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The Army is finally catching up with the Navy

Dotted among the 1,400 soldiers in the parade on Saturday were soldiers sporting a variety of beards beneath their bearskin hats.

However, the style of grooming differed very little as rules regarding facial hair remained strict.

All the beards had to be “full-set” – with a moustache – and be trimmed neatly off the cheekbone and neck. Bristles had to be thick – not patchy – and the length had to be between 2.5mm and 25.5mm, or between a Grade 1 and Grade 8.

Wonder how they’re going to do the other bit of it?

Traditionally, the Navy was fine with someone having a beard or not. Not so fine with someone growing a beard. So, the actual production of one was limited to either leave or a long cruise (note that this is a generation ago). At which point, “Permission to stop shaving, Sir” and the responsible officer would muse on whether he thought a full beard could be produced in the time to the next port. If yes, then OK. If not, then no.

So, what’s the Army’s equivalent of a cruise – and do they have to ask permission – which can be denied – to grow a beard?

13 thoughts on “The Army is finally catching up with the Navy”

  1. The fun bit with the Navy was that day each year when everyone had to go into the hut filled with CS gas. Anti Gas Respirators don’t seal properly to a bearded face so you got people walking around in the gas then racing for the door as they got a whiff. When you emerged they would be standing outside with eyes and nose streaming and their arms outstretched with the Chief Gunnery Officer yelling at them not to rub their eyes.

    In the event that AGR’s might be needed for real the order goes out to “shave off”.

  2. “All the beards had to be “full-set” – with a moustache”

    Thas’ raciss.

    It excludes the “Ranter” beard, beloved of Muslim fundamentalists.

  3. But, As I remember, Pioneer Sergeants were permitted a full beard. They also wore leather aprons and instead of a rifle carried an axe.

  4. But, As I remember, Pioneer Sergeants were permitted a full beard. They also wore leather aprons and instead of a rifle carried an axe.

    Did they get a plaid wool shirt instead of battledress, and a coonskin hat?

  5. @AndyF, that’s why firemen aren’t allowed to grow beards. I know we’re supposed to call them firefighters these days, but given how male firemen treat real women in the force, I don’t think any transwomen will either join or, having done so, grow beards.

  6. BiND waiting for the Elbe Ferry

    The Navy gunner on the LSL we went down to the Falklands on shaved his long standing beard off as soon as it became obvious we were going in to a hot war and had been warned that the Argies had the capability to use chemical agents.

  7. I remember being told in the OTC (Sheffield, about 25y ago) that in order to have a moustache we’d need to ask for permission, then would be given a month to grow a “convincing moustache”.

  8. @Andyf – I heard the navy issued some sort of cream* that could be smeared around the face to make a good seal with the respirator. Was that true?

    *feel free to insert your own jokes about naval traditions at this point

  9. I mentioned elsewhere that in photos of my great-grandfather before WW1 he had a twirly Dick Dasterdly, but in all the WW1 photos when in uniform he had a tightly trimmed Captain Blackadder, specifically because of gas masks.

  10. Person in Pictland

    “What is the point of the Navy?”

    RN officer: “To launch projectiles at the enemy”: pause – “the biggest projectile being the British Army”.

  11. @Andyf – I heard the navy issued some sort of cream* that could be smeared around…

    I worked on a project to build a new pulp mill beside an existing mill, One of the guys I worked with had a full beard, and when he transferred to site he was told he had the choice of shaving it off, or smearing vaseline through his beard while he was on the property to get a good fit on the respirators in case of a chlorine leak. I don’t know if the story is true, but he did shave his beard.

  12. How fortunate for beardies that surgical masks achieve the same performance as for the clean shaven without any need for smearing vaseline around.

    To wit, NBG.

  13. Shaving down to a Captain Blackadder moustache in WW1? See also Gefreiter A. Hitler, who carried on after WW1 because it was the badge of a front-line soldier for those involved in political movements.

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