Samoan and his Springfield


samoan sailor with 1903

The description in the  archives for this photo reads: A be-skirted seaman 2nd class stands guard. He is wearing an M.P. arm band, belt with bayonet, holding a rifle and standing next to a sign “OFFICE OF THE MILITARY GOVERNOR PROVOST MARSHAL OF AMERICAN SAMOA”.

Samoa was on the front lines of WWII after Pearl Harbor. A Marine Brigade would arrive January 20, 1942 to better defend the islands. These photos from the Springfield Armory National Historic Site archives show a number of the local recruits who joined the 5600-man Samoan Marine Brigade. Wearing the traditional “lavalava” cloth wrap, these men were trained to use Springfield Armory 1903 rifles to defend their homeland. American Samoa would be attacked only once during the war when a Japanese submarine shelled the island causing minimal damage.

According to the NPS, “On January 11, 1942, the Naval Station was shelled by a Japanese submarine. One shell, an odd stroke of irony, struck the home and store of one of the very few Japanese residents of the island. Another struck the Navy Dispensary, doing only minor damage, but most of the shells landed in the bay. At the time, of course, the incident must have seemed to be only the beginning. This was the only enemy attack in American Samoa.”

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