Telephone System
Photos and excerpts from Ameritech Corporate Archives
Indiana Telephone News
Major General John Millikin (seated) and Col. W. B. Bradford, chief of staff
Major General John Millikin (seated) and Col. W. B. Bradford, chief of staff
At the Camp Atterbury switchboard, l-r: Chief Operator Frances White, Dolores Witham, Mary Arkins, Jean Michael, Arolyn, and Ada Dugan.  Other operators now on duty at the Camp who could not be present for th picture are Cara Louise Weber, Helen Wachstetter, Jean Simon, Betty Jean Cade, Rita Walker, and Beatrice England.
At the Camp Atterbury switchboard, l-r: Chief Operator Frances White, Dolores Witham, Mary Arkins, Jean Michael, Arolyn, and Ada Dugan.  Other operators now on duty at the Camp who could not be present for th picture are Cara Louise Weber, Helen Wachstetter, Jean Simon, Betty Jean Cade, Rita Walker, and Beatrice England.
On the job supervisors, l-r: Henry B. Dezelan, commercial representative; Virgil Wallick, Edinburg wire chief; Ivan Barnett, Columbus switchman; Henry Rigor, Columbus plant chief; 1st Lt. Taylor Smith, signal officer; Carl F. Riensche, district construction supervisor, and C. N. Smith, traffic methods supervisor
On the job supervisors, l-r: Henry B. Dezelan, commercial representative; Virgil Wallick, Edinburg wire chief; Ivan Barnett, Columbus switchman; Henry Rigor, Columbus plant chief; 1st Lt. Taylor Smith, signal officer; Carl F. Riensche, district construction supervisor, and C. N. Smith, traffic methods supervisor
Construction men, well coated with Camp Attrbury dust, l-r: James Noonan, C. W. Calldemeier, foreman, Edgar Barber, foreman, Walt Magee, E. P. Sheehan, W. Gardner and G. W. Patterson

Construction men, well coated with Camp Attrbury dust, l-r: James Noonan, C. W. Calldemeier, foreman, Edgar Barber, foreman, Walt Magee, E. P. Sheehan, W. Gardner and G. W. Patterson
Another construction crew which has put in many busy hours at the Camp, l-r: Harry Hutchens, foreman, N. R. Davis, John Horn, Frank Welch, Bob Sharp and Earl Pope.
Another construction crew which has put in many busy hours at the Camp, l-r: Harry Hutchens, foreman, N. R. Davis, John Horn, Frank Welch, Bob Sharp and Earl Pope.

Installation At Camp Atterbury On Schedule - July 1942

Although General Mud is putting up some pretty stiff opposition, Indiana Bell construction and splicing crews are placing the outside telephone plant at Camp Atterbury, near Edinburg, right on schedule.  At the same time, Western Electric installers are rapidly setting up the central office equipment in the telephone exchange building provided by the Army on the camp grounds.

Under the general supervision of Carl F. Riensche, from two to four Indiana Bell construction crews and seven splicing crews have been busy at the big new Army camp since early in June.  Cables have been placed to furnish service for 1,000 lines on the camp grounds.

A 701-A dial PBX is now being installed in the telephone building.  This equipment will switch the calls between telephones on the huge reservation.  Incoming and outgoing calls will be handled through a four-position multiple switchboard.  This board will be operated by regular Indiana Bell operators.  In addition, a separate constant-supervision type fire reporting switchboard serving 100 stations will be installed.

At the present time telephone calls to and from the camp and intercommunicating calls between telephones located on the grounds are switched through the Indiana Bell's Edinburg office, or though one of the three PBX switchboards now in service for the army thee.  One two-position cord board, four cordless boards, and individual line service has been installed for service to 32 contractors on the camp grounds.

It is expected that the new telephone system will be ready for service by the time the camp is completed and officers and men begin to arrive there in force.  Plans are now completed for the installation of pay telephones in convienent locations for the use of the men.

ndiana Bell Splicers, Charles Petraits (left) and Leo Becker, at work on the frame in Camp Atterbury Central Office.
Indiana Bell Splicers, Charles Petraits (left) and Leo Becker, at work on the frame in Camp Atterbury Central Office.
A few of the step-by-step dial switches being installed at the new Army camp.  Western Electric installer is reeling off cable.
A few of the step-by-step dial switches being installed at the new Army camp.  Western Electric installer is reeling off cable.
Service is Furnished As Needed At Fast-Growing Camp Attrbury - We Ring The Bell For The Army - August 1942

Behind a fold of hills just west of U. S. Highway 31 between Franklin and Edinburg the cantonment center of one of the newest and finest Army camps in the country is rapidly being completed.  There, 1,700 buildings, encompassed in a six-mile-square area, have sprung up since mid-February and are now being occupied, block by block, by soldiers of Uncle Sam's Army.   Adequate telephone service has been provided by the Indiana Bell to take care of the communication needs of this fast growing military city at every stage of its construction.

