Scout Hat or Beret

National Headgear Census - the Cambridge vote

Scout Hat

B-P wrote’...the broad brimmed khaki hat is a good protection from sun and rain’, and in his advice in Part 1 wrote ‘If your Patrol does not belong to any uniformed corps it should dress as nearly as possible thus: Flat brimmed hat if possible, or wide awake hat’.

Widely imitated by Scout associations in many countries it was an expensive item. In the very first issue of the Headquarters Gazette in 1909 an article on how to get a uniform as cheaply as possible achieved a sum of 1/10½d (one shilling, ten and a half pence) the hat was an irreducible 1/- (one shilling). Average wages for an agricultural worker were 15/4d a week (fifteen shillings and four pence a week) in 1910 and spare money was scarce. By 1915 the cost of a hat had risen to 2/6.

1947

The Cambridge Scout Section minute book records a discussion initiated by IHQ concerning possible changes to uniforms.

‘Hats Considerable discussion took place, suggestions included; two hats, present for parade, beret for camp etc., Afrika Corp hat and berets. On a proposal to abolish the current scout hat: 8 voted in favour 4 for its retention for ceremonial use.

It was then unanimously agreed to recommend that a Tank Corp type beret be adopted.’

1949

In 1949 the new section ‘Senior Scouts’, the Rover Scouts and Scouters were given permission to wear a beret. The beret was seen as practical, cheaper, came in any colour and was strongly associated with the more adventurous elements of the Allied Forces in the recent War - the black beret of the Royal Armoured Corps , the maroon of the Parachute Regiment and the green of the Commandos.

1954

In 1954 Headquarters ran a census concerning a move to berets for those under 15. Three questions were asked of Courts of Honour (a committee of scouts), Group Committees (a committee of leaders/adults), DC’s and CC’s.

Q.1   HAT  Should the Scout Hat be the only headgear permissible for Scouts under 15?
Q.2  BOTH Should Scouts under 15 be permitted to wear Scout Hats or Berets (provided that all in the Troop under 15 wear the same)?
Q.3 BERET Should the Scout Hat be abolished and replaced by a beret?

Answers from Cambridge Groups; 1/HAT for no change, 2/BOTH for choice, 3/BERET for change

1st 5th 7th 8th 9th 11th 12th 13th 14th 17th 19th
Court of Honour
BERET
BOTH
BERET
BERET
BOTH
HAT
BERET
HAT
BOTH
BOTH
BERET
Group Committee
BERET
BOTH
BOTH
HAT
BOTH
BOTH
BERET
HAT
BERET
BOTH
BERET

23rd
26th
27th
28th
29th
44th
51st
53rd
54th
60th
Court of Honour
BOTH
HAT
BOTH
HAT
HAT
HAT
BERET
HAT
HAT
BOTH
Group Committee
BOTH
HAT
BOTH
HAT
HAT
HAT
BERET
HAT
BOTH
BOTH

 
HAT
BOTH
BERET
Courts of Honour
8
7
6
Group Committees
7
9
5
County District Commissioners
0
6
2

Comments attached to the Cambridgeshire DC’s replies suggested; ’berets for camping, hiking, orienteering etc’, ‘will come but not yet’; uniformity but not ‘some Troops with and some without as it is now...’ and ‘berets are cheaper’. The Cambridge District Commissioner voted for Q 2 BOTH, that is, either/ or, by Troop.

A green beret became an option for the Boy Scout section in 1954.

Both Scout Hat and Beret are seen in this 1964 Pathe newsreel

 

 

Scouts (Green) and Senior Scouts (Maroon beret) in a Pathe newsreel of 1963.
The Scout leader also wore a beret in this film.

 

 

 

The Scout Hat was finally abolished in the Scout Association in 1967.

The beret was abolished in 1989.