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Berets khaki or blue?

What replaced the old khaki side hat worn until the end of WWII? Was it a khaki beret or a blue one? The question is a controversial one, for some maintain that the beret that replaced the side hat was blue. Others, who were there during the same changeover, are equally adamant that a khaki beret was first replacement hat issued; that a blue beret replaced the khaki version later. Even the school historian (reported to be writing a definitive history of the school, which will be a welcome addition to the School history) gave a qualified response to Colonel Gus Bainger's direct question on the subject. The School historian wrote:

To our knowledge the beret has always been blue since the changeover and we know of no precedent for it to have been otherwise. We do not have any documentation in support of this view however.

Having no foundation in documentary evidence, this opinion is unreliable, for it is an opinion and not a statement of fact. Also, and because the writer has no personal experience in the matter, his 'To our knowledge…' is without meaning. Photographs both before and after the changeover are more reliable evidence. The evidence they provide is more definite although, according to proponents of one view on the subject or the other, black and white photographs can be deceptive. With this qualification, here are selected photographs that should allow readers to decide for themselves whether or khaki as well as blue berets were at one time worn.
    Before the post-WWII changeover, uniforms were standard dress worn at all times. Every day wear was khaki: short trousers. side hats with two lines of red piping running from the front to rear, long hose socks and buttoned pre-WWII jackets. Prefects wore long khaki trousers, peaked caps and the same pre-WWII jacket, but with shoulder tabs and side pockets as shown in the photograph of the Harrington brothers. For ceremonial wear, and excepting the drum major, the standard infantry scarlet jacket, blue trousers with a red stripe down the sides, and a peaked cap was the standard wear. The peaked cap had a red band with the School crest worn at the front as shown in the centre photograph. The third photograph, taken in 1939, shows in clear detail the side hats and jackets of the everyday khaki uniform. The School cap badge was worn on the left face of the hat.

George and Fred McCarthy in their every day khaki uniforms in 1939
The Harrington brothers, the centre figure a prefect flanked by his younger brothers in khaki short trousers and knee-high hose socks
Alec Johnson in pre-WWII ceremonial dress: scarlet jacket, red-striped blue trousers and peaked hat
During the years immediately following WWII, the uniform for daily wear changed in stages from the old-style service pattern dress to battledress, but with short khaki trousers for younger boys and long trousers for those who reached a specified height. Berets were introduced, too, and according to many the first issue wwas khaki as illustrated in the image of Michael Ridlington (1952-61) shown here. flanked by his sisters, the two prefects receiving awards from the inspecting officer on Grand Day (1951), and Frank Hartry (1946-51). These photographs clearly show a mixture of uniforms, but all the figures are wearing khaki berets.
Michael Ridlington (1951-61) in khaki beret with his sisters in 1951
Grand Day 1951 with inspecting officer Field Marshal Harding presenting a shield to Ron Bryant (1945-51), in khaki beret.
Frank Hartry of Wolseley House and the drum corps in battledress uniform and khaki beret
Finally, the following three photographs show clearly that the blue beret came into its own as the headgear of choice by, at least, the early 1950s. On the left is a friend of one of the Harrinton brothers, taken with Dover Castle in the background; next is a view of the drum corps and fifes, shown wearing blue berets when the image is enlarged; and, thirdly, John Bentley (1951-50).
Friend of a Harrington brother with Dover Castle in the background.
Drum corps and bugle band wearing blue berets (see enlarged version).

John Bentley (1951-60) of Haig House in the early 1950s

Readers may decide for themselves whether berets have been blue from the beginning as stated by the School historian, an opinion strongly supported by many, or were first issued in khaki and later re-issued in blue.

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