Telephone men and women who have been directly concerned with the job at Camp Atterbury will consider that last sentence a masterpiece of understatement.  Never have people worked harder, often under trying and difficult conditions, to furnish the best service possible in an emergency.  It has been a hard grind, but careful planning and expert execution have kept the telephone bells ringing where they would do the most good.

The first to require service on the Camp grounds were the contractors.  To care for their needs and those of the Army administrative officers, Henry B. Dezelan, commercial representative, was transferred to Edinburg from Indianapolis on February 9.  Mr. Dezelan also supervises the new Edinburg business offices where five public telephone booths have been provided to help take care of increased demands for service.  At about the same time, Carl F. Riensche, district construction supervisor, was placed in charge of telephone construction activities at the Camp.

Since then service has been furnished out of the Edinburg office to nine temporary PBX switchboards ranging in size from a cordless board to a two-position, 320-line board.  These boards operate a total of 229 stations.  In addition, there are 31 individual business lines on the grounds.  A total of 43 trunks are required to handle this traffic.

ol W. M. Modisette, commanding officer, with Z. W. Leach, general sales manager
Col W. M. Modisette, commanding officer, with Z. W. Leach, general sales manager
Raymond Speer (on pole) and Joe Hendricks install a fire alarm station at Camp Atterbury
Raymond Speer (on pole) and Joe Hendricks install a fire alarm station at Camp Atterbury

Telephone Room Installed - December 1942

Continuing its endeavors to provide the best possible public telephone service for servicemen stationed in this territory , the Indiana Bell opened an attended telephone room at Camp Atterbury on the evening of November 23.  This is the second special public telephone installation to be placed in service at an Army Camp by the Company, the first having been opened at Fort Harrison late in September.

The installation at camp Attebury consists of eight public telephone booths.  The pay stations in these booths are tied into a one-position PBX switchboard.  This switchboard is surrounded on four sides by a counter at which the soldiers' calls are recorded and passed to the Indianapolis Toll office for completion, and payments accepted.

When a soldier places a call, the "reading operator" makes out a ticket and at the same time gives him any rate or other information he may desire.  She then assigns a serial number to the ticket, gives the caller a slip of paper with the same number on it, and passes the call to the operator in Indianapolis over the "reading circuit."

As soon as the call is completed the Indianapolis operator notifies the attendant at the PBX position in the telephone room.  She plugs the call into any of the booths which may be idle and announces the serial number of the call together with the booth number over a loud speaker paging system.  Should the called telephone be busy or delay encountered for any reason the Indianapolis operator notifies the attendant on the reading circuit and the caller is immediately informed.

Benches have been provided so that soldiers may wait near the telephones.  The attended station is located in one end of the second floor reading room in Service Club No. 1.  Soldiers who encounter delays on their calls may while away the time with a newspaper or magazine at one of the reading tables within sound of the loud speaker.

Attendants at the telephone room are from the Indianapolis Toll office.  They report to the Indianapolis toll chief operator and are on duty form 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on week-days and from 12:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Sundays.  Besides the PBX and "reading" operators there is a cahier and a supervisor who serves as a relief operator and gives assistance wherever required during rush hours.  The coin collectors in the booths are tied direct into the Edinburg office when the attendants are not on duty and are available for use at all hours that the Service Club building is open.

B. T. Loeffler, division equipment engineer, engineered the installation of the telephone room.  An unusual feature of this job is the arrangement whereby the trunks into the telephone room PBX may be tied direct into either the Edinburg central office of the Indianapolis Toll office.  At present, local calls - those to Edinburg, Columbus, Franklin and Seymour - are switched through the Edinburg office and practically all others through Indianapolis.

