509th PIB Red Beret


Original WWII British Airborne beret issued to 509th Veteran whose Army Service Number is written on the white tag sewn inside to the lining. The 509th beret patch was made in theater to fit this beret and slightly smaller than typical examples seen above. The parachutist badge is of Durocharm manufacture.




Major General Frederick A. M. "Boy" Browning mentions his chance meeting with Capt. Carlos "Doc" Alden. In William B. Breuers book Captain Cool, the encounter is described. In the spring of 1943, Capt. Alden was riding his motorcycle and paused along the road near Camp Kunkle, Oujda, North Africa. A British staff car approached and stopped. A British Officer stepped out, shook hands and said "I'm General Browning" in his typical friendly manner. Eventually General Browning inquired, "Captain, your outfit was made honorary members of the British Airborne back in England when we trained together. Why aren't you wearing one of our berets?" Alden replied, "The reason I'm not wearing one is that I do not have one to wear." General Browning quickly responded, "Well, I can take care of that right now" He reached up and took off his beret and placed it on Doc Alden's head. With a grin "There, now you look like a real paratrooper!" From that point on Doc Alden was rarely seen in town or in combat without his prized red beret.


Capt. Carlos "Doc" Alden, Battalion Surgeon wearing the Red Beret presented to him by Major General Frederick "Boy" Browning, Commander, British 1st Airborne Division


Sgt. Dick Fisco, Lead Scout, HQ Scout Platoon in Italy wearing the distinctive British Red Beret while demonstrating the low profile fighting stance with tommy gun.


When the Army threatened to do away with the beret, the 509th Parachute Infantry Association did a letter writing campaign to tell the history of the beret for airborne personnel and the importance of continuing this tradition. This letter was sent to the commander of the 1/509th expressing pride in doing their part to preserve the beret.


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