Samoan Police

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Samoan Police

Post  Sean on Wed 22 Aug 2012, 5:34 am

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But under which colonial power? The Germans, the Americans or the New Zealanders?

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Re: Samoan Police

Post  ChrisF202 on Wed 22 Aug 2012, 6:08 am

My guess is either New Zealand or Germany due to the lightish color uniform.

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Re: Samoan Police

Post  buistR on Fri 24 Aug 2012, 8:19 am

Not New Zealand - their Samoan police of the 1920s wore lava-lavas (long Polynesian skirt like garments) and no headdresses. And so did the pre-1914 German colonial police in all the illustrations I have seen. Don't the star badges on the chest and the round stripes on the cuffs have a characteristic American police c1900s appearance to them? Or were the Keystone cops too dominant a cultural influence in my childhood Smile

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Re: Samoan Police

Post  ChrisF202 on Fri 24 Aug 2012, 10:20 am

Ive thought about that, US police forces most certainly wore "bobby helmets" in the late 1800s and early 1900s so it wouldent be all that far fetched to wear a pith helmet in tropical American Samoa.

The thing that throws me off is the cuff stripes and the khaki colored uniform. Light greyish colored uniforms were commonly worn by US insular area territorial police forces until the 1950s/1960s when they switched to the more usual blue uniforms like their stateside counterparts. The Guam Police and USVI Police wore greyish colored uniforms as did the Puerto Rico Police at this time.

Cuff stripe rank insignia was common to the German police at the time, other German colonial police forces (ie: Southwest Africa) wore cuff rank insignia similar to what is seen in the picture.

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Re: Samoan Police

Post  buistR on Fri 24 Aug 2012, 5:02 pm

Yes some native personnel of the German Samoan Fita Fita certainly had blue cuff stripes on their white dress uniforms, apparently as a badge of nco rank (worn with peaked caps and not the ordinary round cap). Khaki drill was also the normal working dress for German schtztruppen, marines and poiziesoldaten in tropical colonies. However the Samoans did wear lava-lavas and they didn't have star badges on the breast of their tunics. I don't want to seem obsessed with the Keystone Kops but their uniforms (if nothing else) do seem quite authentic for US police forces over the 1900-20 period and their excitable commanding officer (the one with the goatee beard) did have multiple cuff stripes.

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Re: Samoan Police

Post  ChrisF202 on Sat 25 Aug 2012, 1:27 am

buistR wrote:Yes some native personnel of the German Samoan Fita Fita certainly had blue cuff stripes on their white dress uniforms, apparently as a badge of nco rank (worn with peaked caps and not the ordinary round cap). Khaki drill was also the normal working dress for German schtztruppen, marines and poiziesoldaten in tropical colonies. However the Samoans did wear lava-lavas and they didn't have star badges on the breast of their tunics. I don't want to seem obsessed with the Keystone Kops but their uniforms (if nothing else) do seem quite authentic for US police forces over the 1900-20 period and their excitable commanding officer (the one with the goatee beard) did have multiple cuff stripes.
Very interesting, did you know that the Keystone Kops was filmed right here on Long Island?

I will have to do some research on the American Samoa Police and see what I can find about their early uniforms.

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Re: Samoan Police

Post  sepid on Sat 25 Aug 2012, 3:39 am


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Re: Samoan Police

Post  buistR on Sat 25 Aug 2012, 8:35 am

Many thanks Sepid. So they were German Imperial and not US territorial or NZ protectorate police. It was the star badge that sent me off on the wrong tangent - just not a form of insignia that one associates with police prior to WWI other than US forces. The second photo that you posted shows police figures in both indigenous style whites (though with the round peak-less mutze cap) and European style khaki drill (with sun helmet). The white uniform (including lava lava) is the one usually associated with the German Samoan Fita-Fita but presumably the khaki was a service or working dress. Or alternatively the Fita-Fita (sometimes referred to as guards) may have been a separate force from the ordinary colonial police.

It will be interesting to see what Chris discovers re the American Samoan police - didn't the US Marines maintain their own Fita- Fita reserve force on the islands during WWII?

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Re: Samoan Police

Post  ChrisF202 on Sun 26 Aug 2012, 8:39 am

The Fita-Fita was indeed separate from the police during the German era. It was disbanded when the islands became a US territory in 1899 but was reformed in the 1920s. I am not sure if it was under the Navy or the Marines but I do know that they used US Navy ranks and insignia. The force was later disbanded after World War II sometime.

American Samoa is presently the only state or territory in the Union that does not have a National Guard although the territory's US Congressional Delegate is presently pushing for the formation of an American Samoa National Guard.
www.armytimes.com/news/2012/08/ap-guard-american-samoa-delegate-wants-unit-080412/

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Re: Samoan Police

Post  sepid on Sun 26 Aug 2012, 9:45 pm

To buistR: according to the two books, which are available to me, and according to Deutsches Kolonial-lexikon (entry Polizeitruppen) there were 20 - 25 colonial policemen (germ. Landespolizisten) next to the Fitafita (accordint to http://s400910952.websitehome.co.uk/germancolonialuniforms/hist%20pacific.htm there were four German NCOs with about 20 colonial policemen on Sawai and 8 on Upolu). They were called Leoleo and their organisation was civilian and not military one. They were subordinated to Police Secretary and were deployed in native villages and police posts Cana and Saluafata (where they supervised Chinese plantation labourers). The Fitafita was a primarily ceremonial guard and then auxiliary police force.

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Re: Samoan Police

Post  buistR on Mon 27 Aug 2012, 2:31 pm

Hello again Sepid. Thanks very much for clarifying the distinction between Samoan police and Fita-Fita and for providing links that give a detailed picture of the German colonial forces (if that is an appropriate name for 20 polizeitruppe, 30 ceremonial guards and 50 civilian volunteers) in the colony. Certainly the German governor deserves credit for common sense and humanity in not ordering resistance by his handful of native troops against two New Zealand battalions and several allied warships. Some colonial officials of the period would have decided that the honor of the flag (and their own career prospects) required a last stand.

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Re: Samoan Police

Post  Sean on Sun 30 Dec 2012, 12:08 pm

This might help. Police to left fita to right

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American Samoa

Post  Sean on Thu 10 Jan 2013, 6:31 am

I believe these are the American equivalent from the 1890s.

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Re: Samoan Police

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