Indiana Bell installers, under the supervision of Henry Rigor, plant chief at Columbus, installed the booths, switchboard, and other telephone equipment.  The counter and benches were constructed in the Indianapolis carpenter shop and set up in the room by Building Maintenance men under Edward Fritsche, carpenter foreman.

Little or no fanfare accompanied the opening of the new telephone room so that the attendants could become familiar with the operating practices before large numbers of soldiers began crowing the room.  At the present time there are about 45 other telephone booths scattered throughout the camp grounds in Post Exchange buildings and other Service Clubs.  Additional booths will be installed wherever and whenever the need arises.

The new telephone room is proving increasingly popular with the soldiers stationed at Camp Atterbury.  They like the easy informality of the place, and the friendly, helpful spirit of the attendants.  On the other hand, the attendants have nothing but praise for the soldiers.  As one of them said, "They are so pleasant and helpful to us and to each other.  They never seem t get impatient or out of sorts, even when their calls encounter long delays.  They're the swellest bunch of boys in the world and we're happy to have the chance to be of service to them."

Telephone room attendants, l-r: Donna Doty, Virginia Smith, and Celia Nierman
Telephone room attendants, l-r: Donna Doty, Virginia Smith, and Celia Nierman
Soldiers placing calls with attendants at the counter in the telephone room.  The soldier with glasses on leaning on end of counter is Corp. C. K. Trippet, son of the secretary of the Princeton Telephone Company, Princeton, Ind.
Soldiers placing calls with attendants at the counter in the telephone room.  The soldier with glasses on leaning on end of counter is Corp. C. K. Trippet, son of the secretary of the Princeton Telephone Company, Princeton, Ind.
Carolyn Freeman operates the PBX board.
Carolyn Freeman operates the PBX board.
General view of the telephone room at Camp Atterbury.  Soldiers in the foreground are waiting for calls to be completed.
General view of the telephone room at Camp Atterbury.  Soldiers in the foreground are waiting for calls to be completed.
(Note: the soldier has an 83rd "Thunderbolt" patch on his sleeve)

The General And A Faithful Aide

Major General Frank W. Milburn, USA, Hoosier-born commander of the 83rd Infantry Division, the first division ever to train on Hoosier soil, uses a field telephone of the Army Signal Corps during maneuvers at Camp Attrbury early in June.  These field telephones usually are tied into Indiana Bell circuits during field exercises on the reservation.  Speaking for the 83rd Division, Lt. Col. W. G. Belser, Jr., adjutant general, recently declared, "We have found the telephone service here (at Camp Atterbury) to be very excellent."  Take a bow, folks !!  Col. Belser is speaking in behalf of the men we want most to serve efficiently and adequately.
Major General Frank W. Milburn, USA, Hoosier-born commander of the 83rd Infantry Division, the first division ever to train on Hoosier soil, uses a field telephone of the Army Signal Corps during maneuvers at Camp Attrbury early in June.  These field telephones usually are tied into Indiana Bell circuits during field exercises on the reservation.  Speaking for the 83rd Division, Lt. Col. W. G. Belser, Jr., adjutant general, recently declared, "We have found the telephone service here (at Camp Atterbury) to be very excellent."  Take a bow, folks !!  Col. Belser is speaking in behalf of the men we want most to serve efficiently and adequately.

Atterbury Operators Rate A Salute - 17 Girls Who Live And Work At Army Camp Are Real "Soldiers of Service" - July 1943

Two days spent recently at Camp Atterbury revealed a most interesting picture of the part our telephone women play in an important phase of war work.  Living a strange existence midway between civilian and military status these Traffic women often rate a spontaneous salute form officers and enlisted men as they go about their appointed tasks on the huge reservation, but salute or no, they are everybody's friend in need from the highest officers to the lowliest privates.

From the very first, the large volume of calls handled at the camp necessitated having an operating force on duty there of diligent and willing workers.  Almost a year ago 17 Indianapolis toll operators, including a chief operator, supervisor, and senior clerk, were transferred to Camp Atterbury to handle the many incoming and outgoing calls for the Army.

Maintaining the only civilian barracks for women in the camp, these girls live in pleasant, homelike surroundings and conduct their work in an efficient, pleasing manner.  They fully realize tht theirs is a vital war job and they are there to do it to the best of their ability.

