New documentary highlights achievements of some trailblazing women during WWI

Irene Cruz Image
Monday, March 18, 2024
'The Hello Girls' honors women who served in World War I
The new documentary "The Hello Girls" highlights the achievements of some trail-blazing women during WWI.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- ABC7 Salutes America's first female soldiers, who served in France during World War I. And many of them were from here in California. A new documentary called "The Hello Girls" tells the story of these much-needed telephone operators.

"These women played a significant role in gender equality for the military, which we see today, and then also with the right to vote," said Jim Theres, the film's director.

They all spoke French and connected more than 26 million calls. Thirty-nine of the women were from California - with 23 settled in the L.A. County area.

The documentary goes through 100-year-old letters, photos and archive footage. Carolyn Timbie is the granddaughter of Grace Banker, the chief operator of those women, she has immense pride for her grandmother.

"She really was a trailblazer and all the women, because they got this job done, they proved themselves," said Timbie.

Banker was awarded the distinguished service medal for her work. But not everyone got recognized for their service. After the war, they were denied veteran status for 60 years. It changed in 1979 - when only a handful were still alive.

"These women are leaders, they're inspirational and anybody who finds out about this story is immediately like - how can I not know this?" said Timbie.

But despite the long journey, their hard work helped pave the way to the 19th amendment - the women's right to vote.

"The impact they had on American military history and American social, political and cultural history is virtually unparalleled," said Theres.

There is also now a bill introduced to award the Congressional gold medal to all those female telephone operators.

You can watch "The Hello Girls" on Amazon Prime.

MORE: Documentary honors Black female veterans from WWII

The documentary "The Six Triple Eight" recognizes the important work done by a predominantly black, all-female battalion during WWII.