"Brookfield Goes To War" Update
Reprinted from "Crown Jewels of the Wire", April 1991, page 3
Regarding Larry Larned's fine story, "Brookfield Goes to War, " in
the August '90 issue, we would just like to add that "Circuits of Victory",
by A.L. Lavine, Country Life Press, 1921, is another must book for anyone
wishing to pursue this subject further. The story also deals with the Bell
System's family of men and women who made up the twenty-five Bell Battalions and
of the vast task they took on. Yes, I did say, women, for a great many bilingual
telephone operators volunteered for military service in France, a first!
Included in those volunteers, both men and women, were a number of individuals
from the independent telephone companies in America. This is another story that
needs to be told.
Incidentally, this was not the first time America's telephone
industry assisted France. In 1908, the Paris telephone exchange burned and
wasn't expected to be restored for four or five months. An agent of Western
Electric, Bell's manufacturing arm, offered to have the new one-hundred and
eight foot, ninety position switchboard in and working within sixty days or pay
six-hundred dollars in penalties for each day's delay. The board was
manufactured in Chicago and shipped to France in thirty-six days and in full service in the allotted sixty days.
Vic Sumner, Grand Terrace, CA