To give you some idea of the magnitude and importance of their job it will be necessary to quote a few statistics.  First of all, during the peak of the construction period, 14,000 workmen were employed to build the camp, which covers an area of 40,000 acres.  There are 50 miles of roads and streets and 200 miles of water, gas and electrical systems.  Among the many buildings, besides the barracks, there are 19 post exchanges, 18 of which are now in operation, three service clubs for enlisted men, six theaters, 13 chapels, three guest houses, three officer's clubs, several hundred day rooms and recreation halls.  The Post Hospital includes 50 buildings and Camp Atterbury has the largest laundry in Indiana.  Thus it is easy to understand the importance of the telephone in an establishment of such size.

Our switchboard there, has four regular toll positions and two for information, and is operating 24 hours a day.  There are 24 central office trunks and one trunk to the Atterbury Air Field at Columbus.  On June1, there were 725 telephone numbers on the board but actually 1,089 telephone instruments in service, many of which are extensions, with several listings grouped on each telephone.  There are 82 coin box telephones within the various post exchanges, service clubs, day rooms, officers' clubs, etc.  An attended telephone room with 10 pay stations is located in Service Club No. 1 for the convenience of the men placing long distance calls.

A teletype machine is located in the telephone office and can be used as an emergency setup in case the board would go out of service at any time.  This machine also can be used to handle an overflow from the board.

In order to undertake a job of this sort, the girls on duty there, whose periods of service range from one year and seven months to 24 1/2 years, had to learn Army personnel thoroughly.  This was no easy task, but with the telephone girls and the Army working in perfect coordination, the result has been most satisfactory.  Rotary files list the entire army organization, alphabetically and numerically, according to the two units, namely Post and Division, under which many subheadings and classifications appear.  A card file is also maintained which lists extension numbers and building numbers since this information is not listed on the rotary files.  The operators are not permitted to give out building numbers or locations of buildings except for emergency purposes or to an officer whom they know is entitled to have the information.

The orders for telephone installations, moves, etc. are handled by the Post Signal Office.  The orders are turned over to Harry Archer, camp manager, who hands them on to Wire Chief Virgil Wallick.  After Plant has worked the orders, they are passed to Frances White, chief operator, who sees to it that proper listings are made on the rotary files.

Calls are divided into two groups, official and personal.  Practically all of the long distance calls placed through the switchboard are on official business.

An information operator gives out the extension numbers of person and places within the camp for all calls except incoming long distance calls for enlisted men.  The procedure on this is somewhat different as the information operator gets the calling operator's number and location and informs her that the enlisted man will call as soon as he can be located  This girl prepares a special form with the man's name and the number of the operator and the place he is to call.  She then notifies the Postal Locator who in turn contacts the man's headquarters and informs him about his call. He then goes to a pay station, reports ready, and calls the operator's number at the originating point.

If a man cannot be located, our operator calls the toll operator at the originating point and explains why and the call is then usually cancelled.  If men are out on maneuvers or away from the camp for other reasons, the operators at Camp Atterbury explain that they are unable to notify the party for an indefinite period as they do not hold calls over.  If an emergency call comes in and the man cannot be reached by telephone, the caller is usually told to send a telegram as the men can receive messages of this sort in regular mail when out on bivouac, etc. An average of about 200 calls daily are received which require the aid of the Postal Locator in getting word of the calls to the proper men.

The number of calls that go through the board daily is truly amazing.  An average of 750 information calls are received each day; 1,000 incoming toll calls and 156 outgoing toll calls make up a good day's work.  Usually there are about 250 calls direct to Edinburg, but these are not long distance.  They are placed by merely dialing 0 of the operator.  Daily calls to the Atterbury Air Base total about 25.  The dial system handles about 16,000 calls each day.  Peak periods on calls are generally between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and 12:30 a.m., and 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Evening business is spread out rather evenly.

The girls on duty at Camp Atterbury can interchange jobs as they are familiar with all the details of the work, which proves to be of great value particularly during rush times.  Numerous calls are received each day from both the men and officers requesting the correct time.  The girls are all very willing to assist and furnish the information is a pleasing business-like manner.

These operators enjoy their work and apply themselves very efficiently.  At the end of their working hours they are privileged to use their time as they wish.  Their privileges are the same as those of the regular Army personnel.  The girls may attend shows, camp entertainments, dances, etc.  They may eat at the service club or officers' clubs.  On their days off they are permitted to return to their homes or go where they please as their time is their own.  They are not restricted to the camp nor do they need to obtain formal permission to leave.  Many of the operators have such a good time at Camp Atterbury that they seldom leave.  Miss White says, "they all love their work and surroundings so that they are afraid to eave for fear they'll miss something."

