Military headgear – what do beret colours mean?

Military headgear – what do beret colours mean?

In military units, each type of headgear and its colour has a specific meaning. Today, you will learn about the meaning of military beret colours and whether it is allowed to wear them as you wish. Let’s find out more!

Military berets – their history and meaning

Berets have been used in the military since at least the 16th century. At that time, they were often a permanent part of the extravagant outfit of the Landsknecht (infantry units originating from German-speaking countries). They were not accepted as part of the formal uniform until the end of the 19th century, when Alpine troops were formed in France. Wondering what the colours of berets in the army mean today? Most often they symbolise membership of a particular type of armed force or unit. Berets are present in military formations all over the world, e.g. in Australia, the United States or the United Kingdom. Everyone knows the shape and appearance of the characteristic beret of the U.S. Army, which is why berets are still associated mainly with elite units.

Beret colours – what do they mean in Poland?

In case of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland, berets are part of the soldiers’ working uniform and have the following colours depending on their affiliation to a particular unit:

  • black – Polish Navy, armoured units, Military Unit Formoza;
  • maroon – Airborne forces, Air Cavalry units;
  • blue – coastal defence units, Training Center for Overseas Missions, Inspectorate for Armed Forces Support;
  • scarlet – Military Gendarmerie units;
  • grey – Military Unit GROM;
  • green – other Land Forces units;
  • dark green – other Special Forces units
  • olive green – Territorial Defence Forces.

A military beret bears also a sign of a military eagle, usually embroidered on the basic fabric in the beret’s colour, corresponding with a given type of troops. Today, black berets are often used by war veterans (mainly of World War II) as well. Until recently, the Air Forces still wore the characteristic steel blue berets, but these have been replaced by side caps.

Military berets – the way to wear them

We already know the colours of military berets, so it’s time to learn the way to wear them. It’s strictly defined by the regulation of the Minister of National Defence. According to the general rules, a beret is worn slightly tilted to the right ear, but in such a way that the eagle sign is placed in the middle of the forehead, above the eyebrow line. It’s different for dark green and olive-coloured berets, in case of which the eagle sign should be placed above the left eyebrow. Additionally, in both cases the right edge of a beret should be lowered down and slightly back, so that it falls freely over the ear. Of course, this is how the military beret is worn during military shows. If the beret is not on the head, it should be carried under the left shoulder mark or, if there is none, in the left trouser pocket at thigh level.

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