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1.   Overview of the Collection

Repository: McCain Library and Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi

Creator: Given by James A. Riley

Collection Number: M489

Collection Title: Force (Caroline) World War II Collection

Size: 8 items


Dates: 1943 - 1965

Collection Status: FullyProcessed

Abstract: An assortment of items Caroline Force collected including two letters written by her son, Roland Steele, who served with the U.S. Navy in the South Pacific during World War II, three unidentified photographs, a 1965 Christmas card, an un-cancelled check, and a business card for a Hattiesburg, Mississippi, hotel called ‘The Central’.


2.   Subjects

Caroline and W.J. Force

Roland E. Steele

Nathan H. Sanford

World War II

World War II Navy – South Pacific

Hattiesburg, Mississippi


3. Biographical/Historical Note

Caroline Force (1903-1979) and her husband, W.J. Force (1867-1959), were residents of Hattiesburg for a number of years. Mrs. Force’s son, Roland E. Steele (1925-1966), served as Ship's Serviceman First Class in the United States Navy during World War II aboard the USS Salt Lake City. Mrs. Force’s brother, Nathan H. Sanford (1912-1944) served as Private First Class assigned to Company B, 23rd Armored Infantry Battalion, 7th Armored Division as a MOS 745 (rifleman) in the United States Army during World War II.

Steele boarded the USS Salt Lake City on September 30, 1943, which was just after the Battle of the Aleutian Islands. He served during many pivotal battles that helped the American Forces push the Japanese out to the Philippines. Some of those are the Gilbert Islands operation, the Marshall Islands operation, the attack at Wake Island, the second Battle of the Philippine Sea, the Volcano Islands operation, the invasion of Iwo Jima and finally Okinawa. Landing day, “L-Day”, at Okinawa was Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945. The battle continued until June 22, 1945. The USS Salt Lake City left the Okinawa battle on May 29, 1945, for repairs. While they were on the way back to the Aleutians, Japan surrendered so they were ordered to Ominato on norther Honshu to help occupy the Japanese naval base. The USS Salt Lake City was then used to perform “Magic Carpet” rides taking US troops from the Philippines back home to the United States.

Caroline Force and Roland Steele are interred at Hillcrest Cemetery in Petal, Mississippi. W.J. Force is interred at Oaklawn Cemetery in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Nathan Sanford is interred at Runnelstown First Baptist Church Cemetery in Runnelstown, Mississippi.


4. Scope and Content Note

Both handwritten letters are from Mrs. Force’s son Roland Steele during his time in the U.S. Navy during World War II. In his letter from August 20, 1943, Steele discusses being shipped out soon to an unknown location, his guess was somewhere near Australia. He expressed concern that he would not live to return home. He mentioned “Nate” who was Private First Class Nathan H. Sanford, his uncle, Mrs. Force’s brother, asking if he was already home since he was in the Army. PFC Sanford was killed in action near Marboue, France, on August 15, 1944.

In his letter from May 24, 1945, on which he wrote 1944, he discusses family letters and issues. He mentions “Nate” saying how much he misses him and that he still prays that he is alive. He tells her that the past three years have been hell and things are getting worse.

In addition, the collection contains an un-cancelled check for six cents from Hattiesburg Savings and Loan to Mrs. Force on September 19, 1961, a 1965 Christmas card to Mrs. Force from Annie Collier, a business card for a hotel called “The Central” on West Pine Street, and three unidentified black and white photographs.


5. Arrangement

The materials in the collection did not receive significant arrangement. It’s arranged by handwritten letters, check, Christmas card, business card, and photographs.


6. Related Material

Related collections at the University of Southern Mississippi include:

·         M494 Roberts (Emma Lou) Papers

·         M278 Bullock (Pat H.) World War II Papers

·         Cameron (Eugene V.) USS Biloxi Collection

·         M275 Fike (Claude E.) World War II Diary

·         M281 Hill (Chester W.) World War II Memoirs

·         Sundell (Carl H.) World War II Memoir

·         M353 USS Biloxi Collection


7. Administrative Information

Provenance: Donated by James A. Riley

Use Restrictions:  This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code). Reproduction of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Provision of photocopies or digital reproductions does not constitute permission to publish, distribute, provide internet access to, or otherwise display images of materials in this collection. Copyright is retained by the lawful copyright holder, and it is the responsibility of the permission seeker to contact and secure permission from the copyright holder. Where copyright permission is not granted, images are only for use in private study subject to the Fair Use exceptions made in U.S. Copyright Law.

Access Restrictions: Open to researchers.

Preferred Citation Method: In citing these materials, the following information should be included:

Item, title of collection, McCain Library and Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi.

Processing Information: Collection processed and finding aid written by Mary Dugan and Cindy Lawler, July 2016.


-World War II in the Pacific, 2016

-Find a Grave

-Content of Collection

-Case file


8. Container List

Item 1 Handwritten letter with envelope from Roland Steele to his mother, Mrs. W.J. Force dated August 20, 1943.

Item 2 Handwritten letter with envelope from Roland Steele to his mother, Mrs. W.J. Force dated May 24, 1945.

Item 3 Un-cancelled check for six cents from Hattiesburg Savings and Loan to Mrs. Caroline Force on September 19, 1961.

Item 4 1965 Christmas card with envelope to Mrs. W.J. Force from Annie Collier mailed on December 18, 1965.

Item 5 Business card for a hotel called “The Central” at 125 West Pine Street in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Undated.

Item 6 Photograph M489-1

Item 7 Photograph M489-2

Item 8 Photograph M489-3


9.  Item List

Photograph Log

M489-1           Portrait photograph of an unidentified man.

                        4 x 6                B & W             undated

M489-2           Portrait photograph of an unidentified man.

                        5 x 3                B & W             undated

M489-3           Photograph of an unidentified man sitting in a rocking chair, outdoors. Possibly the same man as in M489-2. Bottom of photograph cut off.

                        4 x 5                B & W             undated


10. Publication Information

Publisher: The University of Southern Mississippi Libraries, Special Collections


Physical Address: 

The University of Southern Mississippi Libraries

McCain Library & Archives

118 College Drive #5148

Hattiesburg, MS 39406-5148

Email Contact: To email, go to:

Revision Date: Last revised: July 2016

Prepared and maintained by
The University of Southern Mississippi Libraries Special Collections
118 College Drive #5148   Hattiesburg, MS 39406-5148