Young Women of America, Attention! - 1918
Here’s an opportunity to serve your country in France with General Pershing's Expeditionary Force—a chance to do as much to help win the war as the men in khaki who go “over the top.”
Uncle Sam wants to have his telephone system in France operated by the most efficient operators in the world and that means by American young women. The Signal Corps have asked the telephone companies in the United States to secure these “switchboard soldiers” for them.
Just because you are or have been a telephone operator, don’t think that you therefore can easily secure a position in this expeditionary operating force.
The first and fixed requirement is an ability to speak and read both French and English fluently and be able to understand readily French spoken over a telephone line.
The American telephone system in France not only links General Pershing’s headquarters with various points of military importance, but it also connects directly with the French Government telephone system, and so unless your French is very, very good, do not consider yourself a qualified applicant.
Knowledge of switchboard operation is also necessary, but if you do not have this knowledge and if all the operators needed are not obtained from those already having experience, you may be accepted without previous experience and given the necessary training by some telephone company.
Therefore, if you can handle the French language as well as you do the English and are dependable, resourceful, and able, if necessary, to “go it on your own” as the soldiers say when the tide of battle compels prompt, individual action to meet a serious situation—then by all means apply.
Nearly a hundred young women have already been selected and judging from them this unit will meet all those requirements and be one of the most democratic and truly representative American forces sent abroad.
Its personnel is being selected from applicants from all parts of the country, who, as fast as they are selected, are given such training either in their home town or city or at some training center to which they are sent for final preparation and from which they will be ordered to a port of embarkation for outfitting as different groups become ready to sail.
Every member of the organization must wear a standard uniform that has been specified by the War College. This uniform must be worn at all times and civilian clothing cannot be worn and will be of no use to these young women soldiers “over there.”
The different ranks will be distinguished by different insignia on the white brassard worn on the left arm. Operators will wear a white brassard with a black telephone transmitted. Supervisors' brassards will have a gilt laurel wreath underneath the transmitter.
The brassards of the chief operators will have the two symbols mentioned surmounted by the gilt lightning bolts used as insignia by the ' Signal Corps.
In every respect these young women will be soldiers coming under military restrictions at all times. The pay will be $60 a month for operators, $72 for supervisors, and $120 for chief operators, in addition to which allowances will be made for rations and quarters when these things are not provided by the Army.
The Signal Corps authorities point out that this operating force is not going on a pleasure trip or “joy ride” and that no evening dresses need be taken and that social opportunities are not at all included in the program.
It will be a war task of the nature and size that always appeals strongly to American womanhood and for handling it, the Signal Corps seek levelheaded young women who are resourceful, able to exercise good judgment in emergencies and willing to work hard and even endure hardships if necessary.
At the same time they point out that all indications are that everything possible will be done to insure the comfort and wellbeing of these young women in the service.
Information as to how application may be made can be obtained by calling upon the manager of your local telephone company, or application blanks, etc., can be obtained from the Chief Signal Officer of the Army, Room 826, Mills Building Annex, Washington, D. C, who makes the appointments to this work.
"Young Women of America, Attention!," in Bell Telephone News, Detroit Edition, Vol. 7, No. 7, February 1918, p. 23.