Beards and whiskers may be worn only with authority

My favourite Parliamentary Question for a while;

Tobias Ellwood (Bournemouth East, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what regulations there are on facial hair for personnel in the Army.

Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 18 January 2013, c963W)

Mark Francois (Rayleigh and Wickford, Conservative)
The regulation governing facial hair for personnel in the Army is laid down in Army General Administrative Instruction as follows:

“Hair is to be well cut and trimmed, except where authority has been granted otherwise on religious grounds. Style and colour (if not natural) is not to be of an exaggerated nature. Moustaches are to be trimmed and not below the line of the lower lip. Beards and whiskers may be worn only with authority, and this will usually be granted only on medical or religious grounds, or where tradition permits. The appearance of the beard and whiskers is to be neat and tidy. Sideburns are not to descend below the mid point of the ear and are to be trimmed horizontally.”


Pub quiz time, what makes these fine fellow the exception?




The answer is on their arm






About The Author

Think Defence hopes to start sensible conversations about UK defence issues, no agenda or no campaign but there might be one or two posts on containers, bridges and mexeflotes!


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For those of you who don't know in the RN you don't request to grow a beard, but request to stop shaving.


X, I am striking your quite correct answer to give everyone else a chance!


That is OK as long as I still get a gold star on my chart on the Wardroom fridge door........


Shiny ceremonial silver implements, long historical connection with construction, and although not shown I've got a distinct recollection of leather aprons... I've got it! Royal Regiment of Freemasons ??


Could it be 74 (The Battle Axe Company) Battery Royal Artillery, but there's been a mixup with the capbadges. However, beards have been fasionable, nay traditional, with pioneer sergeants in at least some battalions, although I believe the assault pioneer platoon left peace establisiment of infantry battalions many years ago, perhaps there's still a sergeant for old times sake.

Looking at the figures, I might suggest the army has got leaner if not meaner in the ensuing half century (at least).


It's the Pioneers and something else here. Burying bodies, and SLJ's are their forte.

But unsure of the Royal Welch Fusilier Connection, with the Welch Regiment?


Why did the Pioneers have a spade and rifle on their cap badges?

To remind them what they looked like.


Yes, its the Pioneer Sergeant

I grabbed the photo from Flickr, the caption reads

Pioneer Sgt 1st RWF and Pioneer Sgt 1st welch Cyprus 1958

Mike, I made on offhand comment on here a couple of years ago about pioneers doing the grave digging thing and the reaction I had was a bit strong to say the least, a huge sense of humour failure :)


Should men in uniform be forced to shave?


@Think Defence... Pioneers upset by being told the truth *shocker*. Don't remember them being the sharpest tool in the shed, and comparing that to the baseline of the average Infantryman "Squaddie" is truly saying something. ;)


There are(?) / were operational reasons as well. I recall being allowed to not shave or cut my hair on a tour in Belfast in the late 80s in my early 20s, as my role involved my being in civvies (not sneaky beaky, mind - that was beyond my competence, but it was helpful to be low observable in a street of people). Gordon Bennet, but 3 months later I'd got a duck's fuzz. And straggly shoulder length hair. Actually, perfect for the grotty student look. What was not so good is being stopped (looking grotty student-like) by the security guard at M&S in central Belfast, who took me to one side and said "Sir, your pistol is showing above your jeans". Obviously, I was not cut out for the sneakily stuff. I mean, how the hell did he know?

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Beards and whiskers may be worn only with authority

by Think Defence time to read: 1 min