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Special Home > Guide to the Frank Everett and Roger Steele World War II Papers, 1942-1945

Guide to the Frank Everett and Roger Steele World War II Papers, 1942-1945

Collection number: MC 229

Size: 3 boxes
(1.00 cu.ft.)


About Frank Everett and Roger Steele

Frank Everett Steele was born on May 3, 1916, into a family of farmers and
Seventh-Day Adventists in Campton, New Hampshire. Called “Everett” by friends and
family, he was the third child of Frank W. (b. August 1865) and Eda M. Steele (b.
March 31, 1884), joining his elder siblings Lawrence (born May 17, 1906) and Eva
(born May 5, 1908). It appears, however, that this was Frank W.’s second family. He
had been married once before in 1895 to a woman named Alice and they had produced
one child, Lester. By 1905, however, the couple had apparently divorced, and Frank
married Eda M. Sawyer. In 1921, Eda gave birth to her last child, Roger F. Frank W.
died in 1936, leaving his wife and three sons to run the family farm. By the time
of
the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, Lawrence would be too old to
participate in the Second World War, but Everett and Roger were the perfect age for
military service.

Neither brother was willing to go; as Seventh-Day Adventists, their religion preached
pacifism and a strict adherence to the Sixth Commandment. Moreover, with their
father Frank deceased, both boys were needed on the farm. Nevertheless, Everett and
Roger signed Army enlistment documents on November 17, 1942, in Manchester, New
Hampshire and by the end of the month, both were busy packing their things. “None
of
us,” Eva recalled, “were in very good spirits.”

As “Conchies,” or “Conscientious Objectors” (also often referred to as “C.O.s” in
their letters), both Steeles enrolled as medics. After a brief stint as an ambulance
driver in Kearns, Utah, Everett was assigned to Randolph Field in San Antonio,
Texas, an Army Air Force base. As a member of the School of Aviation Medicine, a
branch of the 27th Army Air Force Base Unit, Everett took classes in math and
science and served as a skilled chamber technician. “The chamber,” as he called it,
simulated conditions at various altitudes, and often carried Everett alongside such
test subjects as monkeys, rabbits, and stray dogs. After Japan surrendered in August
of 1945, Everett was transferred to the Air Corps. He hoped that the enrollment
would secure him a discharge earlier than if he had stayed on as a medic. Besides,
as he added in a letter home on August 17, “they can’t make me a use a gun”.
Everett’s gamble worked; he remained in the Air Corps as a private first-class until
he bought his train ticket home that November.

Like his brother, Roger was also dispatched to the South. Assigned to historic Fort
Barrancas near Pensacola, Florida, Roger served as a nurse until his shipment
overseas in January of 1945. As a medic in Company B of the 314th Medical Battalion,
Roger was stationed in France until the early spring of 1945, visiting such French
towns as Cany, St. Valery, Le Havre, Dieppe, Rheims, and the Luxembourg city of
Mersh. In early March, his unit was assigned to the tail of Patton’s Third Army as
it drove through Frankfurt and Arnstadt and nearly to the Czech border. By the end
of May, however, Roger was reassigned to Camp Lucky Strike, France, an immense
American staging base located near the English Channel and named for a popular brand
of cigarettes. Within a month he was transferred to a new outfit and sent home
aboard the U.S. Liberty ship Sea Porpoise. After a
short assignment at Camp Leonard Wood, Missouri, the Army dispatched Roger back to
Fort Barrancas in mid-October 1945. He soon enlisted the aid of Congressman Sherman
Adams of New Hampshire in securing his discharge, arriving back at the family farm
in Campton in late November 1945.

Frank Everett passed away on April 12, 2005, and is buried at Blair Cemetery in his
hometown of Campton, New Hampshire. His younger brother, Roger F. Steele, was living
in Campton as recently as 2002. Their sister, Eva, died in 1959, while their mother,
Eda M. Steele, passed away on December 5, 1989, at the age of 105. She had kept a
framed picture of both sons on a shelf all through the war “where I [could] see it
all the time.”


About the Frank Everett and Roger Steele World War II Papers

The collection consists largely of correspondence to and from Frank Everett and Roger
Steele and their mother Eda. Letters from other family and friends, such as their
sister Eva, church friends, and their romantic interests, Alice and Dorothy (“Dot”)
respectively, are also included. There is one folder of miscellaneous items. The
collection also contains a few newspaper clippings and postcards.

The Frank Everett and Roger Steele World War II Papers are most notable for the faith
of its authors, who sprinkled their letters with evangelical Christian sentiment.
One friend of Everett’s wrote him on November 12, 1944, wondering “how those get
along who don’t know God.” To support his brother’s faith while overseas, moreover,
Everett sends Roger a pocket Bible. The latter, having survived his service abroad,
was confident enough on August 31, 1945, to write that God had been sheltering him
from the very beginning. “As I look back into the past,” he penned home, “he has
worked out every thing very good.”

