Sam Browne Question Clarified

RNWMP RCMP sam browne cross strap




Last week, we received an email message from one of our Division members over a photograph of a Force Staff Sergeant Major wearing a sam browne belt at a public event.





Veteran Doug Buchta send out the following message:

I am passing along a curious observation, trusting one of your informed readers can answer my question with respect to our uniform. As I watched the closing ceremony of tonight’s IIHF World Junior Hockey Gold Medal game, two Mounties marched sharply onto the ice surface carrying the Cup.

Photograph of

Photograph of a RCMP S/S/Major and unknown female member (photo provided by Doug Buchta).

I noticed the Member on the left was wearing his Sam Browne Cross Strap over his right shoulder as opposed to his left. I’ve been led to understand the cross strap is intended to support one’s side arm, and if so, might this Member be ‘turned out’ improperly?

I appreciate the higher ranks allow for a degree of deviation from the norm and wonder if this may simply be the case?

In any event, the included photographs depict this Member’s belt hanging awkwardly, almost peculiar in appearance. I have emailed many of my retired buddies and although I’ve received a number of interesting responses, no one was able to say unequivocally one way or another. I was wondering if you or your contacts might know the answer to my question? 

Veteran Ric Hall provided the following response to Doug and to other Veterans who raised the same question:

Uniforms of the Sergeants Major! After events on Parliament Hill there was a rush to makes some changes regarding the wearing of side arms while in Review Order, stripped Sam Browne would be worn only in situations where absolutely no kind of threat could be anticipated. So for the first time this past year for the annual September Police Officers Memorial Parades and on Remembrance Day members wore full Sam Browne.

In the past left hand shooters were encouraged to wear the holster on the right side for uniformity sake. That has been put aside and if you are a “leftie” then you wear it on the left. So you can imagine the reaction if there had also been a left hand shooter in the IIHF cup presentation.

There was considerable discussion that took place about the wearing of side arms by officers and the S/Ms. Even talk of going to two shoulder straps, Sam Steele style.

I know there were many officers scrambling to find holsters (whether right or left handed) to wear for the September Memorial Parade held here and for November 11.

Back to the Staff Sergeant Major he was wearing his Sam Browne as directed, per the decision, of the Corps Sergeant Major.

Photograph of

Photograph of the RCMP red serge for a sergeant major wearing a holster and cross strap as worn when not on parade (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

Photograph of

Photograph of of the RCMP red serge for a sergeant major wearing a holster and cross strap as worn when on parade (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

Technically not on parade, so no lanyard required and the wearing of the Forage Cap rather than the Stetson. It might have looked better if the S/S/M was a left handed shooter, at least the cross strip and holster would have been on the same side. But I digress. Better yet find two members who reflected a mirror image. But that is just me!

The “E” Division Sgt. Major also received some messages from retired members, not quite as polite as the message below, regarding the uniform dress of the S/S/M. Also attached is a picture of Sgt. Major Turner of “Depot” 1920s, complete with holster, sword and lanyard and one cross strap. Wearing a forage cap rather than a Stetson…..back in the 1920s Sgt. Majors could probably wear whatever they wanted!

1917 - Photograph of "Depot" Sergeant Major Ernest Turner (Reg.#4692) (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection).

1917 – Photograph of “Depot” Sergeant Major Ernest Turner (Reg.#4692) (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

If you have any questions or comments, please email Ric at

image of Ric Hall closing block for his Photo Corner webpage