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Grace Banker and Her Hello Girls Answer the Call

The Heroic Story of WWI Telephone Operators



Calkins Creek

(Boyds Mills & Kane)

(pub. 2.2.2021) 40 pages

Author: Claudia Friddell

Illustrator: Elizabeth Baddeley

Character: Grace Banker

Overview: "Led by twenty-five-year-old Grace Banker, thirty-two telephone operators — affectionately called 'Hello Girls' back in the US — became the first female combatants in World War I.

Follow Grace Banker's journey from her busy life as a telephone switchboard trainer in New York to her pioneering role as the Chief Operator of the 1st Unit of World War I telephone operators in the battlefields of France. With expert skill, steady nerves, and steadfast loyalty, the Signal Corps operators transferred orders from commanders to battlefields and communicated top-secret messages between American and French headquarters.

After faithfully serving her country —undaunted by freezing weather and fires; long hours and little sleep, and nearby shellings and far off explosions — Grace was the first and only woman operator in the Signal Corps to be awarded the Army's Distinguished Service Medal." Tantalizing taste:

"Grace knew she had just what the army's Signal Corps needed -

college education - check

fluency in French - check

telephone operator expertise - check

Along with thousands of female telephone operators known across the country as Hello Girls, Grace answered the call and crossed her fingers.

Full of youthful enthusiasm,

I enlisted.

Women had never been allowed in the army - they weren't even allowed to vote! But that didn't stop Grace. She was used to marching in a man's world."

And something more: Grace Banker's Timeline at the back of the book states that in 1977: "After a nearly sixty-year battle led by Signal Corps operator Merle Egan Anderson, US Congress passes legislation that recognizes Grace and the female Signal Corps soldiers as veterans. This gives them the distinction of being America's first official women soldiers."


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