A Guide to the Ralph O. Ohlhauser Papers, 1942-1945
Captain Ralph O. Ohlhauser (1912-2004) was born on March 29, 1912 in Silverton, Ohio. During World War II, he served with the 343rd Engineer General Service Regiment, entering Company C as a First Lieutenant in April 1942, and progressing to Captain in February 1943. After two months at the Provicisional Engineers Organization Center in Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, Ohlhauser’s company shipped out to the United Kingdom. In July 1942, the regiment sailed to Oran, Algeria, then traveled into Tunisia the next year. During his time in North Africa, Ohlhauser supervised the construction and improvement of roads, prison camps, soldiers’ camps, and hospitals, including the assembly of electrical, water, and telephone systems.
In January 1943, the 343rd Engineers joined the 2nd Battalion of the 5th Army, to which Ohlhauser was appointed Adjutant, and he began service on the Special-Courts Martial Board. At the start of the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, the 2nd Battalion joined the newly formed 7th Army and sailed to Palermo, Sicily, while Ohlhauser became the battalion commander. A few weeks after the public announcement of an armistice between Italy and the Allied Forces on September 8, the regiment joined other Allied armies at Salerno and moved up the eastern coast over the next several months, continuing construction projects on roads and bridges. The regiment reached Rome on June 8, 1944, four days after the Allies took control from the German forces. In August, the regiment left Italy for southern France, traveling from St. Aygulf to Avignon then Bonvillet. On November 28, Ohlhauser received a Bronze Star for “Meritorious Services 20 Aug. to 9 Oct. 1944 in S. France.” Germany surrendered in May 1945, and the 343rd relocated to Mannheim, Germany, the next month. On June 18, Ohlhauser received the Croix de Guerre from the 1st French Army, and by September he arrived home in Ohio.
Ohlhauser married Blanche “Billie” Hutsell (1910-1984) on April 3, 1936, and the couple had two sons. After the war, he worked as a draftsman for the Dayton Power and Light Company in Ohio.
The Ralph O. Ohlhauser Papers, 1942-1945, contain four diaries and a photograph, concerning his service in northern Africa, Italy, and France during World War II. Ohlhauser illustrates his primary duties as constructing railroad bridges, roads, hospitals, camps, and prison camps. Additionally, the entries discuss training, Courts-Martial, censoring mail, air raids and attacks, burial duty, interactions with area locals, searching for mines, marches and trails between stations, and social events, such as dances, movies, and visiting different towns. The end of the 1945 diary describes his return to Ohio, civilian life with his family and friends, and his job as a draftsman with the Dayton Power and Light Company. The photograph, [ca. 1942], depicts and identifies Ohlhauser and fellow officers.
This collection is open for research use.
Ralph O. Ohlhauser Papers, 1942-1945, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Laurel Rozema, August 2010.
Detailed Description of the Papers