The correspondence also describes the worship and socialization of Christian
communities, whether it be church services in New England or bible study groups on
or off the base. It also details the obstacles that Seventh-Day Adventists (often
referred to as SDAs in the collection) faced as they navigated army life while
adhering to their religion. In particular, the Adventist creed forbids the taking
of
human life and the performance of work on the Sabbath, and these two tenets posed
challenges to the Steele brothers. A friend wrote Everett on February 25, 1943, to
recall how one SDA refused to do duty on the Sabbath, at which point his Sergeant
“dumped his douffle bag on the floor + made him pick it up and then dumped it on the
bed and told him NOT to pick it up because it would be working.” Roger and Everett
ameliorated such hurdles by joining other Christians in both prayer and play. As
such, the collection provides a glimpse into evangelical Christian sociability in
World War II. More material concerning the Steele’s religious beliefs, including
personal soul-winning convenants, church tithe receipts, and a Christian newsletter,
are contained in the miscellaneous items folder.

Also notable is Roger Steele’s correspondence from Europe. His letters, especially
those from March until May 1945, detail the bomb-wrought destruction of France, from
smashed cities to countryside craters, as well as descriptions of the Allies’
triumphant march towards Berlin. “This side of [the] Rhine (East),” he wrote his
brother on April 4, “is all plains. It is great country for old pat’s tanks,” (in
reference to his commander, General George S. Patton), adding that he looks forward
to celebrating the fall of the “Master Race” with a ride “down the streets of
Berlin.” While Roger never saw combat, his impressions of German roads choked with
freed Russian and French soldiers streaming home, the smoldering wreckage of combat,
and long lines of retreating German forces are noteworthy (see letters of March 22nd
and 25th, 1945).

Other subjects of interest reflected in the Steele papers include the lives of rural
New Hampshire farmers and how they were impacted by the departure of their sons for
war. Both Everett and Roger hoped and prayed for furloughs or discharges around the
Christian and the agricultural calendar in order to help on the farm. This desire
was compounded by Eda’s frequent bouts of illness. As one friend wrote Everett on
the 2nd anniversary of Pearl Harbor, “When the war is over I bet you will be glad
to
get your foot back in the soil.” They almost certainly were.


Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open.

Copyright Notice

Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions
about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Frank Everett and Roger Steele World War II Papers,
1942-1945, MC 229, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New
Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.

Acquisitions Information

Purchase, Charles Apfelbaum, Watchung, New Jersey, 2009 (Accession number: 2009.17)


Collection Contents


Series 1: Frank Everett Steele, Outgoing Correspondence

(1 box)

Box 1
Box 1, Folder 1 December 1942-August 1943
Box 1, Folder 2 September-October 1944
Box 1, Folder 3 November-December 1944
Box 1, Folder 4 January 1945
Box 1, Folder 5 February 1945
Box 1, Folder 6 March 1945
Box 1, Folder 7 April 1945
Box 1, Folder 8 May 1945
Box 1, Folder 9 June-July 1945
Box 1, Folder 10 August 1945
Box 1, Folder 11 September 1945
Box 1, Folder 12 October-November 1945
Box 1, Folder 13 Undated outgoing correspondence


Series 2: Frank E. Steele, Incoming Correspondence

(7 folders)

Box 2
Box 2, Folder 1 February-May 1943
Box 2, Folder 2 July 1943-March 1944
Box 2, Folder 3 September-November 1944
Box 2, Folder 4 December 1944-February 1945
Box 2, Folder 5 March-May 1945
Box 2, Folder 6 June-November 1945
Box 2, Folder 7 Undated incoming correspondence


Series 3: Roger Steele, Outgoing Correspondence

(15 folders)

Box 2, Folder 8 February-May 1943
Box 2, Folder 9 June 1943
Box 2, Folder 10 July 1943
Box 2, Folder 11 August 1943
Box 2, Folder 12 December 1943-March 1944
Box 2, Folder 13 January 1945
Box 2, Folder 14 February 1945
Box 2, Folder 15 March 1945
Box 2, Folder 16 April 1945
Box 2, Folder 17 May 1945
Box 2, Folder 18 June-August 1945
Box 3
Box 3, Folder 1 September 1945
Box 3, Folder 2 October 1945
Box 3, Folder 3 November 1945
Box 3, Folder 4 Undated outgoing correspondence


Series 4: Roger Steele, Incoming Correspondence

(10 folders)

Box 3, Folder 5 1942
Box 3, Folder 6 January 1943
Box 3, Folder 7 February 1943
Box 3, Folder 8 March-April 1943
Box 3, Folder 9 May 1943
Box 3, Folder 10 June 1943
Box 3, Folder 11 July 1943
Box 3, Folder 12 August 1943
Box 3, Folder 13 December 1944-October 1945
Box 3, Folder 14 Undated incoming correspondence


Series 5: Miscellaneous

(2 folders)

Box 3, Folder 15 Miscellaneous correspondence
Box 3, Folder 16 Miscellaneous items (including Roger’s “Personal Soul-Winning
Covenant,” special orders for various bases, SDA worship schedules,
church tithing receipts, base and Christian service newsletters, and
ration coupons)