The barracks in which they live is most comfortable and fills their needs in grand fashion.  They can cook if they wish but generally only prepare their breakfast or a late evening snack before retiring.  The housekeeper, Mrs. Edith Winkel, who is better known as "Mom," and Miss White, have their quarters on the first floor, while the girls live on the second floor.  Showers, laundry room, recreation room and living room in which to entertain friends makes a very complete home for them.

While our operators on duty at Camp Atterbury are civilians in person, they are soldiers at heart.  Too much can not be said in their behalf for the splendid work they are doing.  Everything in running id perfect order and it proves that our army of telephone workers can meet and adjust themselves to any type of job that must be done.

Chief Operator Frances White and Capt. Taylor C. Smith, Post Signal Officer, discuss a service problem.
Chief Operator Frances White and Capt. Taylor C. Smith, Post Signal Officer, discuss a service problem.
On duty in the operating room at Camp Atterbury are, l-r: Darlene Baker and Genevieve Morford, at information files; Virginia Homsher, Ruth King, Hester Reddie and Ruth Brooks.
On duty in the operating room at Camp Atterbury are, l-r: Darlene Baker and Genevieve Morford, at information files; Virginia Homsher, Ruth King, Hester Reddie and Ruth Brooks.
The Post Signal Office where all telephone central office equipment is located.
The Post Signal Office where all telephone central office equipment is located.
Comfortable, home-like rooms are provided for the girls in the "Telephone Operators' Quarters," the only civilian barracks on the reservation.
Comfortable, home-like rooms are provided for the girls in the "Telephone Operators' Quarters," the only civilian barracks on the reservation.
New Toll Cable Placed In Service
May 1942

The number of circuits between Indianapolis and Edinburg were considerably increased late last month when a new toll cable was placed in service between those two points.

Since the new cable was installed to provide circuits for Camp Atterbury, the new Army cantonment which now is being constructed near Edinburg, the less said about the route and physical make-up of the cable the better.  However, increased business already has been experienced in this area and will expand considerably more after the Army takes over the camp late this summer.

The cable project included the placing of 229 poles and bout 32 miles of cable.  It also was necessary to construct a brick repeater station about half-way along the route, build five manholes, and lay 1500 feet of conduit in Edinburg.

Work was started on this job by Indianapolis Division construction forces on January 20, and completed on April 28.  Engineers started making their acceptance tests on April 27.

Other construction and expansion projects are now in progress at Edinburg in order to provide adequate telephone service for Camp Atterbury.  Such of these activities as are not classified as military secrets will be reported as fully as possible in succeeding issues.

The Edinburg office itself has been steadily expanded throughout the past six months.  During this period 10 operating positions have been added to the existing two-position common battery board.  The building was enlarged by the addition of a second story.

On June 9, Western Electric equipment installers moved into the spacious building provided at Camp Atterbury by the Army for central office quarters and started to work.  In one month they had installed a 701-A dial PBX equipped to operate 1,000 lines and a four-position switchboard.  The first telephones operating on this system were placed in service on July 9.  At present there are over 300 in operation at Camp Atterbury.

The Traffic Department announced on June 16 that C. N. Smith, traffic methods supervisor, had been assigned to Camp Atterbury to organize and manage traffic activities and to coordinate the work between the Camp and the exchanges with which the Camp will be connected.

Francis White, traffic training supervisor, was appointed chief operator at Camp Atterbury and took over the office there at the time of the cutover.  When activities at the Camp are in full swing she will have a force of 20 operators.  These experienced operators are being transferred to the Camp from the Indianapolis local offices and will live in a special barracks which is being constructed near the central office building.  Plans contemplate relieving each operator at the Camp after a tour of duty of four months.

Army officers at the Camp have expressed satisfaction with the prompt and efficient manner in which the Company has kept abreast of their telephone needs.  These include Capt. W. S. Arrasmith, area engineer who supervised the construction of the Camp, Col. W. M. Modisette, commanding officer in charge of operation of the Camp, and Major General John Millikin, commander of the 83rd division.

2005 James D. West - Indiana Military Org  All Rights Reserved
Page Last Revised 11/15/2005