Milwaukee County War Memorial

Free Movie: “The Hello Girls” Set for May 3rd

Hildegarde Van Brunt and Billy Abbott

Hildegarde Van Brunt was 19 when she volunteered to be a telephone operator with the U.S. Army Signal Corps in France during World War I. She learned French from her mother, who was born in Paris and also served in France during the war. During her service, Hildegarde met American Billy Abbott whom she married after the war and moved to Milwaukee.

Event Details

Date: May 3, 2018
Time: Doors 6:30 p.m./Program:
Tickets: Free with Registration
Parking: $7.00

Meet the women of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Recruited and trained by AT&T to serve in France as bilingual telephone operators during WWI, they were sworn into the U.S. Army, were bound by Army regulations, held rank and wore uniforms (that they had to purchase themselves).

The women of Signal Corps transferred more than 26 million calls and their service was praised by General Pershing—but when they returned home, the U.S. government told them they were never soldiers. They would not earn veteran status—or benefits—until 1977.

Post Screening Q&A

WMC is excited to have the descendants of U.S. Army Signal Corps veteran Hildegarde Van Brunt join us for an audience Q&A the screening, along with director James Theres. The panel will be moderated by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Meg Jones.

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