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Letter from Major Coles to Washington State Bonus Board - 1921

Headquarters 2d Corps Area,
Office of the Signal Officer,
New York City, May 17, 1921.

State Bonus Board,
State of Washington.

Gentlemen : It has been recently brought to our attention that one of the State Military Service Bonus Boards has raised the question as to whether or not by virtue of service rendered, award of the State bonus should be made to former female telephone operators of the Signal Corps, who were on duty with the American Expeditionary Forces, and in case such question arises in the case of Miss Adele L. Hoppock, 1222 Summit Ave., Seattle, Wash., understood to be a resident of your State, I desire to invite your attention to the following:

New York City, May 17, 1921.

I served practically entirely during the war with the Signar Corps of the American E.F., first as Deputy Chief Signal Officer of those forces and during the final few weeks as Chief Signal Officer on General Pershing’s staff.

Consequently I am in the very best position to know of the sacrifices and devotion to duty shown by these heroic young ladies, who gave up everything, placed themselves subject to the strictest kind of military discipline, braved the perils of the submarine infested seas and shared the hardships and privations which come to an army in a theatre of operation shoulder to shoulder with officers, enlisted men and nurses without murmur and without complaint.

These young ladies, while it was not practical to commission or enlist them because they were females, were nevertheless by their oaths and the rules and regulations for the conduct of armies in the field, as severely restricted and as completely required to endure and suffer as were any of their thirty-five thousand officer and enlisted men companions in the Signal Corps of the American E.F., or for that matter any Americans who served in Europe during the period of war.

Their orders with which they had no option but to comply, sent them in their soldiers’ uniforms to all parts of the theatre of operations of our Army, and the hardships, privations and dangers which they were called upon to endure were of as common occurrence as those in the case of the average officer and soldier, and I bespeak for those three hundred and fifty young ladies and for each of them, every consideration which individuals, bodies, states or the nation may see fit to give to any part of our armed forces during the recent war.

General Pershing and Brigadier-General Russel, the Chief Signal Officer of the American E.F. during all the period of the war, have already lavishly praised the loyalty, devotion to duty and spirit of self sacrifice with which the three hundred and fifty members of these female Telephone Operating Units were imbued, and I am certain that they would feel as keenly as do I any intimation that these ladies were other than a part of the American Expeditionary Forces in the fullest sense of the words and of the phrase.

Yours very truly,
Roy H. Coles,
Major, Signal Corps.

"[Exhibit Y]: Affidavit of Gertrude Hoppock: Letter from Major Coles to Washington State Bonus Board - May 17, 1921," in Recognition for Purposes of VA Benefits, Hearing before the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Unted States Senate, Ninety-Fifth Congress, First Session on S. 247, S. 1414, S. 129, and Related Bills. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 25 May 1977. p. 377.

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