Beards in the Army

Forces Network tells me that Pioneer Sergeant is the only rank in the British Army allowed to present a beard on parade.

Pioneer Sergeants have been a part of the British Army since the 1700s. Pioneers because they marched in front of their regiment. Wielding a battleaxe and sporting an apron, as they do on parade today, they would clear the way for the troops who trailed them.
Tactical beard
The Pioneer Sergeant was also called upon for smithing and construction work. The beard was tactical as it would protect the old fizzog from the heat of the forge. One gruesome aspect of the PS's role was to kill horses wounded in battle. They would then remove a leg which had a number identifying the horse branded on the hoof so as to avoid any deceit when a replacement was requested.

Sgt Stuart McIver of the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment can fill you in a bit:

Beards in the Navy

What about beards in the other armed forces? Beards are allowed in the Royal Navy if permission is granted. The beard must be the full set of moustache and beard covering the jawline. If a sailor can't manage that, of it comes. Submariners are often associated with beards, as they traditionally forwent the razor to conserve water.

Moustaches in the RAF

The RAF, naturally, allow moustaches but not beards. In fact, a moustache was pretty much a part of the uniform in the Second World War. So dashing. The moustache is not meant to extend below the edge of the mouth. One recalls the Battle of the Tache —  the dust up between RAF Flight Lieutenant Chris Ball (below) and an American general who ordered him to shave his moustache. Happily, the moustache was found not to breach RAF guidelines.


  1. I believe Pipe Majors in Scottish regiments are also permitted to wear beards

    1. Thanks James. Appears to be the case. Any Pipe Majors out there?

    2. dileasgubas@ntlworld.com6 October 2018 at 21:24

      Its Drum Majors not Pipe Majors who can be bearded, I don't know why (ex WO2 in a Highland Regiment)


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