Hill, Ralph W. | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
Enlisting in April 1918, Ralph W. Hill was a member of 301st Engineers of Company D. Ralph and his companions marched into Germany and spent their first European Christmas on the shores of the Rhine.
Once in Germany, Ralph's division became part of the Army of Occupation, but this knowledge did not diminish rumors of an early return home. Rather than crossing the Atlantic, they began rebuilding Germany's infrastructure and establishing a permanent US military presence there. Their first task was to build and guard a pontoon bridge across the Rhine; as temperatures began to drop, they did have to defend the bridge, but only against ice chunks floating downstream. Other assignments included constructing barracks, a shooting range, and a classroom. One of Ralph's final duties was to work in the topographical office, but rather than charting maps his duty was to create signs for the new structures around camp.
Ralph returned home to Peabody, Massachusetts, in July 1919.