French Boy Scout Uniforms

Figure 1.--French Scouts at the 1929 World Jamboree. Note that some of the boys wear berets, but the uniforms look much like British Scout uniforms.

The garments worn by French Scouts are essentially the same as those worn by English and other Scouts around the world. In fact the uniform by the principal French Scout association was for years quite similar to those worn by English Scoits--although there were variations early on in the uniforms worn by some of the smaller associations. The one uniquely French Scout iniform item was the beret--an item that after World War II (1939-45) was adopted by many natinal Scout associations around the world, but not by other youth groups.


Early French Scouts adopted the Smokey the Bear hat worn by English Scouts. Some smaller French Associations wore bérets, but the largest Scout association wore the Smokey Bear hat that Lord Baden Poweel made famous. The beret is first adopted as the principal headgear for French scouts at the end of 1940. This is the result of a choice of the federation of the French scoutime founded in 1940, several months after the German occupation in 1940. The Germans in many occupied countries aboloished the Scout movement and in "suitable" countries propmoted the creation of nationalist youth programs under their control. Scouting was not aboloshed in France, in part because southern and western France was left under control of the Vichy Government. The new federation, howevere, absorbed the different French Scout association into one large national association. They adopted a standard uniform for all French Scouts. One of the changes was the replacement of the traditional Scout Smokey Bear, often referred to in France as the "Baden-Powell" Scout hat. by the béret. Why this change? One French contributor theorizes, "I thinks that the hat was too assiociated with the English. In Vichy France, under virtual German control, it was patriotic to choose a item of destinctly French origin like the béret for French Scouts. In addition, by making them look less English, it was less likely that the Germans would act against Scouting as they did in other occupied countries. While French Scouts only adopted the béret in 1940, the French Cubs from the since thir organizatiion had worn bérets. After World War II, French Scouts wore different colored bérets. The green bérets were worn by units "raiders" of French scouts. When Father REVET in 1965 created the scouts of Riaumont he decided to use a military cap for the Scout uniform. Until 1971, the scouts of Riaumont were the only ones has to wear the cap in the place of the béret. The scouts unit of France (SUF) created in 1971, also chose to wear caps because the boys thought the béret rather ridiculous and preferred the more virile cap. The Scouts of Europe have worn bérets since 1962 and this has never changed.

Figure 2.--Riaumont wolf cubs of prepare for a "sortie". As other French Cubs, the boys wear berets.






Christopher Wagner

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Created: June 21, 2000
Last updated: June 21, 2000