It was fucking difficult to find dark khaki berets. Trying to do the 13th Demi Brigades later war look, in which they started to wear the
Maginot aka the ‘fortress beret.’ A lot were civilian models, so like typical French makes they ranged from dark olive to brown. Nothing in the US, so had to order one from the UK.
(I love this NCO’s beret. Has his rank, a Cross of Lorainee pin, and collar insignia.)
Both of these photographs come from the time the 13th Demi was in Italy (1943) and completely refitted with US Lend Lease items. There’s a lot of people that say that they wore the berets in place of kepis because they wanted to show they were more loyal to the Free French cause vs. the ex-Vichy units that joined the Allies after Operation Torch. I can’t really find any provenance for this. It’s a fun story, if anything.
It seems more likely that a lot of the sources for the kepis dried up and they wanted to retain something of French origins. The 13th Demi had worn berets while in Norway in 1940, so that seems the more likely reason as to why they decided to wear them while in Italy.
They ended up retaining the beret into the end of the war, as per this photograph with a captured German banner in 1945.
An original 13th Demi US service dress uniform converted to French standards, with Legion buttons.
Officer’s US Service tunic and a much lighter olive colored beret.
An original Béret ligne Maginot
from the late 1930s.
A fair deal of French reenactors have been gutting up Cold War or modern Belgian and British berets. The problem with that is while the color looks good, you have to remove the leather sweat band and air hole vents. Then rework the inside. That didn’t really seem worth the time and cost. The 13th did have a shorter beret like these, but they don’t seem to be the most common.
This is the one I ordered. I sometimes hate ordering online since you never know the exact colors of things. However, this seems to be in the right range. The big thing will be adding a white cotton liner to the inside and add the emerald green rank insignia for corporal on it.