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Sgt., 332nd Inf., Co. "L"

Submitted by the children of Ralph N. Doerres

DOERRES R N Ohio Soldiers

rnd portrait 1919bcompRalph Norman DOERRES, our father ("Daddy" to us), was one of the few men to serve exclusively with the 332nd Infantry Regiment in WWI from when it was organized in the late summer, 1917 to when it was demobilized in May, 1919 — he took part in or witnessed just about every aspect of the adventures of "Wallace's Circus."

Born in Chillicothe, Ohio in 1892, the fourth of five children of Mary Dimity Doerres and John Doerres, Ralph was educated in Chillicothe's public schools (his father was a member of the school board).  Shortly after finishing high school, he enlisted in Company "H", 4th Infantry, Ohio National Guard in July 1910 serving until 1915 and attaining the rank of Sergeant.

Ralph was working at Youngstown Sheet and Tube as an "efficiency engineer" when he registered for the draft in 1917.  Once Chillicothe had been selected as the site of Camp Sherman and the first round of the draft was imminent, he returned to his hometown.  He wrote to his draft board, Youngstown No. 1, requesting that he be " ... included in the first five percent of the quota ..." and for permission "... to report to Commanding Officer of Camp Sherman, Wednesday, September 5th. ..." and signed it "Yours for service."  His letter was returned to him with the handwritten reply "... You will have to wait until your turn comes ..."

OFFICIAL PASS MrDoerresMrRuthCOMPIn the meantime, he secured a civilian job at Camp Sherman working for the general contractor responsible for building the new National Army cantonment, A. Bentley and Sons Company.  

Ralph received official orders to report for duty at Camp Sherman in the middle of September.  He was assigned directly to the 332nd Infantry's Company "M" and soon there after appointed 1st Sergeant.

rnd at CampSherman 1917acomp

Passes CoM332ndInf RND

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During the 332nd Infantry's rifle training excursion at Camp Perry, Ohio along the shores of Lake Erie, Ralph wrote to his sister in Chillicothe :

11-23-17  Dear Sis: -   Am having a grand time.  Has been raining since we arrived yesterday AM.  Is snowing now and the wind is blowing a gale and it is rather cold.  We are living in tents with wooden floors + have small stoves in them.  We manage to keep comparatively comfortable.  Will write more later when I have more time.  Give my regards to everyone.  Write soon.  As ever  Ralph.  We sure have a plenty of mud, in fact nothing but mud”

rnd at CampPerry Nov 1917acomp

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Normally, Ralph would have no reason to send a letter home since Chillicothe, the location of Camp Sherman, was his hometown.  One evening in mid-December, however, he wrote this one to his sister who lived only about 4 miles away:

"Sunday Eve. Dec 16th 1917   Dear Sis : —    I wouldn’t write this note if I didn’t have to.  When I returned to camp last night I found that our company was quarantined.  As yet we don’t know just what we are in for.  We have one man in the hospital with the measles and another with pneumonia neither of them serious. Now don’t worry any about it for it es nothing serious and we will probably be loose in a few days.

As it is now, none of us can leave our barracks and no one but men of our Company can come in, of course, we go out to drill, etc. that is in the vicinity of the barracks.

Say, I can tell you what you can do if you will. Send me the paper out until we are released, as se can’t get any papers, stamps or anything else. ...

Another thing, such things as a little candy and cigars wouldn’t go bad for we can’t buy them at the exchange as we did before.

And say, if you get a chance tell Pop and any of the fellows about it, as I told them I would be in again Thursday night.

It sure was a quiet day as no one bothered me about a pass to go down town. Now, again don’t worry any. Will probably be able to get away in a few days.

As ever   Ralph

Ralph was reassigned as 1st Sergeant of Company “L” when the 332nd Infantry reorganized in May, 1918 as it was infused with a slew of fairly new draftees necessary to fill out its ranks just before leaving Camp Sherman to join the A.E.F. in France.

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