A Sam Browne belt is a sword or pistol belt for officers. The strap supports the left side from the hip, passing over the right shoulder. Originally the belt was supported by two shoulder straps that crossed each other, one for each shoulder. Later only one strap was used, and it passed over the left shoulder to keep the trouser from sagging from the weight of the sword. Still later, when the belt became primarily an ornament of dress, the belt was transferred to the right shoulder. The belt became de rigueur for dress uniforms in the British army and was widely used by armies throughout the world.
Today the belt is a standard part of the dress of drill groups, marching bands, and cadets.
Born in India, Samuel Browne (1824-1901) spent a distinguished career in that country. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for crushing a native rebellion. In 1888 he was named a general, but he was unable to don the belt he invented because he had only one arm. The other had been lost in the rebellion.