[Attachment 7] Military Telephone Regulations - 1918

Military Telephone Regulations


1. Use

These Military Regulations are for the use of telephone operating units and certain Signal Corps officers serving with the American Expeditionary Forces. Copies of the regulations are temporarily assigned to persons designated by the Chief Signal Officer and s^all be returned immediately upon request. Under no circumstances shall copies he lent to unauthorized persons or taken from Signal Corps offices, except upon approval of the Signal Corps Officer in charge.

2. Purpose of the regulations

The purpose of the regulations is to briefly describe the fundamental principles of military operating practice to secure uniformity and efficiency in operating throughout the entire system and the speedy and accurate completion of all military telephone calls.

3. Military service requirements

The two essential requirements of high-grade military service are speed and accuracy.

Speed is necessary so that detailed plans of the military forces may be carried out with the greatest possible dispatch.
Accuracy is essential to the speedy completion of calls and the prompt carrying out of military plans. Inaccurate connections waste time and delay the completion of important military matters.

4. Form

The regulations are issued in loose-leaf form, each page having a section and page number at the top. The date the regulations are effective is shown at the bottom of the page. Each section of the rules is intended to cover a particular part of telephone operation.

5. Additions and corrections

When additional or corrected pages are issued, the date the new pages are effective will be found at the bottom of the page. The pages shall be inserted in their proper places. Any obsolete pages were promptly returned to the Office of the Chief Signal Officer.

1 September 1918.

General Regulations for Operating Units

1. Secrecy of messages

All communications will be treated with the utmost secrecy. Under no circumstances will the nature of communication be divulged to anyone except the proper authorities through military channels. Upon an operator's faithfulness to this trust may rest the lives of thousands of men.

It is a court-martial offense to give anyone, except the proper authorities through military channels, any information whatsoever regarding communications.

2. Admittance to the central office

Persons desiring to visit the central office must first obtain permission from the proper Signal Corps officer or non-commissioned officer or person in charge of the central office. An exception will be made in the case of those authorized to enter the office to make repairs, install equipment, etc.

3. Reporting for duty

Report at least five minutes before the time assigned for duty. If it is necessary to be absent, notify the Chief Operator at least two hours before reporting time. If you are obliged to be absent, obtain permission from the Chief Operator in advance.

4. Conduct

In the telephone office, it is necessary to have order, quiet, and discipline at all times. Conduct yourself in an orderly manner and obey the instructions of those in charge immediately. Hold no conversation with operators or other persons, except that which is necessary to perform your duties properly.

When not in the telephone office, conduct yourself in such manner as will win praise and admiration of your associates and the French people.

5. Operator's personal number

Each operator will be assigned a number that will be used on tickets and for general reference purposes.

6. Bulletin board

Frequently refer to the bulletin board for notices which are posted for the information of the entire operating force.

7. Teamwork

To give rapid and efficient service, it is necessary to have good teamwork between operators. Therefore, assist adjacent operators and accept such assistance whenever it is needed.

8. Tone of voice

In operating, impressions are formed chiefly from how words are spoken. For this reason, it is far more important than in direct personal dealings with people. Cultivate a distinct, clear, and cheerful tone of voice.

9. Handling cords and plugs

Always grasp the shell of the plug and avoid touching the metal parts. When inserting or removing plugs, do not pull or push on the cords as the wire, especially where they join the plug, is easily broken.

10. Calling by number

Where directories have been provided, persons will be required to call by number. Report persons failing to do so to your Chief Operator.

11. Regulation uniform

The regulation uniform must be worn at all times, except in quarters when not receiving visitors. These are two kinds of uniforms, namely, summer and winter. The summer uniform consists of:

a. Navy blue alpaca cloth uniform. (Collar to be worn buttoned up to the neck, or open double-breasted fashion.)

b. Tailored dark waists, matching the uniform in color, or white waists when designated by the Chief Operator.

c. Tailored blue straw hat with Signal Corps hat cord.

d. Black or russet shoes.

e. Rain Coat.

The winter uniform consists of:

a. Dark blue uniform, with an overcoat to match.

b. Tailored dark waists, matching uniform in color.

c. Navy blue tailored beaver hat with Signal Corps hat cord or dark blue cap.

d. Black or russet shoes.

e. Raincoat.

The Quartermaster Department will sell regulation cloth for summer and winter uniforms at the lowest possible price. The telephone operators will purchase shoes, hats, and other wearing apparel from the Quartermaster Department or locally, per instructions issued from time to time by the Chief Signal Officer.

The operators may place orders for uniforms either with the Chief Signal Officer or with any local tailor. Still, all uniforms must be in accordance with prescribed regulations.

Standard measurement forms provided by Headquarters, S. O. S. will be filled out and sent in the first of each month by all who desire to purchase wearing apparel through the Office of the Chief Signal Officer. Delays should be anticipated and orders placed as early as possible.

12. Insignia of Signal Corps

The letters "US" shall be worn on the right side, and the crossed flags of the Signal Corps on the left side, near the front, of the coat collar of the regulation uniform. The telephone operators shall wear the special Signal Corps chevron for operating units on the uniform's left sleeve. No other insignia shall be worn.

13. Identity discs

Regulation identity discs shall be worn at all times.

14. Jewelry

No jewelry, except rings and wristwatches, shall be worn while in uniform. (Section 2, Page h, Paragraph 16. "Until 8:00 pm, members of Operating Units may remain away from quarters without a female or male escort. After 8:00 pm, a female or male escort will be required." '20 November 1918.)

