Item #List2436 ‘Go For Broke’ / 442nd Combat Team Song. Japanese-Americana - World War Two - 442nd Infantry Regiment, Harry Hamada.
‘Go For Broke’ / 442nd Combat Team Song.

‘Go For Broke’ / 442nd Combat Team Song.

Hattiesburg: Earl M. Finch, 1944. Sheet music measuring 12 x 9 inches, 4 pp. Signature of a Nabuko Hayashida on front cover. Slight tears at fold, some toning, two small pinholes, very good overall, quite attractive. Very Good. Item #List2436

In Hawaii in May 1942, a battalion of Nisei volunteers was assembled for service in World War Two, despite earlier failures of efforts to recruit Japanese-Americans due to the Army’s labeling of Nisei recruits as 4-C enemy aliens. Designated as the 100th Infantry Battalion, they were deployed to North Africa in June 1943, integrating with the 34th Division in active combat. Their subsequent deployment to Italy in September 1943 exposed them to intense warfare, earning them the moniker of the "Purple Heart Battalion" due to their notably high casualty rate.

In January 1943, the U.S. War Department officially declared the establishment of the segregated 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT), which was comprised of Nisei volunteers originating from Hawaii and the mainland. The culmination of this initiative transpired in June 1944 when the 442nd RCT merged forces with the 100th Infantry Battalion in Europe, subsequently absorbing the latter into its structure. The notable achievements of Nisei soldiers in combat operations prompted the reinstatement of the draft in January 1944, specifically targeting Nisei detainees to augment the ranks of the 442nd. Over time, the 442nd RCT expanded to encompass the 2nd, 3rd, and 100th Battalions; the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion; the 232nd Engineering Company; the 206th Army Band; Anti-Tank Company; Cannon Company; and Service Company.

Offered here is a very scarce piece of sheet music entitled “Go For Broke,” which was written by the Hawaiian musician Harry Hamada, reflecting the slogan of the 442nd, and performed by Shelby and others during the war as part of efforts to boost morale. Hamada would feature in the 1951 movie “Go For Broke” as Masami alongside several other veterans of the 442nd. This publication of “Go For Broke” is from 1944, seven years before the movie’s release. The piece is dedicated to Colonel C.W. Pence. Hamada was a Hawaiian musician who performed with a band called the Shelby Hawaiians or the Shelby Serenaders. They performed as early as 1943. The Hattiesburg, Mississippi merchant Earl M. Finch, who ran an Army and Navy store close to Camp Shelby, befriended Hamada and other members of the 442nd and acted as a sponsor for the group, and eventually published this version despite his business being a dry goods merchant house and not a publishing house. The group, with the support of Finch, performed throughout the country to lift morale. At some point Hamada penned this composition, likely in 1944, as we find no reference to it in 1943 articles, and Finch published it - Hamada’s composition would become the theme song of the 442nd, and Hamada would perform at the Halloran General Hospital in New York and the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. in 1944, likely performing this composition. Another composition called “Go For Broke” exists as well, and it is unclear to what degree Hamada’s work caught on among the regiment.

We find two records of Finch’s published version of the composition, one listed as part of an online remembrance of the 442nd by the Smithsonian Institution (https://americanhistory.si.edu/explore/stories/day-remembrance-70-years-after-executive-order-9066), which appears to have been on loan from the National Japanese American Historical Society, and another copy held at Stanford, though not listed in OCLC. Finch’s story is also interesting, and is the subject of a remembrance on a 100th Battalion History page online (https://www.100thbattalion.org/history/stories/earl-finch/). We find no copies listed in OCLC. Overall a very scarce piece of Japanese-American wartime history.

Price: $2,500.00