on payment of beer naturally) with Suncorite, a very nasty paint for small arms which contained tricoethylene but was very hard wearing and would last longer than the badge itself!!

    The Dubora type beret and those produced by other tairlors etc are often mistakenly referred to as "officers berets" but they are not. They are worn by all ranks. Similar items in appropriate colours are worn in most regiments.

    I hope this is of interest.
    Last edited by Watchdog; 04-16-2021 at 01:18 PM. Reason: Typo
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

  3. #83
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    Mark,

    I always appreciate learning from someone more knowledgeable and who has been there. I really learned a lot from your post and this is very valuable information for my collecting. I recently started a thread addressing a questionable Scottish para beret I saw. Hopefully you have had a chance to see it.

    I spent time stationed at Fort Bragg, Home of the Airborne, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Or rather my family did. I always seemed to be in the field training for a deployment or deployed. Officers and enlisted in U.S. Airborne units are often issued a defense contracted beret with a leather(ish) band. However, all around Bragg are different military and sew shops selling berets from several manufactures, some of which have the cotton ribbon band. Almost all of these do not have a liner and if they do, they are cut out. Fayetteville is hot and muggy and wearing a wool beret in 100 degree weather and high humidity is rough enough. (Some of my soldiers referred to their beret as, "the oven mitt".) After shaving, shaping and cutting the tag out, there is really not much difference in my opinion, though I don't like the cotton ribbed band. We also switch units every few years, so most just buy a new beret each time they receive a new flash.

    Some of the Special Forces soldiers (green beret) and their support elements (maroon beret), will buy the small crown British berets, if they can get them. However, they can be expensive. I am lucky enough to have a friend stationed in the UK who hooked me up. The American berets tend to have a lot more fabric. When I was in the 82nd Airborne Division, you would cut the backing inside the beret behind the flash (unit patch) down to the size of the flash, soak the beret (after shaving it inside and out) in as hot a water as you can stand, put it on and hold the flash backing in your left hand while pulling the fabric down hard to your right ear with the opposite hand. Then you wear it until it dries, forming to your head. You would often see troopers with the excess material at or even below their ear.

    When the U.S. adopted the black beret (or rather took it from the Rangers), the result was a disaster, at least when it came to proper wear. I saw soldiers with it completely unshaped and unshaved, looking like pizza chef's hat, on the back of their head, not level and two fingers above the bridge of the nose, etc. When I was not in an airborne unit, I spent a decent amount of time with soldiers teaching them how to properly shape their beret. However, I have been lucky to spend 80% of my time in airborne units. Of course my beret spends a lot of time in my cargo pocket since we do not wear them indoors or in the field. I have a nice, soft, crushed-down, salty patrol cap for the field.

    Each of the units has a distinctive patch (flash) they wear on the beret designed by our Institute of Heraldry. Enlisted soldiers wear their unit's Distinctive Unit Insignia (unit crest) on the flash, while officers wear non-subdued rank on theirs.

    We of course "borrowed" our maroon berets from the British, but I believe it was only in the 1970s that it became official to wear for airborne units. In the 1970s, to improve morale, several different colored berets were worn by soldiers, officially and unofficially. Unfortunately it got out of hand and was stopped. Now only five are authorized; green (Special Forces), maroon (airborne), tan (Rangers) brown (Security Force Assistance Brigade), and black (other army units).

    The Airforce also has berets, but I am not as familiar with their headgear.

    Thank you again for your post, Mark. You gave me a lot of things to put into my collecting knowledge kitbag. Very much appreciated.

    Now if we can only confirm/deny the RHF TOS...

    Regards,

    Reid
    Last edited by Reid10; 04-16-2021 at 04:30 PM.

  4. #84

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    Quote by Reid10 View Post
    Post-WWII Scottish Unit Headgear (UK and Commonwealth)

    I used "Ministry of Defense" instead of "War Department", because I am assuming the glengarry is post-1964, since I only have a broad arrow and the inspector's number. There seems to be some remnants of the manufacture's name, but it is illegible, even when dampened. I have glengarries with similar construction and markings form the 1960s, so I am assuming it is from that time period or later.

    Any feedback would be appreciated.
    I believe you are correct, glengarry caps are very difficult to date precisely beyond saying WWI, WWII, post war etc as the design and materials have changed hardly at all as is visible to the naked eye so it does come down to markings. The Staybrite badge does a lot to date the piece but only really in giving an "earliest date". The black and white picture holds clues such as the L1A1 SLR, the trousers lightweight and what look like the N.Ireland issue Boots Urban Patrol so somewhere in the late '70s but if that is a shirt GS rather than shirt combat it's probably early '80s. The coloured pic of the bandsman (probably drummer) is post '62 becase of the GSM (General Service Medal 1962 - 2007 so could be as late as 2006 when RRS was formed) and in both images the glengarry looks identical to earlier examples.

    I first became aware of the "Argyles" as a small boy at the very begining of the '70s (or was it earlier?) when my father regaled me with tales of Lt Col Colin "Mad Mitch" Mitchell the CO who led the Bn to reoccupy the Crater in Aden in '67 (Quote Lt Col Mitchell; "I have no compunction in saying that if some chap starts throwing grenades or starts using pistols, we shall kill him." The politicians didn't like that then and it would get you sacked today! However he achieved his aim with only one Jock lost) When the regiment was threatened with disbandment there was a public campaign in England (yep that's right) to "Save The Argyles"). I also recall that within the regiment their sporran, with reference to the tassles was known as "The Swinging Six".
    In 1979 at the Edinburgh Tatoo the regimental mascot a Shetlamd Pony called Cruachan was with his handler found to be drunk and was jailed by an outraged WRAC Captain. It was of course the handler who was the offender but the pony couldn't be put anywhere else and it made for a cracking tale!!A pony in a cell, I ask you!
    Nothing to do with the glengarry cap of course just more of my favourite "padding" for the thread.
    As for interest in the Argyles may I suggest reading "Mad Mitch's Tribal Law" by Aaron Edwards. A good read for anyone interested in the history but required reading for a soldier who understands on a different level!

    Regards

    Mark
    Last edited by Watchdog; 04-16-2021 at 04:30 PM. Reason: Typo
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

  5. #85

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    Quote by Reid10 View Post

    Now if we can only confirm/deny the RHF TOS...
    It's in the wind mate!

    I want the answer as much as you do

    Mark
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

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