15. Passes

At military posts where soldiers are provided with passes, members of operating units will be issued similar passes. They will be required to abide by the regulations thereon and that are in effect at the post. Where passes are not issued, but the post regulations require soldiers to be in quarters at a certain hour in the evening. Members of operating units will comply with the same regulations.

When requested, two late passes a week, good until 11:30 pm (except Tuesday and Friday), will be granted each person by the Chief Operator or person in charge. Late passes are not transferable and must be returned to the person in charge the following morning.

16. Leaving quarters

Telephone operators should make arrangements to leave the quarters and remain while away from quarters, in groups of two or more, whether accompanied by male escort or not.

17. Visitors

Telephone operators will receive no visitors on Tuesday or Friday evenings. The operators may receive visitors on other evenings until 10 pm Notices will be posted in conspicuous places requesting all visitors to leave the quarters by 10 pm.

18. Neatness of quarters

Quarters are subject to military inspection at any time and must be kept well ventilated, clean, neat, and in an orderly condition.

19. Lights

From 1 October to 1 June, all lights, except hall lights, must be out by 10:15 pm. Between 1 June and 1 October, the time will be extended to 10:45 pm.

20. Keeping in condition

The character of service the Army demands makes it necessary for each person to keep in the best possible physical condition at all times. Particular attention should be given to the quality of food eaten, amount of exercise and rest taken, and personal cleanliness.

21. Spreading of infectious diseases

Every precaution should be taken against the receiving or spreading of infectious diseases. Whenever necessary, prompt isolation will be made to prevent the spreading of diseases to other persons.

22. Request for operator's name

Operators are not allowed to give their names to telephone users. Refer all such cases to the Chief Operator or Supervisor.

23. Personal conversations at the switchboard

While at the switchboard, personal conversations between operators or telephone users are prohibited.

24. Care of switchboard

The use of food, water, books, etc., at the switchboard, is not permitted. Switchboards must be kept clear of everything not actually required to handle the traffic.

"A Signal Corps Service stripe is authorized for every six months of service with the AEF. The length of service is calculated from the date of disembarkation. The stripe consists of a straight piece of gold braid or tape, 2 1/2 inches long and 1/4 inch wide. The stripe will be sewed on the coat halfway between the wrist and elbow on the left sleeve at an angle of 45 degrees, pointing downward and in. As the gold V-shaped stripe is not authorized for operating units, the straight gold service stripe has been substituted to recognize foreign service."—25 November 1917.

1 September 1918.

General Instructions for Chief Operators

1. Responsibility

As active head of the operating force, the Chief Operator is responsible for the service rendered during the twenty-four hours of the day. Although she may not be present at all times, she will nevertheless be expected to keep in close personal touch with affairs of the office so that immediate action may be taken in case of serious service difficulties. Whether the service is good or bad will largely depend upon the Chief Operator. If it is good, it usually means that the Chief Operator has built up a contented, loyal, and well-trained force and has created the proper tone in operating throughout the central office.

2. Training of assistants

The Chief Operator will be responsible for training the assistants required in her office. She will be expected to give assistants the benefit of her operational experience and such coaching and training as may be necessary. She will carefully explain to them all rules, regulations, etc., that are intended for the operating force and make sure that all staff members correctly understand them.

3. Arranging schedule

The Chief Operator will be responsible for assigning operators so that the schedule will be filled appropriately at all hours. She will give special attention to fluctuations in traffic and endeavor to assign operators to positions where they will do the best work.

4. Conduct of force

The Chief Operator will maintain order, quiet, and discipline in the office at all times.

5. Office diary

The Chief Operator will keep a daily record of important or unusual occurrences affecting the service or the operating force, such as service complaints, trouble reports, interruptions to service, meritorious work, failure of operators to report for duty, tardiness, inefficiency, failure to comply with orders or regulations, and any other information that is likely to be of value or interest for future reference.

6. Service records

The Chief Operator will keep the Signal Officer in Charge advised of each member of the force's attendance, conduct, and progress to make the proper entries in the Service Records.

7. Service complaints

Service complaints should be unusual with a properly organized and well-trained force. If a service criticism is received, secure all the information necessary to make a thorough investigation, so handle the case that the party will feel assured that proper action will be taken to prevent a possible recurrence. The details of service complaints will be kept on file in the office. Serious service complaints should be brought to the attention of the Signal Officer in Charge as soon as possible.

8. Trouble complaints

Any switchboard, telephone, or circuit trouble must be promptly reported to the Wire Chief. A trouble ticket should be written showing all the necessary information and sent to the Wire Chief as soon as possible. The Wire Chief should notify the Chief Operator when the trouble is cleared. The Chief operator will arrange to assist the Wire Chief by making tests from time to time, especially on circuits, to determine if the trouble has been cleared.

9. Repeating messages

Suppose a conversation cannot be carried on satisfactorily because of equipment or circuit trouble or other unusual conditions. In that case, the Chief Operator will arrange for the repetition of the message if either party requests it. The Chief Operator will enter a record of such messages in the office diary.

1 September 1918.

"[Attachment 7] Military Telephone Regulations" - 1918, in Hearing before the Committee on Venteran's Affairs, United States Senate, Ninety-Fifth Congress, First Session on S. 247, S. 1414, S. 129, and Related Bills, Washington DC: US Government Print Office, 25 May 1977, pp. 318-322.

Return to Top of Page

World War I
Hello Girls in the Great War
GG Archives

Telephone Operators in the Great War




World War 1 Collection

Primary Military Collections